Wednesday Spotlight: Chesterfield Schools proposed budget advocates for differentiated funding to support school-based activities

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The per-student allocation given to schools to support discretionary spending for instructional supplies and academic supports would increase for the first time in more than 20 years, based on a proposal to invest nearly $3.4 million into Chesterfield County schools during the 2020-21 school year.

“We believe it’s time that the school division starts paying for more school-based instructional materials, student activities and field trips, and stops asking parents and teachers to fund these important components of the classroom learning experience,” Superintendent Dr. Merv Daugherty said.

The additional funding in the proposed Fiscal Year 2021 operating budget would provide school-based leaders the opportunity to better differentiate resources while meeting the needs of a diverse community of learners.

“I like to think of differentiation as the idea of when you go to bake a cake,” Salem Church Elementary Principal Monique Booth said. “There are different ingredients that need to go into a pound cake versus the ingredients that need to go into a lemon cake.

“The resources that are made available to schools need to mirror that type of differentiation. Not every child is a one-size-fits-all. What’s needed in one school is not necessarily what’s needed in another.”

The Superintendent’s budget proposal recommends that school-based instructional accounts be right-sized from the current base amount of $51-57 per pupil and adjusted for cumulative inflation over 20 years to a new base allocation of $89 per pupil.

“Very little costs today what it cost five years ago, much less what it cost 20 years ago,” Dr. Daugherty said. “However, based on current levels, we expect principals to pay 2020 costs with 1990s funding levels. It doesn’t work, so we’re changing the funding model.”

School division leaders also are proposing additional funds be allocated to support student reporting groups (economically disadvantaged, students with disabilities, and English language learners). Schools with students in these subgroups would receive an additional $25 allocation for each student/reporting group.

“This is what equity looks like,” Dr. Daugherty said. “Each of our students and each of our schools have different needs. Through this plan, we are able to differentiate funding to provide access to the various supports and resources necessary.”

An example of the equity proposal is shown below. For a look at the proposed differentiation of school-based funding, visit here.


School FY 20 Allocation FY 21 Proj. Enroll Base Allocation Economic Disadv. Students with Dis. English Learners FY 21 Allocation Net  Change
Bensley Elem. $33,180.03 619 $55,091 $12,116.09 $1,525 $8,525 $77,257.09 $44,077.06
Falling Creek MS $84,060.44 1530 $136,170 $29,535.79 $4,675 $5,675 $176,055.79 $91,995.35


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