AlbemarleForward: Equity & Opportunity is the title of the 2018-19 funding request I presented to our School Board last week, and it sums up the extraordinary work now before us.
Funding requests are value statements and, especially at this time, our values compel us to make equal the learning experiences we offer to all students and to have them leave us fully prepared to realize their highest potential for lifelong success. This means that the goals before us are to eliminate the predictive impact that race, class, gender, and special capacities have on student success; to increase career readiness skills for all students; and to support the professionals who will deliver these results.
More than 80 percent of the increase in expenditures in my proposal is devoted to programs and personnel directly tied to these three goals. The largest share, totaling $4.1 million, is for compensation increases for teachers and classified staff.
Retaining and recruiting world-class teachers was the subject of a School Board-directed study by an internationally-renown consultant this past year, and it also was the highest priority identified in our annual community survey on the budget. In addition to a two percent market salary increase and pay for performance for classified employees, I also am asking for a one-time adjustment in the teacher scale that will eliminate past practices, where some teachers received less of an increase than recommended by the Board. This one-time equalization will result in most of our teachers receiving an increase of more than two percent next year.
These increases will continue to ensure that the compensation of our employees compare extremely favorably with the competitive markets set by the School Board and Board of Supervisors.
These increases offer a high return on investment in organizations that are structured to succeed. Empowering employees to unite around common goals; to apply their knowledge and ideas in the workplace; to collaborate with peers; and to trust that their leaders can achieve positive change constitute the collective efficacy of an organization. A recent survey of almost every one of our teachers was encouraging that all of these conditions exist in our division and, by building on this partnership, we will realize the promise of equity and opportunity for all.
A year ago, the title of my funding request was Equity & Access, and this year’s request is a continuation of the early and encouraging progress we have made in expanding learning opportunities for all students. In addition to our SEAD (social, emotional and academic development) team pilot, other initiatives include providing transportation to students who seek to enroll in a high school academy outside their base school; the elimination of student class fees; and an expansion of the social and emotional learning services and counseling we provide to students.
My request for $188 million is an increase of $7.58 million, or a 4.2 percent increase over our current budget—less than 1 percent after inflation and enrollment growth are considered. Revenue projections, which are likely to change over the next two months as both the state and county finalize their numbers, now show an increase of $6.3 million, or 3.5 percent. This leaves a funding gap of $1.26 million.
After employee compensation, growth is the next largest driver of our expenditure increase at $2.8 million. We expect 249 new students in our division next August. We also are continuing to see increases within student demographic categories that require support services, such as English Learners, special education students, and students from economically disadvantaged homes.
Two line items that traditionally have contributed heavily to the funding gaps of prior years will represent savings next year. Changes in our health care programs have reduced claims, allowing us to project that employee premium costs will be reduced next year. Our contribution to the Virginia Retirement System also will decline.
While the health of Albemarle County’s economy will increase local government revenues to our division by at least $6.5 million, we are projecting that both state and federal revenues will be less than we received in the current year. The state’s recently revised composite index for Albemarle County rose, primarily due to a 28 percent gain in the adjusted gross income of residents. The composite index determines state revenues to school divisions. Next year, this change will have a multi-million dollar negative impact on our division. The composite index does not take into account the revenues we do not receive from local government, because of its land conservation program or its revenue sharing agreement with Charlottesville City. If it did, our composite index would have declined.
The School Board has begun its budget work sessions this week and will hold a public hearing next Tuesday, January 30, at 6:30 p.m. in Lane Auditorium. This is an opportunity for you to offer your thoughts or suggestions on the funding request to Board members. You also can access the public hearing via video live stream.
More information on my funding request, including my letter and presentation to the Board and all budget documents, are available on the 2018-19 Budget Development web page.
Thank you for being such a valued member of our team.
Pamela R. Moran, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools