Last Thursday evening, Superintendent Haas presented a needs-based and balanced funding request for the 2023-24 school year to the Albemarle County School Board. The request, totaling $257.3 million, includes an increase over the current adopted budget of nearly $10.9 million. The increase is supported by anticipated revenues that include an 8.8% increase in local funding and a 6.9% increase in state funding.
As Dr. Haas shared, the draft funding request presented on Thursday “represents our collective efforts to support the goals of our strategic plan, Learning for All, through fiscally responsible budgeting.” Dr. Haas presented the proposed changes in expenditures according to the strategic goal each investment primarily supports—thriving students; affirming and empowering communities; or equitable, transformative resources.
Among increases related to “thriving students,” Dr. Haas addressed overall enrollment growth and demographic shifts; an increase in the level of intensive support services currently required by our students with disabilities; current and projected enrollment growth in our English Learner population; and continued investments in school safety initiatives.
In support of “affirming and empowering communities,” Dr. Haas highlighted proposed improvements to our Extended Day Enrichment Programs (EDEP); hiring needs related to administration of the Albemarle Foundation for Education and Title IX compliance; and a $10,000 investment in a Student Voice Fund, an initiative that will encourage students to apply for funds to address a problem currently facing our school division.
“Our employees are our greatest and most valuable resource,” Dr. Haas exclaimed, twice, in his introduction of how our funding request supports “equitable, transformative resources.” Making up the largest portion of our expenditure increase is a $9.5-million investment in employee salaries, including a 5% pay increase for all employees and adjustments to our teacher step scale. Among other increases related to “equitable, transformative resources,” Dr. Haas discussed a second phase of improvements to our substitute program; a proposed restructuring of differentiated staffing; and staffing to support the division’s continued use and maintenance of HEPA filters, digital records management, and fiscal services.
Dr. Haas also took Thursday night’s presentation as an opportunity to thank the County of Albemarle for funding capital projects that include an expansion and improvements at Mountain View Elementary; the construction of a second high school center; and two elementary schools. However, Dr. Haas stressed the importance of currently unfunded capital projects that would address critical renovations to our aging schools and our capacity needs.
Though he presented a balanced funding request, the superintendent noted that our balanced scenario faces some challenges and uncertainties. Moving forward, the school board will host multiple budget work sessions as well as a public hearing on the budget on March 2. The school board will present their funding request to the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors on March 13, with the goal of adopting a budget for the 2024 fiscal year on April 27.
To access budget materials, including the 2023-24 Draft Funding Request and the February 16 presentation slides, please visit our 2023-24 Budget Development web page. You can also learn more by reading our February 20 news release.