March 17, 2015 / School Board approves $689.6 million budget; agrees to request an additional $20.3 million

In its Tuesday, March 17 meeting, the School Board adopted a $689.6 million operating budget for the 2015-16 school year. In addition, the Board also agreed to request an additional $20.3 million from City Council to augment that budget.
The additional funding would be used to address these priorities:

  1. Improving employee salaries in a way that allows VBCPS to access the additional $2.8 million in state funding and enhance the school division’s recruiting and hiring competitiveness. This would involve a real salary increase of 3.66 percent plus the 1.34 percent hold harmless needed to achieve a regionally competitive pay scale. The cost for the 3.66 percent adjustment is $14.3 million (in addition to the $2.8 million in state funds).
  2. Reducing reliance on reversion funds so VBCPS is not in the position of plugging holes in its baseline budget from year to year. The cost for this would be $4 million. This funding would be part of a multi-year approach that recognizes the reality of declining year-end funds.
  3. Adjusting the Unified Pay Scale (which encompasses non-instructional employees) to address compression and other equity issues at a cost of $2 million. This represents only an incremental step. Adjusting the non-teaching scale to the full extent needed to address all equity and compression issues would cost $8 million.

The $689.6 million operating budget is $13.7 million less than the current year budget. Consequently, it was balanced through a number of strategies, including:

  1. Increasing class size at all levels by one student. The estimated savings is $12.1 million based on an overall reduction of 169.9 teaching positions. In addition, another 44.8 teaching positions will be eliminated as a result of a projected decrease in student enrollment (825). The loss of positions will be addressed entirely by attrition.
  2. Eliminating eight positions in central office for a savings of $650,000
  3. Decreasing the baseline budget by $3 million. Budget and Finance staff reviewed every line item for historical spending trends, identifying which of them could be decreased accordingly.
  4. Using $12.3 million in year-end funding to help address a funding shortfall. It is important to note that the amount of reversion funds available to the school system has been declining over recent years. For example, VBCPS was able to access $16 million in year-end funds for the current year budget.

In addition, the School Board also approved a $341.8 million capital improvement program (CIP) budget. This budget will address the renovation and building needs of the school division through the 2020-21 fiscal year.

Both School Board budget proposals have been provided to city management and City Council for consideration. The city manager will present a municipal operating budget proposal and a CIP proposal, including funding plans for schools, to City Council on March 24. City Council will adopt operating and CIP budgets by mid-May.

Follow the entire process on The Lowdown on Your School Dollars

March 3, 2015 / School Board adopts a resolution seeking an additional $20.3 million for the 2015-16 operating budget

In its Tuesday, March 3 meeting the School Board approved a resolution to be sent to the city manager which outlines its intentions to adopt a $689.6 million operating budget on March 17. However, in that resolution the School Board also included a request for additional funding in the amount of $20.3 million. The purpose of that additional funding will be: 1) to provide an additional salary increase of 3.66 percent (in addition to the 1.34 percent Virginia Retirement System offset); 2) to provide $4 million to reduce the School Board's reliance on one-time revenues to balance the operating budget; and 3) to provide $2 million for further equity adjustments to the unified pay scale. The adopted resolution also noted, "...the School Board supports an increase in the real estate tax increase or any other local tax if the City Council determines such a tax increase is necessary."

Inclement weather resulted in the cancellation of an earlier public hearing on the budget. By moving back the formal adoption of the budget to March 17, the School Board will be able to host a public hearing at that meeting. However, by adopting a resolution that outlines the expected funding request from the schools the School Board is able to assist the city manager in completing a municipal budget recommendation (which includes a funding plan for schools) that will be presented to City Council on March 24. In further action, the School Board adopted a resolution requesting $341.8 million be allocated to the capital budget, which funds the renovation, repair and rebuilding of schools. This budget has been reduced by nearly half of what it was seven years ago. The pace of renovation has slowed to one school every two years, which places VBCPS schools on a 150-year replacement cycle.