DATE: May 5, 2020
CONTACT: Phil Giaramita, Public Affairs and Strategic Communications Officer
Community Will Be Able to Offer Views on Next Year’s Reduced School Budget at Virtual Public Hearing This Thursday
(ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Virginia) – The Albemarle County School Board will be conducting a public hearing on a revised budget for the 2020-21 school year this Thursday afternoon as part of a School Board meeting that begins at 2 p.m. The meeting will be conducted virtually and will be available to the public via the Board’s live video stream at http://streaming.k12albemarle.org/ACPS/player.htm?xml/schoolboard.xml.
Prior to the public hearing, Board members will receive an update on the school division’s continuity of learning program resulting from Governor Ralph Northam’s closing of all school buildings for the rest of the current school year. The Board also will hear a separate presentation from staff that incorporates the latest revenue and expenditure projections for next year’s budget. The 2020-21 fiscal year begins on July 1.
Initially, the Board approved a 2020-21 school year budget at their meeting in February, but since that time, state and local revenue estimates have declined significantly following the economic downturn from COVID-19 business disruptions. These adjustments, which total $4.6 million less than the adopted state and local revenues in the current year and $15.6 million less than forecast for next year, will require corresponding reductions in expenditures for employee compensation, staffing, and programs and operations.
“In a needs-based budget, before we even look at resources, we need to identify the most important priorities for supporting the education, health, and well-being of all students,” said Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Matthew Haas. “That ensures we are allocating our resources to stay focused on our mission, even in this difficult period, of establishing a community of learners and learning, through relationships, relevance and rigor, one student at a time,” he added.
He said more than 4,000 parents, students, employees, and other community members have offered their views on various priorities for next year’s budget through an online survey that concludes this Wednesday. Two priorities, including placing a high value on student learning (96 percent) and doing everything possible to keep current staff employed (91 percent), received the strongest support in the survey. Equity also was highly ranked, with 86 percent support among respondents.
Those wishing to offer public comment this Thursday afternoon on next year’s budget are asked to sign up online no later than 4 p.m. this Wednesday, May 6, using the “Public Comment Sign-Up” link available at www.k12albemarle.org/board.
Those who sign up to speak will receive a link on Thursday from the School Board Clerk, Ms. Jennifer Johnston. The link will allow speakers to access the virtual meeting via Zoom, an online video communications platform. Speakers will be able to see the Board members and offer their comments live. If there are multiple speakers, all will enter a virtual waiting room until it is their turn to address the Board. They will be able to hear meeting proceedings while they wait. When it is a speaker’s turn, their Zoom access to Board members will be activated by the Clerk and they will have up to three minutes to deliver their remarks.
The Chair of the School Board, Jonno Alcaro said, “During this unprecedented time, every member of our Board values the input we receive from our constituents. The best decisions we make for students comes from receiving an inclusive range of opinions and judgments from our community. That’s especially the case given the financial challenges we face and the continuing increases in student enrollment we are experiencing,” he said.
“The response to the school division’s community survey is encouraging and we urge parents, students, employees, and other members of our community to consider joining us this Thursday. After all, we are one learning community dedicated to the same purpose, which is preparing students for lifelong success,” Alcaro added.
In addition to signing up to address the Board during the virtual meeting, members of the community can provide written comments to the entire Board by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Following the public hearing, the School Board will adopt a revised budget for the 2020-21 school year during their regular business meeting, which begins at 6:30 on Thursday evening, May 14. That meeting also will be virtual.