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Superintendent Haas’ 2019-20 Funding Request “Builds on a Strong Foundation”

DATE: January 18, 2019
CONTACT: Phil Giaramita, Public Affairs and Strategic Communications Officer
PHONE: 434-972-4049

Superintendent Haas’ 2019-20 Funding Request “Builds on a Strong Foundation,” Seeks to Raise Value of Connections Between Schools, Businesses and Albemarle County Residents

(ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Virginia) – Citing the interconnections between schools, business and service organizations, and community residents, Albemarle County Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Matthew Haas, presented his 2019-20 funding request to the School Board last evening. “Wise, patient, and precisely targeted investments in the public sector can produce long-term prosperity for all,” the Superintendent said, adding that, “Schools should provide the resources and support that empower students to succeed in a wide variety of dynamic environments.”

The Superintendent’s request would increase school division expenditures by four percent, or two percent above inflation, beginning next July 1. The proposed investment of $194.3 million would increase funding to broaden student learning opportunities, close the achievement gap, add counselors and a security coordinator, and more efficiently use school resources.

In addressing the achievement gap, the Superintendent told the School Board, “We can and will do better, one student at a time. We can be the exception to the rule of discrimination that hamstrings the greatness of our work.”

Revenues currently are projected at $193.7 million and are subject to change as preliminary estimates are finalized. Local revenue from Albemarle County would increase by 3.9 percent; state revenues will jump by five percent; and revenues from the federal government are expected to be flat. The increase in state revenue will fund 26 percent of next year’s $14,104 estimated per pupil cost in Albemarle County. Prior to the recession, the state regularly funded 30 percent and more of these costs.

The difference between expenditures and revenues of $642,975 is one of the most modest funding gaps in several years, comprising less than one percent of the funding request.

Haas noted the strong academic performance of students and teachers as reflected in on-time graduation rates, SAT scores, and college readiness assessments that are among the best in Virginia and the nation.

“Even more important than these results will be our leadership as innovators,” he said. “That will come from investments that touch every student. If we truly are to be the catalyst for economic development and prosperity here in our county, our instructional model needs to fit contemporary demands,” Haas said.

Among the new proposals in the funding request:

  • An expansion of Center One at Seminole Place from 24 students to 60;
  • The re-establishment of a Junior ROTC Program at Monticello High School;
  • The addition of world language programs at two more elementary schools; and
  • Expansion of the division’s culturally responsive teaching program.

Also:

  • The replacement of the division’s current Gifted Education Program, which serves under 10 percent of students with a new talent development program that will benefit every student;
  • The phasing in of increased student counseling services in elementary schools;
  • An additional full-time mental health counselor at the middle school level;
  • The addition of a school security coordinator; and
  • A pilot program to promote a more stable learning environment for children by allowing kindergarten students to remain in their original school even if their family relocates to an attendance zone of a different school.

And:

  • An increase in bus driver compensation to eliminate current driver shortages that have resulted in the cancellation of field trips and after-school tutoring programs and added as much as 30 minutes to travel time for students;
  • The employment of retired teachers to reduce the current shortage of qualified substitute teachers and to create a permanent corps of highly experienced educators to maintain student learning at a high level; and
  • A reduction in tuition paid by teachers who live outside the county and who desire to have their children attend county schools. This will strengthen the division’s teacher retention practices, Haas said.

Noting that education is a “people enterprise,” Haas reported that the bulk of his funding request, 85 percent, is needed to support employee compensation and benefits. That includes $2 million to fund a 2.3 percent raise for teachers and $1.1 million for a 2.3 percent raise plus merit for classified staff.

When taking into account all mandated spending and operational requirements, less than two percent of the funding request is devoted to new proposals.

The School Board will hold two work sessions next week on the funding request, on Tuesday, January 22, and Thursday, January 24. The Board will hold a public hearing on the budget on Tuesday, January 29. All meetings will be held in the county office building at 401 McIntire Road in Charlottesville, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

The Board will approve a budget in early February, sending it on to the Board of Supervisors, and is expected to adopt a final budget for the 2019-20 school year later in the spring.

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