Last night, the Arlington School Board unanimously approved the FY 2020 Arlington Public Schools (APS) budget of $669,554,705 million to fund operations for the 2019-20 school year. The School Board’s approval of the budget concluded an intensive process that included seven budget work sessions and two public hearings.
On April 23, the Arlington County Board approved its final budget, which included a $532.3 million transfer to APS. The School Board’s Proposed Budget approved on April 11 reflected substantial efficiencies and reductions taken to reduce an initial budget gap of $42.8 million. The additional funds allocated to schools as part of the County Board’s final adopted budget helped APS to close its remaining $6.7 million budget gap.
“We are incredibly grateful to the Arlington County Board for providing the additional funds necessary to ensure that APS continues to provide excellent educational opportunities for our students,” said School Board Chair Reid Goldstein. “It’s clear that this community cares deeply about education and the future of our schools, and we thank the families, students and employees who participated. This budget is an investment in our future and allows APS to preserve its excellent programs and services while investing in quality teachers and staff.”
The primary cost drivers and investments in this year’s budget are growing student enrollment, with 1,000 additional students expected next school year, the opening of new schools and programs, a step increase for eligible staff so salaries remain competitive, and continuing growth initiatives begun in the FY 17 and FY 18 budgets.
The School Board discussed the compensation approach at length and weighed the merits of a step increase versus a Cost-of-Living-Adjustment (COLA) before approving a $10.7 million step increase. As part of the approved budget, the board will invest in a compensation study and a budget study to evaluate the salary structure to ensure all staff receive fair salary increases in the future.
Regarding compensation, Goldstein said, “We recognize the contribution of all employees in achieving success for our students and are committed to finding a way to include them in a pay plan.”
The adopted budget includes an amendment to use $240,000 from Future Budget Years Reserve to maintain three current full-time employees – two Montessori assistants at the Montessori Public School of Arlington and the assistant director of assessment.
The Board’s adopted budget also funds several priorities that align with the APS 2018-24 Strategic Plan, including a new chief diversity officer position and a new strategic partnerships coordinator position to focus on diversity and partnerships; an ART (Arlington Transit) Bus Pilot for students enrolled at the Arlington Career Center; and additional funding for transportation to the Outdoor Lab.
For more information on the adopted FY 20 budget, visit https://www.apsva.us/budget-finance/.
Other Items of Note
The School Board also heard monitoring reports and information items on the following:
- Equity and Excellence – Equity and Excellence Supervisor Carolyn Jackson presented an update on the program and discussed specific measures used to evaluate how the program is helping provide more access to enriching educational opportunities for students. The report is available
- Career Center Summer Work – Assistant Superintendent for Facilities and Operations John Chadwick presented an update on summer preparations to plan for growth at the Career Center, including Arlington Tech, in the 2019-20 School Year. The School Board discussed a longer-term facilities and academic plan for growth at the site. As a temporary measure, relocatable classroom space will be added in the parking lot adjacent to S. Highland Street. Other highlights:
- Additional parking options are being explored for staff to accommodate for this change;
- Green space will be added by moving the current relocatable classrooms located on the Patrick Henry Elementary School field; and
- The animals that are part of the Career Center’s Animal Science program and the adjacent greenhouse will remain in their current locations for the upcoming school year.
Other policy updates and discussion topics are available on BoardDocs.
Next School Board Meetings
The motions are available on BoardDocs. The next School Board meeting will take place on May 23.
For More Information
Citizens who want to comment on any items discussed at the School Board meeting should email the Board at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 703-228-6015. School Board meetings are broadcast live on Comcast Cable Channel 70 and Verizon FiOS Channel 41; live-streamed on the APS website, and re-broadcast on Fridays at 9 p.m. and Mondays at 7:30 p.m. immediately following the meeting. All materials and minutes will be posted to the website at www.apsva.us/schoolboard upon School Board approval at a subsequent meeting.