Budget Reflects New School Board Direction Adopted in Late March
Interim Superintendent Cintia Johnson presented her revised proposed FY 2021 budget at the School Board’s April 16 meeting. The revised budget reflects the updated School Board direction adopted in late March in response to the effect that the Coronavirus is having on the local economy.
The revised proposed budget totals $671.1 million. There are several revenue unknowns, including potential funding from the CARES Act H.R. 748, potential revenue reductions from the State and shifts in projected revenue from Arlington County.
“The revised budget outlines the continued commitment that we have to students, staff and the community, and that commitment still stands,” said Interim Superintendent Cintia Johnson. “Our goal is clear: continue delivering educational excellence, addressing the social and emotional well-being of our students and retaining the highly qualified team that we have worked so hard to recruit and attract to APS.”
To help offset the budget gap, departments have been asked to look for efficiencies and limit spending in the current FY20 budget. These include a hiring freeze on vacant positions and a reduction in spending. All the additions to the original proposed budget have been eliminated including the tiered requests, the compensation increase, and textbooks.
“It was imperative to find opportunities to realign our service delivery in areas where this was feasible while maintaining the excellent instructional program that we deliver for our students to grow and thrive academically. This budget includes this approach to assist with our budget deficit in addition to the use of reserves,” said Johnson. Ms. Johnson also stated, “We are hopeful that the budget outlook over the coming weeks will shift in our favor and the proposed budget presents our best thinking based on the information we have at this time.”
Resources for English Learners, special needs students, transportation, and other needs are included in the budget and a $5 million contingency was added to offset any further revenue losses.
Reductions to Close the Gap
Proposed reductions include the following:
- Eliminate the FLES program but add back some flexible positions to help principals provide required planning time.
- Increase class size by one at all grade levels.
- Reduce exemplary project staffing by half except at Title I schools.
- Reduce the contract of ITCs from 12 months to 11 months.
- Eliminate tuition reimbursement for one year.
- Eliminate funding for the compensation and budget studies.
- One day furlough for all staff to preserve as many positions as possible and maintain the infrastructure which aligns with the county manager’s proposed budget.
- Use VPI carryover funds for VPI expenditures.
- Reduce debt service as a result of the County delaying the bond sale until the fall.
- Reduce the Minor Construction/Major Maintenance (MC/MM) budget for one year.
- Reduce ongoing baseline increases by almost half.
- Eliminate some one-time purchases which allows us to put the reserves we were using to offset those costs back into the reserve fund.
- Implement department reductions that include hiring delays for several positions rather than outright elimination of those positions.
The budget also includes three scenarios related to staff compensation. Scenario one includes a step increase, scenario two includes a one percent Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) increase and scenario three does not include an increase. Scenario three, with no compensation increase, results in a balanced budget.
The full presentation as well as the Interim Superintendent’s remarks are available online.
The School Board will hold a work session and public hearing on April 21. Details on how to submit comments to follow. The School Board will approve its FY21 Proposed Budget on April 23 and Arlington County will adopt its proposed budget on April 30. An additional work session and public hearing is scheduled for May 5 and the School Board will adopt the final FY21 budget on May 7. Additional information is available at www.apsva.us/budget.