Albemarle County Public Schools Superintendent Matt Haas presented a draft funding request for the 2022-23 fiscal year to the School Board on February 17 that includes a sharp increase in spending to match the surfeit of funds flowing in from state and local sources. Next year’s budget requests a total of $242 million—a jump of almost 15% from the current budget—as revenues increase by $31 million driven by federal and state pandemic relief money and a rebounding economy. (Albemarle County shares 60% of the increase or decrease in available shared local tax revenues with the school division each year.)
The biggest part of the request—$17 million—is devoted to a 6% salary increase for teachers and staff (beginning in the summer of 2022), which follows a 5% compensation increase for teachers during 2021-22 and a 4% increase for classified staff. Other large components of the budget increase include $2.1 million to add 46 school-based full-time substitute teachers to classrooms, $1.8 million for technology replacement, $1.2 million for furniture replacement, and $840,000 for a redesign of the ACPS Human Resources department.
Another $2.5 million will allow the division to reduce class sizes by one student per class across all schools, $3 million will be set aside to address compensation recommendations provided by a 2021-22 Compensation Study once it is completed, and $1.5 million will be transferred to the Capital Improvement Program to address unfunded ACPS facilities’ needs. In total, compensation and benefits represent 86% of the 2022-23 funding request. In a press release, the school division pointed out that next year’s expenditures will “raise per pupil spending by almost $2,700 to $17,735.”
The budget process will move quickly from this point. After a public hearing on March 3, the School Board will meet to approve the funding request at its March 10 meeting, and will formally adopt the budget at its May 12 meeting.