DATE: February 8, 2017
CONTACT: Phil Giaramita, Public Affairs and Strategic Communications Officer
PHONE: 434-972-4049

Albemarle County School Board Approves 2017-18 Funding Request, Including Initiative to Close Opportunity Gaps Among All Students

(ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Virginia) – The Albemarle County School Board voted at its February 7 work session to approve a funding request for the 2017-18 school year. The approval sends the request for an operating budget of $181 million to the Board of Supervisors for their review and ultimate approval as part of the county’s operating budget.

The funding request represents an expenditure increase of 4.9 percent over the current year’s budget and projects that revenues will grow by 4.3 percent to $180 million. The resultant gap of $906,000 is the smallest difference in several years between expenditures and revenues in a funding request sent to the Board of Supervisors.

More than two out of every three dollars for 2017-18 expenditures are expenses that are mandated or directed by the federal or state government or by the School Board and Board of Supervisors. They include $2.4 million for a two percent salary increase for employees; $1.5 million in increased contributions to the Virginia Retirement System; and a $1.2 million increase for health insurance premiums.

The funding request contains only one new initiative, an Equity & Access program to support and expand services to at-risk students. The goal is to eliminate opportunity gaps to learning among students who come from economically disadvantaged homes, students who are English language learners, and special education students.

Regarding the Equity & Access program, School Board Chair Dr. Kate Acuff said, “Even though our school division is consistently within the top five percent of all school divisions in the nation, our commitment to engage every student requires us to do more to promote the full potential of every single student. Our doors must remain open to all.”

In her funding request letter to the School Board, Superintendent Dr. Pamela Moran said, “It is important to value that while not all of our students come to us with the same interests, backgrounds or needs, they all do come to us with the same high levels of hopes and aspirations. It is our responsibility as educators and as community members to unlock the potential within each one of our students, to turn hopes from daydreams into reality.”

Referring to the initiative, Dr. Acuff said, “At a time when there is increasing national discussion around such issues as cultural diversity, it especially is important to reaffirm our nation’s historic commitment to welcoming and valuing all who come to us from around the world, who bring different life experiences, different appearances, or different ideas to our community.”

“This diversity adds richness to our school communities and is essential to our ability to prepare all students for lifelong success in an increasingly global marketplace of businesses and ideas. The Equity & Access initiative is broad in scope, but it is an investment in the strengths that diversity brings to us and to our future prosperity,” Dr. Acuff added.

The school division’s funding request will be part of Interim County Executive Doug Walker’s recommended budget presentation to the Board of Supervisors on February 17. The Board will conduct a public hearing on that recommendation on February 21. The Board of Supervisors will finalize an advertised tax rate for next fiscal year on March 7. Public hearings on the tax rate and budget will take place on April 11, and the Supervisors are scheduled to adopt a 2017-18 tax rate and budget on April 18.

The school division is awaiting final revenue numbers from the state and local government that will impact the current funding gap. Following the Board of Supervisors’ actions on April 18, the School Board will formally adopt a school division budget for next year.