The Alexandria City School Board adopted a budget of $156,146,530 for next year. The final figure was $62,828 more than the budget proposed by Superintendent Rebecca L. Perry.
“The superintendent, the staff, citizens and every group involved in putting this budget together have been integral to creating a budget that helps all our students meet extremely rigorous academic standards,” said Mark Wilkoff, School Board chair. “Now we go from here to the City Council to ask for their support and approval.”
The new budget includes $365,105 for a modified school calendar at Samuel W. Tucker Elementary School. This will allow for a pilot test of the year-round school concept. Also, the school system will expand the laptop computer program, which is being piloted at the Minnie Howard Ninth Grade Center. Every student at both Minnie Howard and T. C. Williams will receive laptop computers next year at a cost of $1,828,464.
To help students meet math goals on the state Standards of Learning tests, the system will place a math specialist in every elementary school. This will cost $318,732.
Salary and benefits is always the largest portion of the school system’s budget. The Board approved $3,194,223 for salary step increases for all eligible employees and $640,000 for the increase in the school system’s contribution for employee health insurance. Another $3,520 will be required to meet the increased contribution to the Virginia Retirement System.
No Child Left Behind will cost the school system $428,759 next year. This unfounded federal mandate has raised controversy throughout the Commonwealth.
Incentive pay for teachers who are willing to transfer to failing schools has also been increased. This year, teachers who were willing to transfer to Maury Elementary School were given incentive pay. Next year, teachers at Jefferson-Houston Elementary School will also receive incentive pay. Also, the system will expand the kindergarten prep program to all elementary schools. This program was piloted last year and was successful.
There were some decreases in the budget. Student enrollment next year is expected to decrease by 58 students, from 10,762 to 10,704. Twelve home room teachers and four paraprofessionals across the system will be eliminated. These staffing reductions will be accomplished through attrition. In addition, the Central Office budget was cut by $258,000.