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School Board Accepts Increased Proposal

The Alexandria School Board accepted Superintendent Rebecca L. Perry’s proposed operating budget for FY2005. The $156,083,702 proposal is a 7.78 increase over this year.

"This is my favorite time of year — the budget process,” said School Board chair Mark Wilkoff. “For those of you who haven’t done this before, we’re going to have a lot of fun.”

Wilkoff spoke as the Board listened to the superintendent’s budget presentation. “This budget is mindful of the economic realities faced by the state and the City of Alexandria,” Perry said. “That’s why we have made serious efforts to offset increases caused by new or expanded programs with reduction in staff and non-personnel expenses.”

The largest single increase was caused by an increase in the contribution to the Virginia Retirement System of $3.5 million. “We can either absorb this increase or pass it along to our staff,” Perry said.

Additionally, $11.9 million will be used to expand the "laptop for students program" that is being piloted at Minnie Howard this year. This money will be used to lease laptop computers for every high school student next year.

The system will need slightly more than $420,000 to meet the requirements of the federally-mandated No Child Left Behind Act and will use an additional $750,000 to purchase updated technology for elementary schools.

Staff will be reduced by a net of .98 full time equivalent positions. There will be a math specialist in each elementary school to help meet the requirements of the Virginia Standards of Learning exams.

“The School Board’s approval of the budget will move us forward in our mission to provide the highest quality education program for all of Alexandria’s children at a time when they face the most stringent academic requirements ever,” Perry said.

THE SCHOOL BOARD will begin the budget review process at a budget work session on Jan. 22, at George Washington Middle School in the library. The business meeting will begin at 7 p.m. and will be followed by the budget work session. Weekly budget work sessions will be held until budget passage, which is scheduled for Feb. 19. The Board will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget on Saturday, Feb. 7, beginning at 9 a.m. in the School Board meeting room.