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Votes

Column: Budget Plan Invests in Community’s Future

I am honored to present to you my FY 2013 Proposed Operating Budget which is dedicated to the amazing students who attend Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS). It is my privilege to serve our students and this community.

The proposed budget is designed to move us forward in our school division’s transition to academic excellence. I know that you join me in wanting to provide the best possible education to every ACPS student.

I believe that the FY 2013 proposed budget is an excellent budget, which balances the needs of our students, our community’s expectations, and the constraints of economic resources.

We have experienced extraordinary changes in our country and in Alexandria over the past four years. I am struck by the urgency of the work we must do as a school division:

  • More children lived in poverty in 2010 (21.5 percent) than in 2008 (18.5 percent).

  • The poverty rate in Alexandria has increased substantially to 9.9 percent.

  • More students are now eligible for free and reduced priced meals with an increase in the division average from 49 to 56 percent. Several schools have poverty rates that increased more than 15 percentage points, including T.C. Williams, Polk, Ramsay, and Cora Kelly elementary schools.

Clearly we must make sure our students thrive at ACPS and graduate prepared to succeed at work, in the armed services, in college, and in life.

The FY 2013 Proposed Operating Budget of $215,691,137, is an increase of 2.4 percent, or $5,121,985 from the FY 2012 Approved Operating Budget. Additionally the FY 2013 Proposed Combined Funds Budget of $236,331,598, a 1.8 percent increase from the FY 2012 Approved Combined Funds Budget, includes $13,741,480 in grants and $6,898,981 in school nutrition funds. The proposal also includes a request for a City appropriation of $180,351,730, an increase of 3.2 percent from FY 2012.

The proposed budget includes the following to protect our sacred core mission:

  • Maintain small class sizes and low student/counselor ratios at secondary schools. Class sizes remain the smallest in Northern Virginia, and ACPS has the lowest student/counselor ratio in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

— Total Cost to Address: $71.1 million.

  • Support for a projected 3,178 English Language Learners (ELL) students

— Total Cost to Address - $9.8 million

  • Support for a projected 1,478 special education students

— Total Cost to Address -$24 million (excluding special education transportation costs and grant funding)

  • Restructure of intersession and summer school programs to provide funding for extended learning opportunities for all schools, not just modified calendar schools

  • Investment in staff through professional development and salary increases

  • Reduction of 21 central office positions and reallocation of funds

  • Establish a competitive funding process for external partners to ensure effectiveness is measured; reducing funding by $300,000

  • Establish high school satellite campuses for Flexible and Extended Learning Opportunities for students and redesign our adult education program

— Total Cost to Address - $4.1 million

  • Total program efficiency savings: $10.8 million

  • Total cost to address increased enrollment: $4.0 million

Students: Each of you is amazing with limitless potential to succeed. Every dollar in this budget will be spent on ensuring that you achieve that potential.

Staff: This budget continues our investment in you.

Parents: We are humbled that you entrust your children to us; we will not fail you or them.

To Our Community: Your investment in our students is an investment in our City’s future.

To the Board: Over the next few months, you will consider all of the components of this proposed budget and hold public hearings and work sessions. In the end, this will become your budget, which will move ACPS forward in our transition to academic excellence.

We welcome your involvement in the budget process and your feedback at upcoming public hearing sessions. For more information on how to get involved, visit our website http://www.acps.k12.va.us.

By Morton Sherman, Ed.D.

ACPS Superintendent