Alexandria Superintendent Alvin Crawley’s proposed budget leaves Alexandria Public Schools’ with $9.6 million funding gap, even with 2 percent funding cuts to every school department. With the city facing high infrastructure and Metro costs, Alexandria City Public Schools will have to compete even more fiercely than usual for this year’s funding. But Crawley said that figure came with significant cuts that will impact Alexandria students.
Crawley said the initial gap was $16.1 million, but ACPS dipped into reserve funds and required all departments to cut two percent of their budgets for a total $5 million in savings.
“In terms of impact, in our technology department we will reduce licenses and subscriptions to online programs,” said Crawley. “That means fewer options [for students]. For curriculum and construction, we made reductions there in terms of materials. In the facilities department, we had to reduce allocation around custodial contracts.”
The $261.8 million proposed operating budget is a 3.3 percent increase over the previous year’s budget. The remaining $9.6 million gap is largely a $4.8 million step increase for ACPS employees. ACPS employees have received step increases the last two years. An FY 2016 Washington Area Boards of Education report found that the average teacher salary in Alexandria was $74,431, lower than Arlington’s average teacher salary was $78,002 but higher than Fairfax’s $67,589 or Loudoun County’s $65,581 average.
“As we look at enrollment growth, we have to continue to attract more teachers into classrooms,” said Crawley. “A step increase is one of the strategies in terms of systems of support to be competitive. As we grow in enrollment, want to continue to recruit and maintain staff.”
$2.7 million of the remaining budget gap is a state-mandated increase in Virginia Retirement System payments for staff.