Adjusting Shortfall in Alexandria

Adjusting Shortfall in Alexandria

School Board struggles to close operating and capital budget gaps.

Before Superintendent Dr. Alvin Crawley leaves in the summer, there’s still one major hurdle at Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS): the budget. While the City Council approved $242.6 million in operating funds and debt service for public schools, ACPS still faces shortfalls in both their operating and capital improvement plan budgets.

The first step in the budget process is to close the $2.1 million gap in the operating budget. The easiest changes come from revenue adjustments, which led to an increase of $246,200. This comes from a change in the state budget and Medicaid funding. The majority of that closure comes from $1,841,672 in expenditure adjustments.

This starts with another technical adjustment: $79,163 for the pay differences between initial projections of employee staffing and actual staffing in Spring 2017.

The superintendent’s proposed adjustments also includes a slight price increase: 1.2 full time employee from the School Board Approved Budget at a cost increase of $103,693.

An additional $92,416 was reduced from the capital replacement of hardware budget.

Due to the CIP-funded replacement of buses approaching their end of life, $100,000 for vehicle parts, supplies, maintenance and repair was decreased in the operating budget.

A communications outreach specialist for Capital Projects position in the operating budget was removed for $100,000 savings.

Four teacher-on-assignment positions, teachers assigned to duties outside of a classroom, are recommended to be ended and the employees currently staffed in these positions will be assigned to other teaching positions. To replace them, two full-time student attendents will need to be hired for a net budget decrease of $462,055.

The West End Elementary and the Pre-K Center are scheduled to open in Fall 2018, and the FY2018 budget originally included paying a principal, registrar and administrative assistant position to facilitate during the pre-opening year. These hires will be delayed until Jan. 1, 2018 for the registrars and administrative assistants to save $88,676.

One science instructional specialist position and a reduction in extended learning funding were originally cut in the superintendent’s budget, but restored in the add/delete session for a total

In the superintendent’s plan, the largest cost savings proposal was to be a delay in the full step increase for eligible employees in ACPS. The increase would have been implemented Oct. 1 rather than July 1. The deferral is expected to reduce expenditures by $743,415. However, during the School Board’s add/delete sessions, the School Board pushed for the step increase to be restored to July 1.

In total, the School Board additions restored $923,177 million of what the superintendent had cut. To balance this, the School Board proposed an equal number of deletions. New textbooks for English language arts (grades K-2) and both French and Spanish language programs (grades 6-13) will be deferred for a $435,000 savings.

Revisions to T.C. Williams High School’s instructional periods could save $300,000. Based on preliminary projections of a position-by-position analysis underway, three full-time employee positions can be reduced or consolidated.

In the School Board offices, $50,000 was proposed to be reduced from services primarily used for internal audits and legal expenses. While two audits had been planned, this reduction would mean only one will be carried out.

ACPS also faces a $238 million budget gap over its 10-year capital improvement plan. Crawley’s proposed budget reduces that overall gap to $86.4 million with no budget gap in FY 2018. To close this year’s gap,

funding for relocatable classrooms was reduced from 34 classrooms to 30.

The $22 million request for swing space, temporary school structures to be used while current schools undergo construction or renovation, was pushed to the FY 2019 budget. As a result, the school repairs for Douglas Macarthur and George Mason Elementary Schools were each delayed one year, due to their reliance on swing space. Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology renovations are pushed back two years. These delays come with their own costs, however, with $1 million required in FY 2022 to alleviate issues with schools being modernized later than recommended.

On Thursday, May 25 the School Board will adopt the CIP and Combined-Funds Budget.