APS News Release

Arlington Superintendent Presents Proposed Budget For 2017-18 School Year

FY 2018 Budget Highlights

  • Allocates funds for staff and operational needs to support growing enrollment
  • Provides a compensation increase for eligible staff
  • Pays for increase in the Virginia Retirement System rate
  • Maintains funding to continue initiatives in FY 2017 budget
  • Includes a $14 million funding gap without increase to County transfer

Today, Arlington Superintendent Dr. Pat Murphy presented his proposal for the FY 2018 Arlington Public Schools (APS) budget to fund operations for the 2017-18 school year. The FY 2018 budget totals $617 million.

This year’s budget process began with a projected deficit that ranged from $22 to $28 million, due to rising enrollment growth combined with a projected increase in the Virginia Retirement System contribution rate. During budget development, APS updated forecasts with the State and the County, identified efficiencies to reduce costs, used one-time funding strategically to reduce the budget gap, and worked closely with County staff. The proposed budget still depends upon an additional $14 million to fully fund its needs.

School Board Budget Direction
Last fall, the School Board directed the Superintendent to develop a “needs-based” budget that assumes the County Transfer will be equal to the amount required for meeting the critical needs of the school division. The Board prioritized increased compensation for staff; continued investment in initiatives to meet the needs of the whole child and provide 21st century learning opportunities; and full staffing for growing enrollment. Additionally, the Board’s budget direction included efforts to identify cost savings, options for increased fees, and opportunities to use closeout funding to pay for one-time expenses. This budget reflects the School Board’s direction and ensures that APS is able to meet the needs of a growing student body while retaining a strong record of student achievement.

Components of FY18 Budget
The proposed budget for next year totals $617 million, which currently depends upon an additional $14 million in the County’s Transfer to APS to fully fund its needs. Murphy said, “We are grateful for the support of the community, which has a long history of strong support for our public schools,” Murphy said. “APS is a vital community asset, fostering consistent, outstanding student achievement in the classroom that leads to their individual growth and future success.”

The primary cost drivers of this year’s budget are:

  • $9.2 million for student enrollment growth;
  • $8.7 million for a step increase for eligible staff;
  • $4.2 million for the increase in the Virginia Retirement System rate;
  • $2.4 million to begin a three-year phase in of additional compensation to align with the current market for certain employees;
  • $7.8 million to continue the initiatives that began in the FY 2017 budget (including the expansion of Arlington Tech at the Career Center, Central Registration, additional psychologists and social workers, substance abuse counselor, full-time bus drivers and bus attendants, safety and security upgrades, and technology support).

APS staff solicited input from the community on their budget priorities, and their suggestions were gathered at public meetings, through online feedback, from advisory group discussions, and outreach to diverse stakeholders throughout the community. Staff identified efficiencies to reduce expenditures and incorporated funding from reserves for one-time expenditures. If full funding is not provided, the budget includes a tiered list of proposed cuts for next year.

“As our enrollment continues to rise significantly, we recognize that our community is committed to preserving our highly-valued public schools,” Murphy stated in his presentation to the School Board. “This proposed budget makes sure our schools remain a vital community asset, and that we continue to challenge each student instructionally, while providing personalized learning and support for the whole child – academically, emotionally, physically and socially.”

Possible Strategies to Close $14 Million Funding Gap
The proposed budget includes a tiered list of cuts that could be considered if all or a portion of the $14 million funding gap cannot be closed. By tier, these are the proposed reductions: 

Tier 1 – Savings of $2.9 million; eliminates 23 staff positions

  • Reduce staff, including some administrative assistants, STEM teacher specialists, and a few positions in Facilities and Operations and Information Services;
  • Postpone addition of school psychologists and social workers;
  • Eliminate “Live Where You Work” program; professional development for new cohort;
  • Implement utilities efficiencies and select services, such as after school activity buses.

Tier 2 – Savings of $3.5 million; eliminates 35 staff positions

  • Increase class size by 1 for grades 4-12;
  • Eliminate Emergency Manager position;
  • Reduce assigned cell phones; professional development funding.

Tier 3 – Savings of $5.3 million, eliminates 20.1 staff positions

  • Postpone step increase to halfway through fiscal year;
  • Increase class size by 1 for grades K-3;
  • Change custodial space square footage to 22,000;
  • Eliminate recruitment coordinator and Print Shop.

This afternoon, the County Manager announced at a Budget Work Session announced that he is recommending to the County Board a two-cent tax increase, with one cent devoted to increased funding for APS’ growing needs and one cent to fund Metro costs. The Manager also recommended allocating additional one-time revenue for Schools.  Murphy said, “We greatly appreciate the County Manager’s support for schools in his proposed budget. His recommendation for increased funding to help maintain the investment in our students will help ensure that we can continue to provide high quality schools and staff to ensure excellent opportunities to learn for our students, now and in the future. We look forward to continuing our discussions with the County Board, County staff and the Arlington community in the weeks ahead as we work toward finalizing our budget for next year.”

FY 2018 Budget Documents
All materials related to the FY 2018 Budget, including the FY 2018 budget calendar, the Superintendent’s Proposed Budget and Feb. 23 presentation, and the School Board’s budget priorities are available online. Visit aps2016.apsva.us/engage to provide your feedback and input throughout the process, and use #APSBudget on social media to join the conversation.