Focuses on Education, Equity and Employee Compensation
Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán proposed a $704.4 million needs-based FY 2022 budget on Feb. 25. The budget, his first as Arlington Public Schools (APS) Superintendent, focuses on supporting education and equity, while addressing the unique challenges presented by the pandemic. To fully fund the FY22 budget, APS will need an additional $42.5 million in revenue to meet the needs outlined.
“Given the unique challenges we have faced this year and the recovery ahead of us as we begin to return to in-person operations, the proposed budget emphasizes support for education, equity and our employees. We must continue to support and invest in our teachers and staff, who drive the success of our school system and foster the learning and growth of all students.”The FY22 Budget follows the School Board’s direction to present a needs-based budget aligning with the Strategic Plan and the division’s Mission, Vision and Core Values; focusing on:
- Excellent education regardless of the delivery model;
- Supporting innovative staff; and
- Providing a compensation increase to staff, if fiscally possible.
It also directs the Superintendent to continue initiatives started in previous budget years and provide for the recommendations and requirements outlined in the Program Evaluations for English Learners and Students with Disabilities and the DOJ Settlement Agreement, if fiscally possible.
To focus on supporting staff, this budget includes a 2% cost of living adjustment (COLA) for all employees. Because of the unexpected changes caused by the pandemic, APS was not able to provide a compensation increase this current fiscal year for employees.
“We want to ensure that ALL employees receive a compensation increase in FY22,” said Dr. Durán. “A step increase would not provide a compensation increase to 35% of our full-time employees or to 100% of our hourly workers and substitutes. A COLA ensures that everyone will receive something.”
This budget also supports education and equity by providing funding for the opening of new buildings and the relocation of three schools. It has funded additional investments to support growth, as well as safety and security needs, network infrastructure and technology supports, and increased funding to maintain our operational infrastructure.
The budget includes funding for:
- Enrollment Growth: Staffing Materials and Supplies for Increased Enrollment
- New Standards of Quality ratios for Elementary School Counselors
- Spring Staffing Update
- Increased Staffing and Services for Students with Disabilities
- Additional Resources for English Learners
- Instructional and Mental Health Supports
- Funding for the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Pandemic Economic Impact
Revenue to APS has been significantly impacted by the pandemic’s effect on the economy. County revenue, which increased an average of $19 million or more per year prior to FY21, is essentially flat for FY22. State revenue for FY22 will decrease based on the Governor’s Proposed budget. Normally, APS has seen an increase in state aid of just over $4 million per year. If approved by Congress in its current form, the American Rescue Plan could provide an additional $20.5 million to APS that would significantly aid in closing the gap. There are a number of external budget factors at the state, county, and APS levels that are putting pressure on the budget.
Steps Taken to Reduce the Budget Gap
Many more new requests were received than could be considered in the FY22 budget. Departments and schools making budget requests were asked to phase them in over two to four years. Staff reviewed the existing allocation of funds and use of resources to identify ways to realign resources through collaboration between central office and school-based staff.
Additionally, the baseline budgets were reviewed for any efficiencies and adjustments were made as needed in an effort to better meet the needs of students and help close the budget gap. This budget also uses reserves to offset one-time costs and offset up to 50% of the increases in debt service, VRS rates, and compensation.
Three tiers of reductions are included in the FY22 budget that provides a path to closing the current budget gap should additional funding not be realized. All three tiers must be taken to balance the budget as it currently stands. If additional funding is received, the budget would be revised to eliminate reductions from consideration starting with Tier 3, then Tier 2, then Tier 1.
The School Board is set to adopt the proposed budget on April 8 and act on the final budget on May 6. Additional details and budget dates are available online.