Charlottesville City Schools Superintendent Rosa Atkins has submitted an $83.7 million funding request for the fiscal year beginning July 1.
The spending plan would have the School Board request $54 million from the City Council — a $2.67 million increase.
More than $1.19 million of the city schools’ proposed spending increase would go towards a 4 percent average pay raise for teachers. The funding request also includes a 2 percent average raise for classified staff.
After receiving a consultant’s recommendations to make the division’s teacher compensation more competitive, Atkins added $106,331 to the funding request to raise Charlottesville’s annual supplement for teachers with master’s or doctoral degrees by $200. The supplement for this year is $2,116.
“We want teachers who are getting master’s degrees and getting experience; this is our first step to attract and retain those teachers,” School Board member Amy Laufer said at a Wednesday work session.
“[Increasing the supplement] seems to me a very reasonable, prudent step to take now,” School Board member Sherry Kraft said.
At the School Board’s Jan. 13 work session, division staff presented a $120,000 initiative to create a “Grand Teaching Award” for innovative educational units and projects throughout the school division.
Atkins said the teaching awards would be modeled after an existing grant program for local teachers administered by the Edgar and Eleanor Shannon Foundation. She said as many as 200 teachers could win the awards each year.
“Kids remember those moments when they perform on stage or speak to an audience,” said Jim Henderson, Charlottesville’s associate superintendent for curriculum and instruction. “We don’t have those moments consistently [in our classrooms] from month to month. These grants will support innovative, cross-curricular activities that will create those ‘peak moments.’”
Atkins said a panel of teachers and administrators would evaluate proposals and award grants for plans that met predetermined criteria. Division staff would collect and share a repository of award-winning units which other teachers could duplicate.
Atkins has requested $120,280 for a new administrative position dedicated to planning for a specialized academy program. Atkins said the academy would aim to engage underperforming students in hands-on experiential learning.
“[This employee] would study how we might create an academy for students in our division who may have had challenges before coming to our schools or for students who are functioning at grade level, but have the potential to go way beyond that,” Atkins said.
The city schools’ Technical Support Services department has requested an additional $125,772 to make changes to its staffing next year. The department proposed hiring a technology support specialist and a senior network engineer, which would allow for the elimination of two help desk positions.
Technical Support Services also requested $60,000 for network security improvements. Director of Technology Jeff Faust said cyberattacks last year forced some U.S. school divisions to make ransom payments exceeding $100,000.
“There’s a reason why nefarious people are seeing this as an economic opportunity,” Faust said. “We are trying to stay ahead of that. We have done so, but now is the time to invest and make sure that we’re protected.”
Atkins’ funding request also includes new elementary-level teaching positions for art, world languages and integrated STEM (iSTEM) and an additional engineering teacher for Charlottesville High School.
A requested pay scale adjustment for the athletic director position at Charlottesville High School would give current Athletic Director Rodney Redd a $15,278 raise next year.
While the minimum salary for a high school athletic director in Albemarle County is $72,958, Charlottesville’s starting salary for the position is only $50,741.
Atkins and the School Board are slated to meet with the City Council on Thursday to discuss the fiscal 2019 budget. The School Board will hold a public hearing on the budget on Feb. 1.
The School Board is expected to approve a budget proposal at its Feb. 15 meeting.