Since 2011, the Albemarle County Public Schools have spent $10.8 million on raises for teachers and school staff. The division did not give teachers raises in the school years beginning in 2009 and 2010, documents showed, but spent $6.8 million on raises between 2007 and 2009.
Documents presented to the School Board on Thursday showed that the division has devoted more than 73 percent of new revenues on compensation and benefits since fiscal year 2008.
About 27 percent of new dollars went to cover the cost of school division growth, primarily for additional teachers.
The Albemarle division has grown by nearly 1,000 students in the years since 2008, said Finance Director Jackson Zimmerman, and the proportion of students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch also has increased.
To keep up, the division was forced to cut some programs, Zimmerman said.
“We made millions of dollars of reductions during this time period, and so if we went out and said, this is what growth costs, it exceeded handily the amount of new money that flowed into the division,” he said.
Since FY2011-12, teacher salaries have risen by at least 1 percent, documents showed. Schools bumped salaries 6 percent in 2012-13, the report showed, though five-sixths of that raise was to cover a mandated increase in employee contributions to the Virginia Retirement System.
The division has increased salaries by 2 percent the last two fiscal years.
Those raises have been made despite tightening school budgets and decreasing contributions from state coffers, said Lorna Gerome, the division’s director of human resources.
“It clearly shows that it has been a priority for the board for many years, and the problem, really, is resources; we are constrained by a lack of resources,” she said.
The state’s inflation-adjusted, per-pupil contribution to the division has increased $300 since FY2011-12, the report showed, but it is still below 2009 levels.
For county schools Chief Operating Officer Dean Tistadt, the breakdown is a clear picture of the School Board’s priorities.
“This isn’t a question of the board having a lot of money that it is choosing not to spend on something else,” he said. “This board hasn’t had money, and within the constraints of that, the priority you have given has been to compensation and benefits.”
In a separate report, Zimmerman told the board that there is good news and bad news heading into the 2017-18 budget development cycle.
Revenue projections for the coming fiscal year have improved since November, when staff predicted a $2.3 million shortfall, Zimmerman said, but the division faces an unexpected increase in required VRS contributions.
The VRS contribution, which the division had expected to come next year, will cost the division about $1.3 million, he said.
“Having an increase in VRS in the middle of a biennium does impose a significant burden on local school divisions,” he said. “It would be extremely helpful if our legislators would change their mind and push this to the next year.”
Superintendent Pam Moran will present her funding request for next year to the board Jan. 19.