Charlottesville City Schools officials expect to present a balanced funding request for the next fiscal year thanks to a projected $2 million funding increase from the city.
Schools Budget Director Kim Powell told the Charlottesville School Board at a Saturday budget work session at Walker Upper Elementary that she learned of the funding increase in an email.
The division expects to spend $731,000 on staff raises next year — a 1.25 percent “step” increase, which bumps staffers to the next pay grade based on years of service and a 0.75 percent raise. The average increase for division staff comes to 2 percent, officials said.
Health care costs also are expected to rise by about $436,000, or 10 percent, Powell said. The division is undergoing a competitive bid process for health care, which could net some savings, she said.
The schools last year balanced their funding request on a $1.98 million increase from City Hall.
“This is a really good number,” said city schools Assistant Superintendent Ed Gillaspie. “It is more in line with what we have indicated will be needed in a given year.”
The division also expects $650,000 in new state funding, bolstered in part by an increase in the projected number of kindergarteners entering the division.
Those numbers were revised after researchers from the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service provided the division a more accurate way to predict kindergarten enrollment based on births, Powell said.
Schools staff recommended a 5 percent hike in tuition for out-of-district students, which would add about $14,000 in revenue.
Board member Ned Michie said he supported staff raises, but he took issue with staff’s justification that the raises are needed to keep the division’s salaries competitive.
“Going over the step increase is not something we need to do to stay competitive,” he said. “What you always worry about when you do not go over step is that the people at the top are not getting a raise.”
Adam Hastings, a board member who previously worked in the division, said the 2 percent increase is perceived by staff as the step plus 0.75 percent.
“Step increases are how teachers make a living over the long haul … Teachers count the step as by-right,” he said. “It is a cost increase, but the real pay increase here is 0.75 percent.”
Jackson-Via Elementary special education teacher Bonnie Yoder said her raises over the last five years have had little effect on her take-home pay.
“Since 2011, my paycheck has gone up $261 per month. That’s it,” she said. “If I were in the private sector, that would be laughed at as a raise.”
Staff proposed spending $75,000 to add a division administrator dedicated to writing grant proposals and soliciting donations from Charlottesville schools alumni.
“I think we are leaving a lot of potential donations on the table, and this really excites me a lot. I think it will more than pay for itself,” Michie said. “I think that, particularly in our division with the successful people that are out there, that this is really going to pay for itself.”
Schools Superintendent Rosa Atkins will present her formal funding request for board approval on Feb. 2.