By Erich Wagner (File photo)
Interim Superintendent Alvin Crawley said that with student enrollment in Alexandria expected to spike in the coming year, even a multi-million dollar increase over last year’s appropriation from City Hall still might not be enough for the school district to make ends meet.
Crawley presented a $252.8 million budget for the 2014-2015 school year to the city school board Thursday night, an increase of $8.4 million over last year’s $244.4 million budget.
A projected 4-percent spike in enrollment next school year is behind the spike, along with increases in mandated costs like employee benefits and facilities maintenance, he said. Although his proposal requests an additional 4 percent, about $7.4 million, from the city, Crawley said the district still faces a $6.2 million budget shortfall.
“Because of the funding constraints that we have, we will not be able to move forward with [hiring] for the important English Language Learners program by a factor of 11 teachers,” Crawley said. “We also can’t provide step increases or cost of living adjustments. … There is worthy work that we won’t be able to fund next year.”
Crawley added that the system will also be unable to expand pre-kindergarten or before- and after-school programs as officials had planned.
And the proposed increase in city funding is no guarantee, Crawley said. He noted that city staff recommended agencies propose only a 1 percent increase in budgets. If the city chooses to fund the school system at lower levels, more drastic cuts may occur, the superintendent warned.
“If we have to make additional cuts, some of the things I have described as critical elements to success for our schools, we’ll have to go back and look at them,” he said. “From class size increases, to the flex positions that are so critical to our schools, we’ll have to look at these folks and the work they do, along with benefits for current employees as well as retirees.
“It will have an impact on our ability to move forward as a school division.”
The school board will host the first of a series of work sessions examining sections of the budget February 10. Officials are encouraging residents to send in comments about the budget proposal at http://www.acps.k12.va.us/budgets/.
A previous version of the story inaccurately described the increase in the school system’s combined budget total.