Final Alexandria school budget cuts due May 21

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City Council has passed a budget for the city and for the public school system. All that remains is for ACPS to cut $1.5 million from the boards proposed budget to balance it with what City Council has authorized.

Since council adopted the budget last week, the School Board has held three budget work sessions. We had our most productive session on Monday night, said School Board Chairman Arthur Peabody. We now had a list of suggested cuts to consider. After the public hearing this weekend, I think we will be ale to work through them expeditiously.

The board proposed a budget that was $6.8 million above what City Manager Jim Hartmann recommended. City Council restored $4.7 million of that money, leaving the School Board a deficit of $2.1 million. The School Boards budget originally included a two-percent Cost of Living Adjustment for school staff and the city approved a 1.5-percent COLA for city and school staff. That reduced the deficit to $1.4 million.

As Councils actions became clear to the School Board, members met and adjusted staff and retirees health benefits, saving just over $200,000. With some technical adjustments, that leaves only $1.1 million to cut.

I want to make sure that we cut things that dont directly affect children in the classroom, said Board Member Charles Wilson. Im looking at such things as overhead and nice-to-haves. I was willing to look at increasing class sizes by two or three kids at some schools but my colleagues dont support that so I am backing off my support for that at this time.

Remaining on the table are cuts to Central Office amounting to around $300,000; cuts to the technology initiative (laptops for every high school student) amounting to around $400,000 and cuts to extended contracts to retired staff who return to work in ACPS schools.

We want to impact our students as little as possible and there are cuts we can make to accomplish that goal, Peabody said.

The School Board will make its final cuts and adopt an FY 2008 budget on Monday, May 21.

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