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Schools to trim funding request by $425,000

The Charlottesville School Board is cutting an additional $425,000 out of its funding request as city officials continue to take a hard look at the spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year.

The School Board formally presented a funding request for next fiscal year of $61.7 million during Monday’s City Council meeting.

Superintendent Rosa Atkins said that one of the drivers of increased spending is healthcare costs, which have been projected at $1.1 million. Atkins said that number has since been reduced by about $425,000.

City Manager Tarron Richardson also formally presented his proposed $196.6 million budget for fiscal year 2021, which starts July 1.

Richardson’s plan proposes $59.4 million for the school division.

He also is laying out a $35.3 million Capital Improvement Program and $111 million in other dedicated funds.

The spending plan is a $7.7 million increase, or 4.11%, over the fiscal 2020 budget.

One of the main issues for the schools’ and city’s spending plans is that they started at different points. Atkins’ request is a $3.8 million increase over the amended fiscal 2020 allocation, which included a $468,000 allocation in August to hire six teachers for the gifted education program.

Richardson’s proposal bases funding off of the adopted budget, which allocated $57.36 million to the division.

While Richardson’s proposal is $2.1 million more than the adopted fiscal 2020 budget, it is only $1.6 million over the amended budget.

Atkins said the gifted teacher funding was included in the proposal to ensure the program continues.

“When we hire teachers, we anticipate the teachers, their positions, will be continuing,” she said. “It’s not a one-time event.”

School Board Chairwoman Jennifer McKeever said she is “deeply concerned with the city manager’s proposed budget.”

“The School Board has never had to come before City Council and ask council to intentionally veer from the city manager’s proposed budget,” she said. “Throughout the years we have worked with city staff to avoid a messy public dispute over our funding request.”

Another point of contention is how city staff goes about crafting Charlottesville’s allocation to the school division. Staff operates off a non-binding City Council guideline to automatically contribute 40% of new real estate and personal property tax revenues.

Richardson said the city has consistently paid above that formula since fiscal 2011. If the city had only followed the formula, he said, the division would be receiving only $52.9 million this year.

The council will review and tweak Richardson’s proposal over the coming weeks. After his presentation, councilors indicated a desire to work on more funding for schools, affordable housing and climate change while revisiting a planned parking garage on Market Street.

The council will hold a budget work session on Thursday at 5 p.m. at CitySpace.


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