Sunday, December 10, 2023

Virginia Beach School Board submits its budget proposal to City Council

The School Administration Building (Southside Daily Stock Photo)
The School Administration Building (Southside Daily Stock Photo)

VIRGINIA BEACH – The school division has sent its spending plan for next year to Mayor Will Sessoms and the City Council, and it carries a hopeful tone.

“Although the General Assembly has not yet passed the state’s budget, we are cautiously optimistic about public education funding for the first time in many years,” Chairman Dan Edwards wrote in a letter to all members of City Council.

Edwards listed some of the highlights of what the school division’s planned $716.4 million operating budget will cover, such as expanding the full-day kindergarten program, replacing school buses, starting Kempsville Academy and giving teachers and other employees a 2 percent raise.

The spending request is about $15 million more than the division’s current $701.6 million operating budget.

“I am pleased to say that for the first time in several years, we are not proposing a class-size increase and our reliance on one-time money is reduced by $3.3 million,” Edwards wrote. “This is no small feat when you consider that major policy changes at the state level have resulted in more than $1.7 billion in cuts to K-12 funding since 2009.”

Edwards added that while the budget picture looks better than it has in previous years, the school district is still receiving about $35.9 million less in state funding than it did in 2009.

“As good stewards of the taxpayers’ money, we have made a conscientious effort to employ cost-saving measures wherever possible,” Edwards wrote. “Despite significant unmet needs delineated in this budget, we have avoided requesting funding above the current formula level.”

Last year, the School Board asked for funding above the formula level, resulting in an extra $12 million from the city. That put the division’s current budget at $701.6 million.

The school district is also optimistic that actual revenues from the upcoming state budget and the city-school revenue sharing formula will exceed the estimates in the division’s spending plan by a couple of million dollars.

Edwards called the plan a “reflection of our commitment to providing a rigorous learning opportunity for children and a solid return on investment for City Council and the citizens of Virginia Beach.”

The School Board will approve an amended budget in April after the General Assembly finalizes state funding levels for education. The City Council is expected to pass the final budget by June.

The letter included the School Board’s recent resolutions on its budget and capital improvement program.

City manager Dave Hansen said in a letter to the City Council that the full budget will be provided to them next week.

Read Edwards’ letter and the School Board resolutions:

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Have a story idea or news tip? Contact schools reporter Kelly Kultys or 757-490-2750.

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