ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - There’s a budget proposal on the table for Albemarle County schools, and despite the ongoing pandemic and economic hardships, the school division is optimistic.
Superintendent Matthew Haas says this budget will make the school division stronger than it was pre-pandemic, due in part to strong revenue projections.
“The contributors to the financial outlook that’s very positive are the recovering economies at the county and state levels,” said Haas.
This year’s draft budget has a projected $12 million more from local and state governments than last year’s budget.
The county schools also plan to use over $6 million in CARES Act funding from the federal government. Haas wants to use that money to address learning loss due to the pandemic.
“We’re hoping to have a broader partnership with community service organizations to provide programs to address the physical, social, and emotional health of students during the summer,” said Haas.
Haas says part of the division’s commitment to students is having high-quality staff. That’s why nearly two-thirds of the increase in spending will go to raise employee pay.
“Nice, kind words mean a lot, but it’s also important to help people make ends meet,” said Haas.
Nearly 1-in-5 ACPS employees makes less than $15 an hour, but the new budget includes a two-phased $15 an hour minimum wage.
“They are the backbone of much of what we do,” said Haas. “Our child nutrition employees, bus drivers, assistants, custodians, people that without them we really couldn’t do the work that we’re doing.”
Teachers would also benefit from a 3% salary increase.
The district is also expecting a return to pre-COVID enrollment levels.
The next budget session is scheduled for Thursday, February 25.