Henrico County VA

HCPS officials propose budget, await clarity

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Uncertainty about the components of the state's next biennial budget – which legislators are crafting this month – has Henrico County Public Schools officials awaiting clarity as they work to propose their own budget for the coming fiscal year.

HCPS officials are hopeful that Gov. Terry McAuliffe's plan to fund new teaching positions statewide – which would partially cover 46 new elementary school jobs in Henrico in FY16-17 (and another 42 secondary school positions the following year) – will take shape, but for now their budget doesn't include them.

They anticipate that McAuliffe's proposed 2-percent pay raise for teachers will lead to a similar pay raise for all county employees, but for now their tentative school budget does not include one.

And they expect some additional funding from the county's Board of Supervisors, but for now their $448.7-million general fund proposal assumes only $7.6 million in new funding, when compared to the current year's budget.

HCPS Assistant Superintendent for Finance Terry Stone presented the system's $552.4 million budget proposal to the School Board during a work session Jan. 28, at which she told board members that the plan is likely to change in the coming weeks.

The tentative proposal would include funding for a net addition of 36 new full-time equivalency positions:

• 35 teacher positions – including 27 that will be needed simply to maintain the current pupil-to-teacher-ratio as the school system grows by an estimated 392 students in the fall;

• five speech therapist positions;

• one interpreter position;

• one director of family engagement position, which will assist with the division's increased effort to reach and involve families in the educational process;

• and the consolidation of six support-staff positions through reorganization but without any layoffs.

Should the state approve a 2-percent pay raise for teachers, that would cost HCPS about $7.5 million, with the state providing $3.4 million of that amount, Stone said.

In Henrico, though, eligible school system employees cannot receive pay raises unless their eligible general government counterparts do as well (and vice versa), and that would require additional local funding.

"We do expect to have some type of pay increase next fiscal year," Stone said. "We expect that the county manager will propose one, [but] we don't know what that will be."

The additional teaching positions proposed by McAuliffe would help Henrico reduce its pupil-to-teacher ratio, Superintendent Pat Kinlaw said. But the governor's proposal would again provide only partial funding for the positions – $3.4 million of the $5.8 million needed during the two-year period to fund all 88 new positions, Stone told the School Board.

Available funds a ‘little bit sobering’
In the meantime, Stone and her staff crafted their proposal assuming that they'd only have the additional $7.6 million indicated by County Manager John Vithoulkas in a Jan. 11 letter.

Once $6.2 million worth of "non-negotiable" increases were covered – including the 27 teacher positions needed to maintain the PTR; funding for increased healthcare costs and the replacement of aging technology items at elementary schools; and several others – only a small amount was left for all other needs.

"Unless we move dollars [from one planned project to another], all we're really dealing with is about $1.4 million to effect change on a $450-million operating budget," Varina District School Board member John Montgomery said. "Little bit sobering."

Stone and her staff identified about $330,000 in savings, including:

• elimination of the six staff positions, five of which would come from redirecting the shipping of school supplies directly to individual schools, rather than to the HCPS warehouse (where they currently are sorted and then delivered to schools);

• establishment of a rotation for arts performances, whereby half (26) of the county's elementary schools would visit the Richmond Ballet, Theatre IV and Richmond Symphony each year, while secondary schools no longer would visit Theatre IV;

• consolidation of some printing jobs with the county's general government, which would save one full-time salary.

Among proposed new expenditures are:

• $192,000 to train teachers in the Schoolology learning management system (which requires training during the summer, for which teachers must be paid beyond their normal salaries);

• $70,000 to replace aged band equipment and other instruments at various schools;

• $37,600 to cover a $200-per-student tuition increase at the Maggie L. Walker Governor's School, to which Henrico sends 180 students at the current per-student rate of $7,473 annually.

On crossover day at the General Assembly – when bills approved by the House are sent to the Senate, and vice versa – Henrico officials hope to gain some clarity on the state's budget and what type of revenue they can expect to receive. That will take place later this month, likely just a few days before the School Board will vote to approve a budget proposal Feb. 25, then send it to the Board of Supervisors for consideration.

Supervisors will hold their annual weeklong review of all budgetary items in March and will meet with the School Board during that process as usual, before ultimately adopting a county budget April 26. The School Board then will formally adopt its budget two days later.
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Community

Architect of World Trade Center Memorial to speak in Henrico


Michael Arad, the architect of the World Trade Center Memorial, will be the keynote speaker for The 2016 Adolf-Adams JCC Forum on Sat., Jan. 30, 2016 at 7:30 p.m., at the Carole and Marcus Weinstein Jewish Community Center in Henrico.

Arad’s “Reflecting Absence” architectural design was selected from more than 5,000 competitive entries as the template for the Memorial’s construction in New York City. During the forum, Arad will discuss the significance and symbolism of the design, as well as his inspiration. The event, which is a highlight of the Weinstein JCC’s Patron of the Arts series, is open to the public > Read more.

Environmental Film Festival planned for February


The Sixth Annual RVA Environmental Film Festival (RVA EFF) will be held Feb. 1-7, 2016 at various locations, including in Henrico County.

A partnership of The Enrichmond Foundation, Capital Region Land Conservancy, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, and Falls of the James Group - Sierra Club, the festival will feature a number of insightful films designed to raise awareness of environmental issues relative to all residents of the planet and Richmond citizens in particular.

A detailed schedule will be released at a time closer to the festival, but the popular children's portion has been set for Saturday, Feb. 6, at the Byrd Theatre in Carytown. > Read more.
Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


Start celebrating Valentine’s Day a little early with Susan Greenbaum at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen. She will present “An Evening of Love Songs.” Other fun events this weekend include Henrico Rec & Parks’ 30th annual One Act Showcase; “The Lego Movie” playing at the Henrico Theatre (tickets are only $!); and Robin and Linda Williams who will be performing at the Shady Grove Coffeehouse. And homeowners will really appreciate the free Home Improvement Seminar taking place at Harvie ES. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.






 

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