The School Board adopted a revised $1.48 billion Fiscal Year 2022 budget Tuesday night after making one final change to offer students up to four free Advanced Placement tests.
That $810,000 budget action came as an alternative to a Board of Supervisors request to eliminate the $75 charged for athletics. That request was made as supervisors cut the School Board’s local funding request by $28.6 million last month.
School Board members said offering free AP tests would have a greater educational impact and pointed out that athletic fees were recently cut in half. Several members said they hoped to have the opportunity to reduce or eliminate sports and other fees during next year’s budget talks.
The school division staff made quick work to adjust the budget to reflect the lower inflow of county revenue. That funding gap was largely erased by an $8.7 millionincrease in state funding and a determination by the state Department of Education that cleared the way for $7.7 million in federal emergency aid to pay for expanded summer school offerings. Another $4.5 million was offset by a staff proposal to use year-end surplus funds to pay for one-time purchases. To complete the budget rebalancing, board accepted the staff proposals todrop the $1.9 million earmark to begin a collective bargaining program and to not hire six non-mandated health clinic specialists.
In addition to the AP test fee waivers, the School Board on Tuesday night discussed a proposal by Beth Barts (Leesburg) to roll back a plan to hire 15 special education deans in elementary schools, in the hopes of keeping the most experienced special education teachers involved with face-to-face instruction rather than lose many to supervisory positions. The proposal was made at the request of the Special Education Advisory Committee.
However, other School Board members said that school principals had identified the dean program as a key initiative that would improve the coordination of special education programs.