Chesterfield school board approves proposed budget with $55 million increase

Chesterfield School Board approves budget with $55 million increase

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) -The Chesterfield County School Board has approved a budget proposal for the fiscal year 2021, but it falls about $30 million short of what Superintendent Dr. Merv Daugherty asked for.

Daughtery requested an increase of $99.9 million but the school board ultimately approved an increase of $55,498,174.

“Our budget proposal is our ask, we would like to ask more,” explained school board chair Debbie Bailey. "We presented a balanced budget. Initially, we were talking about a needs-based budget, then [supervisors] gave us a number that we needed to operate within, that they had to give to schools. We had to cut to meet that number.”

The cuts impacted the increase in teacher pay that Daugherty had requested to allocate.

“It’s difficult to say that a $55 million increase is not a win for our students, because there are a number of items that support students, teachers and schools included in the approved budget,” Superintendent Dr. Marv Daugherty said. “However, we need to do more to support our teachers or I fear they will not be with us for the long term. The School Board has acknowledged and we have heard that, in addition to meeting state requirements, teacher pay is the No 1 issue moving forward.”

“I’m sad that we cannot give teachers more than a 2 percent pay raise at this time, but I am hopeful that the Board of Supervisors is funding a study to decompress teacher salary scale, and when that study comes back. We will be able to address the nationwide crisis in teacher pay," said Bailey.

The Chesterfield Board of Supervisors recently allocated $100,000 for a salary study which will provide recommendations for addressing the teacher pay crisis.

The budget also includes a $0.75 an hour increase for bus drivers. Bailey says the demand for drivers is greater than the supply. Chesterfield County began the 2019-2020 school year with around 40 driver vacancies.

“We have a huge demand and a low supply and the only way you’re going to improve that is to increase that salary,” she explained.

The new budget includes $30 million in new revenue from the state, $12 million new revenue from the local government and about $8.5 million in carryover funds.

Bailey says a highlight of the budget is more money allocated for students’ supplies and materials. For years that amount for $54 per student, it has been increased to $89.

“We did something that I was very excited about, we did what we call an equity add on piece,” explained Bailey. “Additional monies are added on to the $89 for students with disabilities, ESL students, and students who get free and reduced lunch. Schools that teach our most needy students are going to get more funds."

The board voted in favor of the budget proposal, which they have sent to the Board of Supervisors.

There will be several community meetings prior to the Board of Supervisors making a final decision on the budget. The meetings are an opportunity for the community to speak weigh in, and speaker to county leaders.

Upcoming FY21 Proposed Budget Community Meetings:

  • March 12 - Matoaca District Community Meeting (1 p.m. @ Clover Hill Library)
  • March 16 - Midlothian District Community Meeting (7 p.m. @ JTCC, Midlothian Campus - Hamel Hall, H109)
  • March 18 - Dale District Community Meeting (2 p.m. @ Meadowdale Library)
  • March 18 - Dale District Community Meeting (7 p.m. @ Meadowdale Library)
  • March 19 - Bermuda District Community Meeting (1 p.m. @ Bensley Community Center)
  • March 19 - Bermuda District Community Meeting (7 p.m. @ Thomas Dale High School)
  • March 23 - Clover Hill and Matoaca Districts Community Meeting (7 p.m. @ Clover Hill High School)
  • March 24 - Matoaca District Community Meeting ( 7 p.m. @ Matoaca High School)

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