Frequently Asked Questions: ACPS Budget Changes:
Has ACPS changed its budget priorities in light of the COVID-19 pandemic next year?
Even though we are experiencing a pandemic, the needs of our students and staff remain. It is imperative that we continue to focus these FY21 Budget Priorities as we determine the expenditures to reduce. The board approved FY21 Budget Priorities continue to set the foundation for our revised budget approach.
What reductions did ACPS face as a result of COVID-19?
ACPS faced $11,709,700 in reductions to its original budget as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- City Appropriation reduction ($7,400,000)
- State Revenue reduction ($4,000,000)
- Local Revenue reduction ($309,700)
How did ACPS adjust its Operating Budget to make up this shortfall?
ACPS found this $11,709,700 in reductions in a variety of ways.:
- Healthcare and dental plans came in under projected amounts, which resulted in health benefit savings of $720,500.
- ACPS had been intending to contribute 0.5% to employees’ Supplemental Retirement. The school division will no longer contribute the intended $866,400 to this retirement fund. This is likely to result in the employee contribution needing to be increased in the future.
- The annual step increase was eliminated, saving $5,524,000.
- The budget approved by the School Board in February included a 2% One-Time Bonus for staff who are at the top of their scale or are on a hold step, who would not be eligible for the step raise. This was in the revised budget, saving $557,500.
- The superintendent reduced the numbers of new positions included in the budget for next year from 29.8 to 13.7 positions. The positions that remain in the budget are essential, saving $1,514,200.
- All ACPS offices, departments and schools identified a 5% cut in their operating budgets for next year, saving $1,777,100.
- The superintendent instituted a hiring freeze for all Central Office and non-classroom positions in FY 2021, saving $750,000. Vital positions will go through a review and approval before being advertised. No position will be advertised before the position is vacant.
Did ACPS receive any of the CARES Act Funding?
Currently, ACPS is expected to receive $3,674,941 under the terms of the Coronavirus Aid, Recovery and Economic Security Act — also known as the CARES Act, approved by Congress and signed into law on March 27. This is roughly $70,000 more than anticipated.
How is ACPS intending to use the CARES Act Funding?
The $3.67M of CARES Act funding will be used to support four areas:
- Distance Learning
- Food distribution: ACPS has distributed up to 38,000 meals each week to families in need during the coronavirus pandemic.
- Expanded technology to meet the needs to all students in terms of internet access and Chromebooks so that learning can continue.
- Educational facilities: Deep cleaning all school buildings and offices to ensure they are safe and healthy when ACPS reopens; Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to ensure essential staff can continue to work safely in school facilities during the pandemic; and funding to purchase PPE for staff to ensure safety when ACPS reopens.
How will these adjustments impact take-home pay for staff?
A one-time $158 payment was added for all staff not receiving the MRA. This will help mitigate or eliminate the impact they would otherwise have felt due to the increased healthcare costs. As a result of this, some staff will see an increase in their take-home pay.
The impact to an individual’s take-home pay depends on the healthcare benefits each employee chooses. United Healthcare plans premium is expected to increase 8.5% while Kaiser 4.5%.
How will the reduction in Professional development days impact teachers?
These are personal professional development days that are usually offered to all teachers to enable them to explore professional development in their own particular area. As the coronavirus pandemic will undoubtedly limit travel for everyone in the upcoming year, it would have been less likely that teachers would have been able to use these professional development days in the usual way. Therefore, the funding usually allocated for substitute teachers for this purpose, can be reallocated to pay staff the one-time $158 payment.
Why did some groups of staff still get a Market Rate Adjustment (MRA), despite the need for across-the-board reductions?
Any of the specific groups previously recommended for MRAs in the approved budget continued to get these Market Rate Adjustments. This includes paraprofessional IVs; transportation workers; elementary, preK-8 and middle school principals; and chiefs. These groups were part of a compensation study that showed their salary rates are below the average for the region. Therefore, these increases are part of a long-term plan to bring ACPS salaries in line with other divisions in the area.
Is this the last of the budget cuts or can we expect more?
City Manager Mark Jinks has said that a large degree of uncertainty remains as to whether the City’s revenue projections are too high and further reductions will be needed in FY 2021. If economic recovery is slower than projected, further reductions may also be needed for FY 2022. City staff will undertake a deep review of programs and priorities starting this summer to be ready to take action to reduce spending during FY 2021 or FY 2022 if needed. In addition state revenue items such as sales tax and lottery funding can be affected by continued closures, as well as school building rental revenue.
How will it impact the timeline and funding for the High School Project?
ACPS is already funded for this financial year for the design, engineering and related pre-construction services for The High School Project.
The construction funding for this project has been deferred until Fiscal Year 2023 - that is from July 2022 to June 2023. The High School Project team will continue to aim for the opening of the new building space in September 2024 and work through the process with the city on any partial funding needed to meet that schedule.