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2018-01-17 / Front Page

Superintendent’s budget includes new schools, custodial workers

Proposal also includes 2 percent raises for school employees
BY RICH GRISET STAFF WRITER

Superintendent James LaneSuperintendent James LaneOn Tuesday, Chesterfield County Public Schools Superintendent James Lane unveiled the school system’s $647.4 million budget proposal for fiscal year 2019, including a 2 percent salary increase for all eligible school system employees, $7.7 million to insource custodial services, and plans to build replacements for four existing elementary schools.

The budget includes an additional $25.5 million in state and local funds compared to last year, including $10.9 million in funding from the state and $8.3 million in local funds.

Previously, the school system had planned to renovate Crestwood, Harrowgate, Reams and Ettrick elementary schools. Lane’s budget proposal now includes plans to build entirely new buildings for those schools, which would open in 2021. So far, the plans are to build Reams, Crestwood and Ettrick on their current sites. The location of Harrowgate will depend on the planned construction of the East-West Freeway by the county. The schools are part of a $304 million revitalization program approved in 2013 by voters.

Lane’s budget includes $8.1 million for a 2 percent salary increase for eligible employees, $3.7 million for increased health care costs and $500,000 in an additional payment toward the school system’s underfunded supplemental retirement plan.

Following years of outsourcing the school system’s custodial work – outsourcing began for some schools in 2014 – Lane’s proposal includes $7.7 million to once again insource day porters and bring in third-party vendors for extensive cleanings at night. While the previous decision to outsource custodial work saved the school system money, custodial vendors didn’t deliver the level of cleanliness the School Board had hoped for. The proposed custodial plan has funding for 165 full-time employees, including day porter positions and four managers.

The budget also fully funds the school system’s plan to change school start times for the 2018-19 school year. Last February, the School Board approved a new schedule that will start high schools at 8:30 a.m. and middle schools at 7:35 a.m. There will be three tiers of elementary school start times: 7:45 a.m., 8:30 a.m. and 9:25 a.m.

The plan would reallocate funding for 50 unfilled substitute school bus driver positions toward 30 new full-time positions. Approved by the School Board last year, the $4.1 million in startup funding for the initiative is expected to come from funds previously saved in fiscal year 2016. A quarter million in funding is also included to cover bus fleet replacement.

The budget also includes funding to help target issues of equity, including $151,300 toward identifying gifted students and $130,000 for expanding student growth measures. Projected enrollment for fiscal year 2019 is 60,880 students.

The School Board is expected to vote on the budget on Feb. 12. It will then go before the Board of Supervisors for approval on March 28. 

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