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PWCS Superintendent Announces Increased Spending Plan for FY17

| February 3, 2016 | 0 Comments | Education
Photo by Ashleigh Henegar

Photo by Ashleigh Henegar

By Irene Cromer, Director of Community Relations for Prince William County Schools

Citing its benefits to the future of Prince William County and more than 88,000 students, PWCS Superintendent Steve Walts unveiled a proposed $1.08 billion spending plan, up 3.9% from current levels, to fund Virginia’s rapidly growing second-largest school division for the 2016-17 school year.

“I am confident that this proposed budget provides our new School Board and our community with a thoughtful plan for funding the educational needs, aspirations, and expectations of our community, Walts said.”

He evoked images of PWCS students before highlighting some of the proposed plan’s benefits that reflect longstanding School Board and administration priorities, including efforts to address unmet needs. Proposed funding includes:

  • Continuing investment in all existing educational programs and supporting services;
  • Adding more than 80 teaching and instructional positions to aid in further class size reductions;
  • Hiring one or more new counselors, library media specialists, psychologists, sign language interpreters, school nurses, teachers of the visually impaired, social workers, teachers of the hearing impaired, speech teachers, and teaching assistants to address pressing student needs;
  • Increasing staffing to support English language learners;
  • Providing a step pay plan increase averaging 2.8% for all employees;
  • Devoting an additional $1 million to improve services at schools with high proportions of economically disadvantaged students;
  • Restoring a modest amount of resources for gifted education programs;
  • Enabling the anticipated expansion of pre-kindergarten offerings and classrooms;
  • Investing in overdue technology improvements, enhancements, and innovations;
  • Continuing investments in new schools, school additions, renovations, maintenance, and support services.

The facilities investments are included in the proposed update to the ten-year PWCS Capital Improvements Program (CIP), as discussed at a School Board Work Session on January 13.

Financial details of the proposed budget itself were provided in a budget presentation by Associate Superintendent for Finance and Support Services Dave Cline.

Walts noted that the funding picture for PWCS has improved over previous years. Still, the schools face lasting effects of tight budgets, and funding that lagged behind the cost of enrollment growth and inflation for many years. As a result, PWCS spends less per student, and has larger class sizes and generally lower teacher pay, than other neighboring school divisions. Both the budget plan and challenges are summarized in a budget facts flyer provided at the Board meeting.

School Board Members will review the proposal and hear from community members (see meeting schedule), before providing input of their own. The School Board is slated to vote on a final budget and updated CIP on March 16.

County government funding needed to support the proposed budget is dictated by the Prince William Board of County Supervisors (BOCS). Tax rates that underwrite the budget, and related funding issues, will be addressed in a number of scheduled BOCS meetings leading up to the Supervisors’ required approval of the spending package passed by the School Board.

PWCS invites readers to provide their feedback on the PWCS Budget Comment Facebook Page.

© 2016, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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Category: Education

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