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APS Class Sizes Will Increase by One in the Fall

A new Arlington Public Schools budget passed late last week will increase class sizes by one student at all grade levels, starting in the fall.

The $670 million budget largely follows Interim Superintendent Cintia Johnson’s revised budget proposal, which included $54 million in cuts to her original budget, due to a projected downturn in revenue attributable to the pandemic.

The School Board voted to nix about $3 million in cuts, eliminating a proposed staff furlough day, adding back a few administrative positions, and restoring crew and band transportation, among other things.

More from an APS press release:

At its May 7 meeting, the School Board unanimously approved its Fiscal Year 2021 Arlington Public Schools (APS) Budget to fund operations for the 2020-21 school year. The FY 2021 budget totals $670,274,629.

The School Board’s FY 2021 budget requires an on-going County Transfer of $524,628,986, a beginning balance or carry forward of $3,500,000, and funding from Reserves of $16,476,194.  The School Board previously restored several items that were listed as reductions in the Interim Superintendent’s Revised Proposed Budget when they adopted their FY 2021 Proposed Budget on April 23.

These changes, totaling $3,047,119, include:

  • Eliminating a one-day furlough for all staff, resulting in no furlough days for staff during FY21
  • Restoring crew transportation;
  • Restoring the Adobe Creative Suite license renewal (for Career and Technical Education (CTE) students as well as staff use);
  • Restoring band transportation;
  • Restoring Humanities Project funding;
  • Restoring half of the proposed cut for the non-renewal Communities in Schools contract;
  • Restoring the 3.4 Attendance Specialist positions; and
  • Restoring the 1.0 administrative assistant for the Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Office.

“From the start, this has been a difficult budget year and has become even more so because of the current economic crisis created by the coronavirus pandemic,” said School Board Chair Tannia Talento. “This budget balances a revised gap of $53 million with increased class sizes of one student at every level, budget cuts to our operating budget, and cuts to baseline additions that were meant to support our growth. We worked hard to prioritize restoring some items that directly support our teachers and staff, items that sustain funding for after-school activities and other student services, and items that continue our focus and commitment to eliminating opportunity gaps.”

During budget deliberation, the Interim Superintendent shared that APS will work with the vendor to ensure Smart Notebook access for teachers for the FY 2021 budget.  In addition, the School Board directed the Interim Superintendent to establish user fees to recover operations and maintenance costs for community use of APS-owned aquatics facilities, increasing user fees by 5% for FY 2021, and continue to discount and reduce user fees according to current practice.

The Board also directed the Superintendent to prepare a fee bracket structure similar to that for the Montessori program for Extended Day fees that would take effect in FY 2022.

APS also recently announced that it would be adding two new grab-and-go meal distribution sites to its existing seven, starting this past Monday: Glebe Elementary (1770 N. Glebe Road) and Barcroft Elementary (625 S. Wakefield Street).

File photo

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