HCPS continues to use federal American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief — or ESSER — funds to augment student learning through enrichment and focused support. Programs supported by ESSER funding help struggling students build on their existing knowledge and skills. The $78.32 million HCPS received in the third installment of ESSER money is being used strategically for remediation, tutoring and critical staffing to meet student needs and other initiatives. The comprehensive ESSER III spending plan approved by the School Board and Board of Supervisors in 2021 is updated as needed to reflect administrative amendments within the allocated funds.
I am pleased to share Henrico County Public Schools’ next steps for investing in our students, staff and facilities. In alignment with the division’s strategic plan, Destination 2025, the FY2024 Recommended Financial Plan reflects HCPS’s commitment to academic excellence, safety and wellness, and recruitment and retention of exemplary educators and staff.
Understanding that an economic recession is looming, division leadership is taking a conservative fiscal approach while providing innovative instructional programs, real-world experiences for students, and wrap-around services to support the whole child. This budget proposal includes a significant investment in instructional resources for our students, expanded programming in our ACE Centers, ongoing implementation of the division’s literacy initiative and growth of An Achievable Dream Certified Academy to include eighth-grade students.
On the operational side, you will see increased funding for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, diesel fuel costs, and support for much-needed enhancements to learning spaces. To plan for the expiration of one-time federal pandemic relief funds, we are incorporating resources previously supported through these federal grants into the general fund budget. This strategic move allows the division to support sustainability while maintaining a reserve of positions for future use.
The recommended general fund budget, totaling $618,468,202, reflects an increase of $15.8 million (2.6%) compared to the current year and invests in essential areas such as:
- Covering the majority of the cost of increasing group health care premiums through an increase in the employer’s share.
- Additional English as a Second Language instructional staffing (5 positions).
- Converting 20 Exceptional Education Instructional Assistants from temporary to full-time.
- Expansion of the Family Advocates program through the addition of 10 positions.
- Career Ladder second-year implementation funding to recognize advanced professional credentials and professional learning achievements.
- New and expanded ACE Center programming; and
- Achievable Dream Certified Academy 8th grade expansion.
Because the school division and county have a unified pay plan, HCPS employee raises are considered as part of the municipal budget development. The goal, however, is to provide much-deserved compensation increases for all HCPS staff to reflect the expertise and professionalism of the incomparable HCPS workforce.
This Recommended Annual Financial Plan will be presented to the School Board on January 26, 2023, followed by a series of public discussions and potential revisions by the School Board before it is approved later this spring. The County Board of Supervisors will adopt the school funding plan as part of the larger municipal budget.
I want to express my appreciation to school division staff as well as County Manager John Vithoulkas and his staff for their assistance in developing this plan. Together, we will continue to invest in programs that foster innovation and support life-ready learners, workers and citizens.
Amy E. Cashwell, Ed. D.
Superintendent of Schools