Hanover County Public Schools employees would receive a 3 percent raise under a proposal unveiled Tuesday by Superintendent Michael Gill.
The superintendent’s proposed 2019-20 school year operating budget totals $194.7 million, with 4 in 5 dollars going toward instruction. Gill’s presentation to the county School Board also included a capital improvement plan totaling more than $78 million over five years.
“This budget is truly reflective of where our priorities are and where they should be,” said Gill, who added that the budget was crafted with equity in mind.
“Not every building has the same needs. Not every classroom has the same needs. Not every learner has the same needs,” he said. “We have to be responsive in our budget to equity.”
The $194.7 million proposed operating budget represents a 5.1 percent increase over the current school year’s $185.3 million budget. The School Board did not discuss or ask questions about the proposal Tuesday night.
The salary raise is the highlight of Gill’s budget, but it is contingent on state funding.
Gov. Ralph Northam is proposing a 5 percent raise for teachers, something Gill told the board the district was “pleasantly surprised” to see. Lawmakers, who already passed a 3 percent raise for next fiscal year, are currently debating whether to fund the governor’s proposal.
The county school system gave teachers a 2 percent raise last year, and the 3 percent salary increase proposed by Gill means the district would meet the state’s match for the 5 percent raise.
“This does constitute a significant investment locally,” Gill said.
Alongside the 3 percent raise, Gill is proposing a change to the district’s teacher pay plan.
The plan would make it so there’s at least a $200 difference in pay scale steps, leading to about 1 in 3 teachers getting a pay raise of more than 3 percent if the entire proposal is adopted.
“We absolutely, unequivocally, have to take care of our teachers,” Gill told the School Board’s finance committee last week. “This is an opportunity to do that.”
Gill’s proposal also includes the following new positions: Three school counselors; a behavioral specialist; two behavioral support instructional assistants; an early childhood special education teacher; an Infants and Toddlers Program assistant; two clinic assistants; an autism resource teacher; and an extensive autism teacher.
More Hanover students would learn technology at a regional school under Gill’s plan. The county would send eight more students — for a total of 24 — to CodeRVA, a regional magnet school in Richmond that focuses on computer science. A total of 13 localities send students to the school.
Gill’s proposal also calls for the elimination of the lacrosse athletic fee, something families have to pay to participate in the growing sport. Lacrosse is the only sport in the county for which parents have to “pay for play.”
The five-year capital plan includes a new elementary school that would be built alongside the consolidation of Henry Clay and John M. Gandy elementary schools. It also forecasts paying for land in the eastern part of the county for a new middle or high school.
The budget will have to be approved by the School Board and the Board of Supervisors. The School Board is scheduled to vote on the budget Feb. 12.
A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Jan. 22 in the School Board Room at 200 Berkley St. in Ashland.