Chesterfield superintendent proposes budget plan with large teacher pay raise as enrollment grows

Chesterfield County

The proposed budget would fund staffing to support the student enrollment growth, including 112 new teaching positions and a school nurse at every school. It would also fund the largest teacher pay increase in nearly a decade.

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Chesterfield County Schools Superintendent Dr. Mervin Daugherty is asking for a big increase in the school budget for the 2020-2021 school year.

Daugherty is proposing an operating budget of $777.3 million, which includes an increase of $99.9 million. He says the budget is needs-based, not a wish list.

“It’s always going to be larger than the money you’re going to receive. So I felt not only obligated by the law but morally and ethically to, here are our needs,” said Daugherty.

Chesterfield County Public Schools estimates there will be 1,200 new students entering the school system every year for the next several years.

“Chesterfield is growing rapidly. We’re growing one school a year when you think about it,” Daugherty said. “As you keep growing, you have to look at, one, the hiring of additional staff.”

The proposed budget would fund staffing to support the student enrollment growth, including 112 new teaching positions and a school nurse at every school. It would also fund the largest teacher pay increase in nearly a decade. The average teacher salary would jump from $52,330 to $57,344.

Bus drivers would receive a pay increase, too, of 75 cents per hour under the proposed budget. The budget would allow schools to spend more money on resources as well.

“We are, for the first time in our school district, a majority minority school district, so we have more students in poverty, we have more students who come to us with a second language,” Daugherty told 8News.

Daugherty acknowledged cuts will need to be made and the entire budget will likely not be approved.

“We know there’s only so much money to go around, we know that. We know that if I ask for 99 million, I’m not getting 99 million. The issue we have is, we want people to know our needs,” Daugherty said.

The school district expects about $30 million in new funding from the state, $24 million in new funding from the local government, plus about $6 million in carryover funds. This leaves a gap of about $40 million between the superintendent’s proposed budget increase and the projected funding the schools will receive.

“We don’t believe that there needs to be a tax increase with the requests that we have. We just think that there needs to be a closer look at what we’re asking for,” said Daugherty.

The school district says Chesterfield County has the capacity to increase local funding toward schools this year based on revenue growth in real estate collections. The school division lost about $4 million in state funding because the county is assessed as wealthier now than in years passed.

Daugherty hopes this budget proposal will open conversation about the needs of Chesterfield schools.

“It will allow our new school board members to have a better understanding of the needs we have so not only are we discussing them this year, but for the next several years we are discussing the budget needs that we have,” he said.

There will be several community meetings over the next few weeks to discuss the superintendent’s proposed budget. It will then head to the Chesterfield County School Board and the Board of Supervisors for approval.

LIST: Where and when community meetings will take place:

  • Jan. 27 from 6:30-8 p.m.: Dale District meeting at Bird High School,  located at 10301 Courthouse Road 
  • Jan. 29 from 6:30-8 p.m.: Clover Hill District meeting at Clover Hill High School,  located at 13301 Kelly Green Lane 
  • Jan. 30 from 6:30-8 p.m.: Bermuda District meeting at Thomas Dale High School,  located at 3626 W. Hundred Road 
  • Feb. 3 from 6:30-8 p.m.: Matoaca District meeting at Cosby High School,  located at 14300 Fox Club Parkway 
  • Feb. 5 from 6:30-8 p.m.: Matoaca District meeting at Matoaca High School,  located at 17700 Longhouse Lane 
  • Feb. 6 from 6:30-8 p.m.: Midlothian District meeting at Davis Elementary School,  located at 415 S. Providence Road 
  • Feb. 10 from 6:30-8 p.m.: Midlothian District meeting at Midlothian Middle School,  located at 13501 Midlothian Turnpike

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