HENRICO, Va. (WRIC) — In a first glimpse at Henrico Superintendent Dr. Amy Cashwell’s school budget, county residents got a look at the priorities in the school division’s $780 million roadmap.

Among the new initiatives is a further reduction in student fees, expansion of specialty center programming, HVAC investments and initiatives to combat the ongoing teacher shortage.

The general fund, which covers most of the division’s spending except food services, ongoing debts and grant funded programs, is expected to increase by about $16 million, a rise of about 2.6%. The vast majority of that money is spent on instruction, including teacher’s salaries.

Among those costs are five new English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers, who will join five added last year to help serve Henrico’s growing population of ESL learners.

The presentation also highlighted “targeted elimination of some student fees, including PE uniforms and some dual enrollment courses.”

That move was praised by Fairfield board member Roscoe Cooper, who said “I’m always a strong advocate for reducing and eliminating any financial burdens to our students and families”

As Dr. Cashwell pointed out, there was one important thing missing from her budget proposal: information on teachers’ salaries.

“Of course, it does not yet include any funding for potential salary increases for school employees, which are absolutely a priority,” she said. “But those are considered separately during the March county-wide budget process.”

The budget proposal will go up for a public hearing on Feb. 9, after which the school board will approve it on May 11. The county board of supervisors will have final say over school funding during its own budget process later this year.