Fredericksburg City Schools proposed FY 2025 budget includes $4.66 million gap

by | Mar 1, 2024 | ALLFFP, Fredericksburg, Schools & Education

Fredericksburg City Schools’ proposed budget for fiscal year 2025 includes a total funding gap of $4.66 million, according to a presentation from Chief Financial Officer Jennifer Brody during Thursday’s special school board meeting.  

The gap represents a $2.31 million increase in expenditures coupled with $2.35 million less in projected revenue compared to FY 2024, Brody said.  

Nearly $1.5 million of the projected loss in revenue is due to an increase in the city’s Local Composite Index (LCI) score. The LCI is the state’s measure of a locality’s ability to fund public education itself, Brody explained. Fredericksburg’s score rose 3.55 points, from .5808 in 2022 to .6163 in 2024, making it the 19th-highest score in the state.

LCI is determined by five weighted factors, Brody said, with a 4.3% decrease in Average Daily Membership (ADM) proving the most detrimental to city schools’ budget due to its weighting in the LCI formula.  

“This results in a state formula that does not fund the needs of our students,” Brody said.  

Brody outlined two spending priorities for the proposed budget: staffing and special education.  

Unfunded needs include a 3% increase in salary for teachers and certificated staff, as well as a 2% increase for other staff. The proposed budget also allows for a 7.3% increase in health insurance premiums for employees.  

To bolster special education, the budget calls for adding behavior diagnostician and behavior specialist positions, as well as stipends for staff in adaptive classrooms. The school division will also purchase DocuSign, a software service that will enable educators to “easily send, sign and manage all your contracts in one place,” according to its website. 

Brody said that the school division plans to monitor budget developments in the state legislature as it seeks to bridge the funding gap in the coming weeks.

“Based on what we’ve heard from the General Assembly so far, I’m confident there will be more funds for public education,” Brody said.  

The school division will also emphasize its needs as it holds “substantive conversations” with city council and city leaders during budget season, Brody said.  

Superintendent Marci Catlett mentioned the governor’s proposed budget, the “fiscal cliff,” and the expiration of ESSER grants (which expire this September) as challenges facing the school division in crafting this year’s budget.  

“I have proposed a budget that focuses on efficiency in times of increased student needs and greatly reduced funding,” Catlett said.  

Between Fall 2022 to Fall 2023, the district has seen a 23.4% increase in the number of students with disabilities, a 4.8% increase in economically disadvantaged students and an 8.5% increase in English language learners. Overall enrollment remained stable over the same period, Brody said.

School board member Matt Rowe said he appreciates the “honesty” of Catlett’s proposed budget as it pertains to specifying unfunded needs.  

“Even though you have different definitions of what success is, it covers all of that,” Rowe said. “I feel like this particular budget goes a long way to covering all those bases… I’m hard-pressed to find one [unfunded need] listed that isn’t critical in one way or another.” 

The school board will hold a public hearing on March 4 at which time it will seek approval of the proposed budget. On April 2, the school board and city council will hold a joint work session to discuss the budget. The budget will be officially adopted at the June 3 school board meeting.  

Subscribe To Daily News Updates

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news from The Free Press

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Share This