School board approves 2019-20 tentative budget
Members of the Fayette County Board of Education voted 4-1 on May 20 to approve a $579.9 million general fund budget that includes significant investments to ensure that a student’s demography does not determine his or her destiny. “Developing a school district budget goes beyond juggling numbers to balance revenue and expenses,” said Superintendent Manny Caulk. “The budget is a reflection of our community’s hopes, dreams, and values about the future, about our children, and the possibility of a better tomorrow. Our budget for 2019-20 invests in our children and our employees.”
The tentative budget is aligned to the district’s Strategic Plan and fully funds the turnaround plans that the school board approved in April for the seven elementary schools targeted by the state for Comprehensive Support and Improvement. Those investments include school-based instructional specialists to work alongside faculty and staff in each school as a true partner in the daily work, external support from district specialists and Cambridge Education, and additional staff to provide another set of hands for instruction and make finding time for planning and observations easier.
Five schools will provide Acceleration Learning Labs to extend the learning time for students who need it by offering evidence-based programs proven to boost student achievement after school. Two schools – Harrison and William Wells Brown elementaries – will pilot longer school days and a longer school year in a model dubbed “Promise Academies.” Staff in those buildings will commensurately be paid more than colleagues at schools with shorter instructional days.
In other details, changes to state pension requirements will increase the district’s employer match in the classified retirement system by $1.5 million. Rising utility fees are expected to cost an additional $1.3 million. The budget also includes $2.9 million to pay for raises for employees eligible for step increases based on education and years of service.
“These investments maintain Fayette County’s market competitiveness when compared with surrounding counties and municipalities,” Caulk said.
Highlights of other new investments include:
- Hiring more teachers to serve students with special needs, students whose home language is not English, and students who have been identified as gifted and talented. This is the fourth year of continued expansion of staffing in these critically important areas, bring the total to 45 more teachers working with children.
- Purchasing a comprehensive science curriculum for elementary and middle schools.
- Expanding the district’s partnership with the Fayette County Education Association to support staff through the New Teacher Induction program and to increase the number of Nationally Board Certified Teachers.
- Reinstating the summer paint crew.
- Adding costs for a 37th elementary school when Brenda Cowan Elementary School opens in the fall of 2019.
- Deepening the district’s work around culturally responsive teaching and learning with a focus on implicit bias.
- Growing mentoring programs and other proven strategies to support the success of boys of color previously supported by a grant from the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust.
- Continuing efforts to reimagine the district’s middle schools and transform its high schools in partnership with Commerce Lexington.
- Strengthening school climate culture by hiring additional Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) coaches to work specifically with middle and high schools to ensure consistent adoption and provide embedded professional learning and increasing the number of individuals trained in the restorative practices.
“I believe these are the right investments based on our Strategic Plan, based on the areas of improvement identified for our schools by the state for Comprehensive Support and Improvement, and based on where we want to go as a district,” Caulk said. “In Fayette County, excellence is the expectation and equity is at the heart of our work.”
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