Superintendent Presents 2020-2021 Budget Recommendation
Recommendations focused on addressing learning loss caused by school closures
April 22, 2020 – The number one priority for Guilford County Schools next year is the recovery of lost learning time, according to the budget recommendation presented by Superintendent Sharon L. Contreras to the Guilford County Board of Education on Wednesday.
Support and resources for recovering lost learning time will be funded, in part, by the anticipated federal K-12 Emergency Relief Fund. The district is expected to get approximately $21 million in K-12 Emergency Relief Funds, which are included in the Superintendent’s budget recommendation. The district will also redirect existing state, local and federal resources as necessary to meet the needs of our students.
“The learning loss of the 2019-2020 school year will be the single greatest challenge educators across the country will face in the coming months and years. We must dedicate resources now to address the impact this loss is having on our students, particularly the most vulnerable,” said Contreras.
Pending board approval of the superintendent’s budget recommendations, the district plans to concentrate on five core priorities to mitigate and recover lost learning while also preparing for a future that likely includes a new blend of in-classroom and at-home instruction. These five priorities are:
- Extended learning time to help students recover lost knowledge and skills, and spur greater academic growth;
- Ensuring that students have laptops and tablets that support remote learning;
- Expanding access to connectivity for students and families;
- Diagnostic assessments to plan instruction and design appropriate interventions; and,
- Individualized academic support to remediate and accelerate learning.
New research by the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) estimates that students are expected to retain only 70% of this year’s reading gains and less than 50% of math skills learned this year as compared to a typical school year.
The additional funding would be used to extended learning time, access for students to technology and connectivity and appropriate diagnostic assessments to allow educators to see where their students stand academically.
“When schools re-open and students return to class, we need to quickly access where students are so they can tailor instruction accordingly,” said Contreras. “All students are going to need additional learning time and support, particularly our most underserved children.”
The total operating budget recommendation is more than $759 million, excluding enterprise and capital outlay funds. Of this, 59 percent comes from the state, 29 percent comes from the local Board of County Commissioners and 12 percent comes from federal funding sources. The district’s total proposed budget for 2020-2021 is $842.6 million when all funds are included.
Included in the recommendation is a request of $5.7 million from the Board of County Commissioners to address the legislative impacts of mandatory salary and benefit cost increases for GCS personnel and anticipated growth in charter school enrollment.
The proposal also includes an additional request of $1.6 million to sustain school bus driver salary increases in 2020-2021 provided by the county commissioners earlier this school year. Half of this request was funded by the Board of County Commissioners in January 2020. Additionally, the budget also included $20 million in capital outlay to address deferred maintenance.
Within the $20 million for the capital outlay fund there is a $9 million allotment for HVAC projects and more than $5 million set aside for roofing projects. There is also $2.5 million that will be used to address system-wide mechanical, electrical and plumbing needs in the district. The remaining money is for various capital needs across the district including safety and security, vehicles, roofing and site issues.
The Board will consider feedback on the proposed budget at their April 30 meeting. A vote is expected at the May 12 meeting. Per state law, the school board must submit its budget recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) by May 15.