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School Board receives NPS budget outlook

Superintendent Dr. Samuel T. King and Chief Financial Officer Dr. Michael Thornton provided the School Board with a budget update on Tuesday, February 5, as Dr. King prepares to present the Board with his full, proposed NPS Operating Budget for fiscal year 2014.

The budget gap Dr. King and his team must close is $18.7 million, which includes additional expenses such as health insurance premium increases for employees (estimated at $2.6 million)  and a proposed 2 percent salary increase for all staff (estimated at $4.6 million).

Drs. King and Thornton emphasized that a reduction of approximately 108 positions districtwide likely will be required to help close the gap, however the plan is to reduce those positions by attrition, which means by not filling vacancies. A number of those positions will come from Central Office.

Dr. King and his team also are working on reductions of non-personnel operating costs, and realignment of instructional staff to account for recent enrollment trends.

"These are not easy discussions," Dr. King said. "They are tough discussions, which will allow us to arrive at what you will see."

Dr. King is scheduled to present his proposed operating budget to the School Board on February 20, and the School Board will hold a public forum about the budget on March 5 at 7 p.m. at Crossroads School, 8021 Old Ocean View Road.

The School Board voted Tuesday evening, February 5, to allow the seven Board and Division Priorities for 2012-2013 to guide the budget planning. Those priorities are:

1. Ensure full accreditation
2. Increase academic achievement of all students
3. Improve climate, safety and attendance
4. Become a School Board of distinction
5. Promote Norfolk Public Schools to reflect outstanding accomplishments of staff, teachers and students
6. Develop and coordinate a capital improvement plan for facilities and technology to enhance teaching and learning
7. Attract, retain and help to develop strong academic families and highly qualified teachers and staff

The priorities align with five strategies that will take effect July 1, 2013, with NPS' new Strategic Plan:

1. We will promote NPS as the cornerstone of our community's well-being.
2. We will empower and facilitate meaningful family and community partnerships.
3. We will relentlessly pursue engaged learning through high-quality instruction.
4. We will host environments in which all individuals feel safe and secure.
5. We will nurture a culture of excellence, equity and justice through continuous improvement.

NPS is in the fifth year of budget reductions driven in large part by reductions in state funding totaling $27.3 million since fiscal year 2009, and by ongoing increases in fixed expenses such as health insurance premiums. Staff positions have been reduced by 695 full-time equivalents in that time.

"This damage has been cumulative over the past five years," said School Board Chairman Dr. Kirk T. Houston. "We have cut to the bone to try to keep these reductions as far away from the classrooms as possible."

The City of Norfolk's contribution to NPS' base budget has increased by $2.7 million since 2008-2009.

The City of Norfolk is hosting two budget community conversations. The first is Thursday, February 7th, 6:30-8 p.m., Huntersville Community Center, 830 Goff Street. The second is Thursday, February 21, 6:30-8 p.m., Mary D. Pretlow Anchor Branch Library, 111 W. Ocean View Avenue.

Norfolk Public Schools   
800 E. City Hall Ave.
Norfolk, Va 23510
2012-2013
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