Charlottesville City School Board is short on its fiscal year 2025 budget.

The City of Charlottesville — the biggest contributor to City Schools budget — passed its fiscal year 2024-2025 budget, and allocated a total of $74 million to City Schools. That's $7 million more than the city allocated last year. But City Schools said it's not enough.

City Schools asked for an additional $9 million for a slew of new positions, projects and a few miscellaneous expenses.

“It's unfortunate that we're not going to have all the personnel we're going to need to meet our students' needs,” said Chris Meyer, a Charlottesville City School Board member, at a May 2 meeting.

City Schools' overall budget, which was $106.8 million in 2024, is funded by state and federal money, and special revenue — such as tuition from Charlottesville Albemarle Technical Educational Center — but the majority of its budget comes from the city.

The city contributed $67 million to City Schools' overall budget for 2024.

For the 2025 budget, Charlottesville City School Board went back and forth on how much it wanted from the City. At the start of budget season, City Schools wanted to ask for an additional $12 million. City Schools then considered asking for $6 million before eventually upping that request to $9 million.

The City agreed to give an additional $7 million, which brings its total contribution to $74 million. City Schools' current amended budget for 2025 is about $118.8 million.

That was the best the city could do, said Mayor Juandiego Wade.

“We gave as much as we could without raising taxes even more and balancing the other priorities,” he said to Dexter Auction. “It was a very difficult decision and the Council had a lot of discussions among the Council and the School Board.”

The $7 million increase for City Schools is one of the many large expenses the city plans to make in 2025. The city's amended budget now includes salary increases for all city employees, renovations for Buford Middle School and Walker Upper Elementary School, collective bargaining efforts and affordable housing commitments, said City Councilor Michael Payne.

Getting an additional $7 million, instead of the requested $9 million, from the city doesn't create as big of a gap as it seems. The state's projected contribution to City Schools' budget went up by $1.4 million in early March, according to the budget presentation at the May 2 meeting. That leaves the gap at $628,000.

But that could also change, according to Renee Hoover, director of finance for City Schools. The General Assembly met for a special session and updated the state budget on Monday. The updated state budget includes increased funding to K-12 schools, but as of Wednesday morning the amount City Schools will receive had not been released by the General Assembly.

We “hope the state budget once passed would provide additional resources to schools,” said Payne.

Besides that, CCS could also get some additional money from the city's personal property taxes and real estate taxes. If the revenue the city pulls from those two taxes increases from one year to the next, the city will give the school district 40% of that increase, according to the Feb. 1 City School's budget presentation. It doesn't always happen, but since 2015, increases in funds have ranged from $1.6 million to $4.2 million. And this year, the city increased those tax rates, which means that more money is likely.

City Schools also received less money than it hoped from other funding sources. Every two years, localities are given a local composite index (LCI) score, according to Beth Cheuk, spokesperson for City Schools. The score determines how much the city is able to contribute to its public schools. The higher the score, the less the state contributes to the locality and subsequently the school division. Charlottesville's score went up in 2024, meaning City Schools will receive $1.1 million less in state funding.

City Schools will also get less funding from other revenues — such as grocery sales taxes and remaining COVID-19 funds — which adds up to $2.9 million loss in revenue, according to a February budget presentation from City Schools. The additional revenues ended, Superintendent Royal Gurley said at a Feb. 1 meeting. Unlike LCI-generated funds, the others were created or implemented to assist with school funding for a short period of time.

The $9 million request to the city was to fund 21 new positions and some miscellaneous expenses, including:

  • One care and safety assistant;
  • One special education instructional assistant at Charlottesville Albemarle Technical Education Center (CATEC);
  • Six reading and math specialists and interventionists;
  • Six site based substitute teachers;
  • Seven teachers;
  • Funding for the Knight School;
  • And money for other expenditures such as collective bargaining relations, stipend increases for special education instructional assistants software and increased tuition reimbursements.

City Schools will still pursue many of the items — such as site-based substitutes and English as a Second Language teachers — without increasing its budget. The school division does this a number of ways. It will either decrease the overall expense of a single item, shift specific matters to other expenditure budgets (such as the prevention and intervention fund) or use funds from its fund balance, or a savings account-esque pool of money City Schools can use for one-time expenses.

By doing all of that, City Schools shaved off more than $1 million of its budget.

If City Schools can't make up the $628,316 deficit, it won't fund a reading and a math specialist for Walker, a math interventionist for Buford and a site-based substitute for Charlottesville High School.

“We had to make some tough decisions,” said Lisa Larson-Torres, chair of the Charlottesville City School Board. “It makes me sad that some of these schools couldn't get the support they needed for their students. We need every support person, and these weren't frivolous asks, these were based on what our students need.”

I'm Dexter Auction's education and families reporter. Reach out to me by email or on Twitter. Also, subscribe to our newsletter! C’mon, it’s free.