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New City Manager says he’s excited to work with superintendent, will present budget next month

Just hours before a Joint City Council/School Board Subcommittee meeting, new Alexandria City Manager Jim Parajon spoke with Alexandria City Public Schools Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr.

Parajon, who started work earlier this month, said it was a great conversation and that he looked forward to working collaboratively with Hutchings, who wants a 2.6% salary step increase and a 2.5% market rate adjustment for all eligible ACPS employees in the upcoming fiscal year 2023 budget.

“I got a chance to talk to the superintendent this afternoon. Dr. Hutchins, we had a great conversation,” Parajon said. “I’m so excited about the opportunity to work collaboratively with him and looking forward to a great partnership with the school district.”

“I have received the budget request from the school district, both operating and capital,” Parajon told the subcommittee, which is comprised of Mayor Justin Wilson, Councilman John Taylor Chapman, School Board Chair Meagan Alderton and Vice Chair Jacinta Greene. “I appreciate the efforts, because put together it’s comprehensive and I’m sure I’ll have a few questions as we go forward, but I know staff has been interacting with school district staff quite a bit and (the City will) be ready to present a recommended budget to you in February.”

Hutchings’ $346 million fiscal year 2022 Combined Funds Budget asks for approximately $248.7 million from the city — a $9.3 million increase in the city’s annual appropriation over last year. The City Council ultimately provides ACPS with 80% of its operating fund, and the school system is banking on the hope that the city will endorse former Governor Ralph Northam’s proposal to raise teacher pay by 10.25% across the state.

The school system is not alone in wanting raises for staff, as the Alexandria Fire Department and Police Department are also struggling with retention. Parajon will present his proposed budget on February 15, and City Council will conduct work sessions and other public meetings in the lead up to the budget passage in early May.