FCPS budget for next school year remains unsure
February 19, 2016
Six-period day, defunded programs, increased classroom sizes. All have been under discussion as possible solutions for budget cuts that may occur next year. Since the 2008 fiscal year, Fairfax County Public Schools have had to make budget reductions totaling around $500 million. The proposed budget for the 2017 fiscal year plans out a $2.7 billion operating budget, an increase from last year’s budget of $2.5 billion, with a key focus on employee salaries.
As the 10th largest school district in the country, a sustainable revenue must be maintained to finance the expenditure needs and responsibilities of the school system. With over a $1 billion decrease in funding annually, $3665 dollars were spent per pupil in 2015, as compared to the $4275 spent in 2009.
Superintendent Karen Garza hopes for the 2017 fiscal year budget to be the first in years to not have any cuts. Her proposal is that the Board of Supervisors fund the full proposed budget.
In its currently advertised budget, the Board of Supervisor’s proposed increases by 3 percent, not the proposed 6.7 percent. This difference in funding will result in a deficit of $68 million. Fairfax County residents will have to pay 3 cents more in real estate tax to fund what the board currently proposes.
“We have cut over $160 million over the past few years,” social studies and economics teacher Richard Hoppock said. “Any amount beyond that will have a detrimental effect on what we can offer to students. I have absolutely no idea what specifically would be cut as there is no public plan.”
A multi-year strategy is being developed to meet the demands of competitive compensation for all employees. The board will compare the salaries and benefits of employees from surrounding districts and will recommend compensation models that work towards recruiting, retaining and rewarding employees with exceptional qualities. If the board decides to fund the budget, it will compensate for that by raising personal property tax.
Superintendent Karen Garza remains hopeful, however, and continues to stress that no substantial cuts in programs should be made.
“We will continue to educate our funding partners and our community on the critical need to invest in our schools,” Garza said in an email to the FCPS community, “and are hopeful that ultimately the Board of Supervisors will make the choice to support their community schools.”
Principal Dave Thomas stressed that it is up to teachers, students, counselors and every other employee in FCPS to spread the word about the board funding the budget. He suggests sending emails and writing to the Virginia state legislators.
“On Feb. 23 Garza will be at South County to discuss the budget,” principal Dave Thomas said. “Be there in your purple and gold to show your support.”
The Board will vote on the budget sometime in April, until that happens nothing can be said about what students and teachers can expect next year.