County Board Slashes $50 Million+ from 2018 School Budget
The Fairfax County School Board has adopted the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) FY 2018 Approved Budget of $2.8 billion that includes reductions of more than $50 million. “This has been yet another difficult budget year, but we are pleased that we were able to make an investment in our top budget priority – teacher compensation,” said School Board Chair Sandy Evans.
To balance the budget, the School Board voted to increase the staffing ratio formula by 0.5 students per teacher, resulting in a reduction of 166.7 positions ($14.7 million). The School Board also voted to eliminate the market scale adjustment for nonteacher scale employees ($7.9 million), to delay implementation of the nonteacher salary scales ($5.0 million), and to extend the teacher scale implementation from four years to five years ($6.6 million). Additionally, the School Board also approved plan benefit modifications to ERFC (Educational Employees’ Supplementary Retirement System of Fairfax County) impacting members hired on or after July 1, 2017 ($2.3 million).
The Board also reduced central office support to schools ($3.1 million and 19.5 positions) and funds for school instructional materials ($2.4 million), deferred full implementation of an assessment tool ($1.0 million), and reduced professional development funds ($0.5 million).
The Board also approved a redesign of the Transitional ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) High School program ($1.4 million), reducing the number of contracted teacher positions by 23.7. The elementary staffing formula floor was increased from 17 to 18 ($1.0 million) and a reduction of 11.2 positions.
Further, the Board voted to institute a one-time $50 high school extracurricular activity fee per school year raising $1.7 million, pupil placement application fees raising $0.5 million, and approved Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) test fees for any tests taken that exceed six, raising $0.6 million.
Required expenditure increases include retirement and health insurance and $12.7 million to address enrollment growth and demographic changes. The FY 2018 budget has a beginning balance of $33.5 million and includes an increase in the County transfer to the School Operating Fund of 2.79 percent above the FY 2017 Approved Budget as well as an increase of $25.1 million in state aid and sales tax. The FY 2018 Approved Budget takes effect July 1. Additional budget details are available click here.
FCPS budget continues to be underfunded
On May 2, The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors (BoS) adopted its FY2018 budget plan, FY2018 tax rates, and general budget transfer to Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), effective July 1. The real estate tax rate will remain at $1.13 per $100 of assessed value. The BoS approved a total general budget transfer of $2.17 billion to FCPS, an increase of 2.79 percent (about $52 million) over FY2017. FCPS funding will represent 52.8 percent of the County's overall general fund budget. Unfortunately, FCPS will still face a projected shortfall of $48.4 million that the Fairfax County School Board will have to address this month.
The School Board will present its FY 2018 Approved Budget as new business on May 11 and hold budget public hearings on May 16 (and May 17 as needed). FCCPTA urges parents, business leaders, concerned residents, and other interested stakeholders to testify before the School Board, submit written comments, or otherwise communicate with their local school board members via phone, email, and in-person visits. We must ensure that the School Board makes the right budgetary decisions for students, teachers, and families based on your priorities.
FCPS has a national reputation that attracts businesses to the County which provide good-paying jobs. Many of these businesses support the school system or support individual schools in specific communities. The budget shortfall this coming school year may have an adverse domino effect that could impact the economic viability of the County. FCPS is an economic driver for the County and the rest of the Commonwealth as the largest employer in the County and 3rd largest in Virginia. It is critical that the FY 2018 cuts be balanced, to minimize severe damage to any one aspect of the school system.
Make no mistake that FCCPTA fights for the education, health, and safety for every child in Fairfax County. FCCPTA supports full funding of the County's world-class education system because the future of Fairfax County depends on its students being ready for the global economy. There is a reason why all of Fairfax County's high schools are on the Washington Post's 2017 list of top high schools in the nation. It is called INVESTMENT IN WHAT WORKS, which includes great teachers, high-quality education programs, technology, keeping class sizes low, and providing supports for students with special needs, gifted students, low-income students, students with English as a second language, and so many others. The cuts this coming school year will be felt for many years to come.
We need you! We need your voice! Stand with us by communicating with your local school board member to urge him/her to do what is best for students, teachers, and families.
Thank you for your voice and advocacy!