FCPS Superintendent Presents $2.6 Billion Budget

by Karen Goff January 9, 2015 at 11:00 am 26 Comments

FCPS Superintendent Karen GarzaFairfax County Schools Superintendent Karen Garza presented a $2.6 billion budget to the school board on Thursday, saying the schools needed an increase of $64 million (2.6 percent) for Fiscal Year 2016.

Garza said the FY 2016 Proposed Budget addresses several significant rising costs such as growing enrollment and changing student demographics, as well as compensation increases for employees.

It also includes resources for full-day Mondays in the elementary schools, which were quickly implemented this school year without being fully funded, and the implementation of later high school start times, which will go into effect in 2015-16.

The budget will also address large elementary class sizes, a growing concern Garza heard on her recent principal’s listening tour stop in Reston.

“This is a realistic and practical budget that once again uses a shared approach of reducing expenditures and requesting additional revenue while protecting the classroom and programs for students,” Garza said in a statement.

“The FY 2016 Proposed Budget is not reflective of all the needs of the district. Recognizing the fiscal challenges we are currently facing now and in the future, we made a concerted effort to stay as close as possible to the budget guidance provided to us by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. We need a long-term strategy for funding our schools that is predictable and sustainable. Balancing each year’s budget on continued reductions is not sustainable and it will erode the quality of our school system.”

The FY 2016 Proposed Budget includes reductions of $55.4 million, which would be achieved through compensation base savings resulting from employee turnover; lower health insurance costs; reductions to centrally managed accounts including fuel, utilities, and employee benefits; and savings produced by last year’s system wide reorganization.

In 2015, the school system’s budget reductions totaled $97.8 million, which included the elimination of 723 positions. So far, no layoffs or eliminations are forecast for 2016.

Garza, who has been superintendent since 2013, said FCPS has taken historic reductions totaling nearly $435 million, including more than 2,175 positions since 2008. With the $55.4 million in reductions planned for FY 2016, total reductions since FY 2008 are now approaching $500 million.

FCPS will ask the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for an additional $70.6 million, or 3.99 percent, over FY 2015. That number takes into account the impact of the Governor’s budget proposal, which does not reduce K-12 funding.

The transfer request from the county is only $14 million, or 0.79 percent, above the guidance provided by the Board of Supervisors, which included a 3 percent transfer increase plus the cost associated with full-day Mondays. Nearly 72 percent of FCPS’ projected revenue is provided by the County, FCPS said.

FCPS anticipates receiving state aid of approximately $400 million, state sales tax of $182.3 million, federal aid of $42.2 million, and tuition payments from the City of Fairfax and other revenue of $62.9 million.

Some of the challenges facing FCPS:

Growth: FCPS is one of the largest school districts in the country. Since FY 2011, FCPS enrollment has grown by 13,171 students,  and is projected to be 188,104 for FY 2016. This enrollment growth, and the changing demographics associated with it (such as the need for additional English as a Second Language resources), will require an additional $18.6 million in FY 2016.

Compensation: The Proposed Budget includes $59.4 million for salary increases for FCPS employees, including a step increase for eligible employees and a 1 percent market scale adjustment for all employees.

When compared to nine other local school divisions, FCPS ranks fifth in starting teacher salaries, eighth in mid-career teacher salaries, and ninth in the maximum teacher salary.

“Our employees are our most valuable asset and compensation for our teachers is a priority in the FY 2016 Proposed Budget,” said Garza. “We are losing some of our best teachers and school administrators to neighboring school divisions because our salaries continue to lag behind. We must keep our outstanding employees for they are key to our past and future success.”

Per-pupil spending: Garza said that cost-cutting measures in recent years have allowed FCPS’s per-pupil spending to remain “in the middle when compared to other school districts in the metropolitan area.” However, the amount per pupil has increased just $464, or 3.5 percent, between FY 2009 and FY 2016. After adjusting for inflation, FCPS spending per pupil remains below the FY 2009 level.

There will be several chances for school board and citizen input on the budget, which go through many changes and compromises before being adopted by the school board in May.

The school board will hold public hearings on Jan. 26, and Jan. 27, (if needed) , as well as a work session on Jan. 29. The school board will present its budget to the Board of Supervisors April 7.

Photo: FCPS Superintendent Karen Garza/file photo

  • A Restonian

    Ms. Garza needs to (a) reduce the increase in her budget request by at least half (in line with inflation) and (b) absorb the $64MM salary increase.

    • Rational Reston

      Well that makes it easy. What do you suggest gets dropped to achieve these goals?

      • susie

        All the illegal immigrants

        • Rational Reston

          Well that makes it easy. How do you suggest we accomplish this?

          • susie

            Same way Prince William County did — enforce our immigration laws.

          • Rational Reston

            Well that makes it easy. How do you suggest we accomplish this?

            You seem to feel very passionately about this issue, so I assume you’ve thought the solutions through. Expressing details of such solutions would help bring solutions to the surface instead of letting problems stay in the dark.

          • susie

            Enforcing laws on the books is not complicated nor does it need to be brought out of the darkness..it just needs to be done. I see you have loads of time on your hands..but I have to get back to work — have a wonderful day

          • Rational Reston

            All that costs money. Who pays for that? Nothing is free. Thanks for ducking and dodging.

          • Dexter Scott

            It will come out of the same bag of magic pixie dust that will provide “free” community college.

        • Chuck Morningwood

          Here’s one way: make every parent registering their child for school present documentation of their (the parent’s) status. No child should be refused registration, but all parents/guardians must present that documentation.

          And, yes, I could prove my status. I have a US passport.

  • Dexter Scott

    A budget that is bigger than the GDP of the 30 poorest countries, and still the buses don’t start when it’s chilly outside…

  • guest

    How many wish Bo Jugular and Downer Scott would run off together full-time to paradise elsewhere?


      I surmise you are a county employee. And yes, I think Dex Scott is probably HAWT!

  • Adrian Havill

    Your hate sort of gives you away when you feel a need to call the wife of the President names.



      I make no secret of my intense hatred of all things OBAMA. He has ruined our country. There is a reason that even the mainstream liberal media refers to voters who supported Obama as “low information voters”. He is rallying his base by offering free community college to the winners who can manage to take 2 classes at community college and get a C. So say what you want about me. I don’t care.

      • Adrian Havill

        Your privilege. But it kinds of says who you are when you frequently lace your comments with profanity and ad hominem attacks with little or no documentation. Hatred of any kind will shorten your life but that’s a choice you’ve made. Sad.

        • Jerry

          Adrian, This is about the 100MM “shortfall” that Karen
          Garza is going on about to raise everyone’s taxes. Please spare us the self righteous piety that you are pretending to own.

          • Adrian Havill

            Gee, I thought this forum is open to all.



    • Jerry

      Well this is the same woman who wasn’t proud to be an Amercian until she was given a free mansion to live in.

  • Boggie

    Why not outsource education like we have with the roads? All this science and math is the devil’s work, kids are better of being in church, right?

    And speaking of illegal immigrant kiddies (as if their legal status determines how much taxes they pay), we’re better off if they are uneducated, disenfranchised by society, and subjected to violent religious fanaticism like those in France, right?

  • Karen Goff


    Karen Goff



    Mrs Obama’s regulations re: school lunches & vending machines in schools are causing millions of dollars to be lost. I guess you haven’t read the hundreds if not thousands of articles on this subject. So, it actually has a direct correlation to the local school budget. Same thing goes for all the illegal immigrants flooding our system as well as others across the nation. If you think that is petty, so be it. But I think you are a low info voter.

    • Adrian Havill

      Please don’t presume to know what I’ve read or haven’t read. When you use phrases like “low info voter” you are directly parroting Rush Limbaugh. As for “millions of dollars” lost in school lunches please provide a link to a reputable source. Pepsi machines in the cafeteria may be your idea of freedom but–speaking of millions–there are millions of Americans who applaud the efforts to provide children with healthier school lunches.

  • east297

    Why are Fairfax county taxpayers obligated to pay for school meals and daycare summer and winter for children of illegals? It is difficult to become a citizen and PAY taxes, but quite a few immigrants have accomplished this feat and are now proud citizens. It is equally unfair to them to have the burden of paying for illegals needs. Become a citizen or be deported!

    • susie

      As a former teacher, i know they are also getting social security for their anchor babies. I was forced by my admin to fill out paperwork for parents to obtain benefits for their special needs child. It is amazing how well they can


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