FCPS Superintendent: Supervisors ‘Unconcerned’ About Schools

FCPS Superintendent Karen GarzaFairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Karen Garza calls the approval of the Fairfax County 2016 Budget “disheartening.”

The county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday passed the $3.8 billion Fiscal Year 2016 budget.

Real estate taxes for Fairfax County residents remain unchanged, at $1.09 per $100 of assessed value.

The Supervisors (who passed the budget with a 7-3 vote) approved a $2 billion transfer for Fairfax County Public Schools. That is a $66.7 million increase over this year’s school transfer from the county but still about $14 million short of what FCPS says it needs for programs and teacher raises.

Garza minced no words in reacting to the budget news.

“Supervisors are sending a clear message that they are unconcerned about the increasing challenges of our students, our teachers, and our schools,” she said in a statement. “The supervisors refused to fully fund our budget for the 2015-16 school year (FY 2016), when faced with a nominal $7.6 million deficit. We have grave concerns as to what will happen in the 2016-17 (FY 2017) school year when we face a devastating shortfall of more than $100 million.”

“The entire Fairfax County community has a critical decision to make: either we invest the necessary funds in our students and schools, or we will have to work together to decide what to cut – and we cannot cut our way to excellence.”

Garza said that growing enrollment combined with budget cuts will force the school system to “take a serious look at the programs that we must cut starting in the 2016-17 school year.”

Garza predicts a $100 million budget shortfall for the schools in 2017.

“These cuts will likely affect all current academic programming including limiting elective choices, reducing career and technical programs, impacting advanced offerings, and again raising class sizes at all levels,” she said, adding that those decisions will come as soon as December 2015.

Added Garza: “Since 2008, we have cut 2,175 positions and nearly a half-billion dollars from our budget affecting every school and department. We have fallen so far behind in teacher salaries that we are no longer competitive and are losing talented staff to neighboring school districts. Our teachers are the reason FCPS students excel and achieve.  Losing our most experienced teachers will have a significant effect on student performance and will ultimately affect the reputation of FCPS.

The school board will adopt its 2016 budget on May 21.

Karen Garza/file photo

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