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FCPS Superintendent: Supervisors ‘Unconcerned’ About Schools

by Karen Goff April 29, 2015 at 1:00 pm 1,000 46 Comments

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

  • Rodney Dangerfield

    It is shameful that we are one of the most wealthy counties in the United States, and in the region, but to be paying our teachers near the middle to bottom of even our regional peers …

    • TimB

      This!

    • Ming the Merciless

      And the evidence that our kids are doing worse than their regional peers is… nonexistent!

    • schmoe

      Bit of a sleight of hand in your comment.

      “we are one of the most wealthy counties in the United States”

      but then later

      “to be paying our teachers near the middle to bottom of even our regional peers”

      You start off with a nationwide comparison and then slip to a regional comparison.

      • Rodney Dangerfield

        There is no sleight of hand; I said in the U.S. AND regionally.

  • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

    Get rid of illegal immigrants. Problem solved.

    • TimB

      Get rid of trolls. Problem solved.

    • davidcavalieri

      Is that really, “problem solved?” How much money is the county spending on illegal immigrants in the school system?

      • Ming the Merciless

        Probably more than the $14 million Garza is moaning about.

        • davidcavalieri

          “Probably” isn’t a number. We’re also making the false assumption that illegals don’t pay taxes. It’s estimated that illegal immigrants paid $10.6 billion to state and local taxes in 2010.

          http://money.cnn.com/2014/11/20/news/economy/immigration-myths/

          • Chuck Morningwood

            How does it matter how much taxes they paid? They’re still ILLEGAL and, therefore, entitled to nothing.

          • davidcavalieri

            The comment was made that getting rid of illegals would solve the budget shortfall for FCPS as they are running up the bill. I’m giving evidence stating that the assumption is not necessarily true.

            Entitlement of illegals is completely different issue and irrelevant to the point made.

          • Greg

            No you are not. You are giving evidence of using passive voice.

          • Ming the Merciless

            They are a net drain on the public purse, there is no doubt about that.

          • davidcavalieri

            I completely agree — and that’s where the whole argument for citizenship comes into play.

          • Ming the Merciless

            They will still be a drain on the public purse even if we make them citizens. Perhaps even more of a drain, since as citizens they could vote for more gimmedats.

          • Rodney Dangerfield

            I have to side with Bo and Ming on this one. Illegals do not pay ANY County Property Taxes or State Income Taxes, which are the source of the Lion’s Share of the funding for the FCPS budget. Sales taxes don’t cover the cost of their illegal existence or presence, and rewarding lawlessness with amnesty is fundamentally wrong.

          • Mike M

            By this logic, if we stop enforcing the law, law enforcement becomes cheaper.

          • Greg

            “it is estimated.” By whom? Estimates, especially old ones, are “probably” wrong.

            Illegal is illegal. No one should be paying to educate them.

      • Mike M

        It is a very good question, David. Why should it not be asked? Do you know the answer? Does the county deign to account for such things? I think they should and I’ll bet they don’t. Got any idea why?

      • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

        It is common knowledge that the ESOL program is the most rapidly growing segment in our schools. Expanding this program is a huge money drain on the system.

    • Sunshine

      The illegal immigrants are great for business owners that need low wage workers. Also, good for our local economy where you have more people buying goods, paying rent, etc. The problem is, they are a drain on our school system and other services. FCPS has a needs based staffing formula where illegal immigrant students are counted more than other students therefore their class sizes are much smaller than schools with a small percentage of illegal immigrants. Schools with high percentage of illegal immigrants, the class sizes are under 20 students while at other schools they can be over 30 students — a big different. I feel like FCPS is rolling out the red carpet for these families. We wonder why more illegal immigrants are coming to the area — it is a great deal. These students do need more support to succeed in school based on the FCPS’s standards so small class sizes help but it is not fair that everyone else has to suffer with large class sizes.

  • Ming the Merciless

    The county gave the school system TWO BILLION DOLLARS. That’s BILLION, with a B. And they are complaining about being $14 MILLION short. Fourteen million is 0.7 percent of two billion. So in their world, being LESS THAN ONE PERCENT short of their goal is a “devastating shortfall” reflecting the county’s “unconcern”. Geez, hyperbole much?

    Karen Garza: SHUT UP, SHUT UP, SHUT UP.

    • Mike M

      A most shrewd debating tactic, Master Ming.

      I think it’s a good question to ask what the devil they did with their $2 billion. But every new housing development the County approves, results in more requirements for the schools. In an intelligently managed, and honestly served county new developments would generally pay their way.

      • Ming the Merciless

        Every new housing development brings in more taxpayers who pay property taxes that are used for schools. So there you go.

        • Rodney Dangerfield

          But they are short of being able to give fair raises to the teachers, and although I didn’t think it was the case, FCPS has a lower ratio of “management” staff than all of the other school systems in the area … so while some are calling $14 MM a rounding error, it is also a rounding error from the County’s budget side to do the right thing.

          • Ming the Merciless

            Teacher salaries have kept well ahead of the cost of living, plus they get generous fringe benefits. Overall they are doing better than people in the private sector, as the intense competition for any teaching jobs that open up abundantly demonstrates.

            Also, sometimes a “fair raise” is “no salary increase but you get to keep your job”.

            The county, if anything, went too far in meeting Garza’s demands.

          • Greg

            But what reason do you presume that ALL teachers (or any of them) are entitled to a raise?

            They are all very well paid and have benefits far more generous than most in the private sector. Health care and retirement alone are gold-plated benefits along, of course, with summers off and lots of vacation and bad-weather days off.

            And what does “management” add to the classroom experience let alone student achievement?

        • Mike M

          Excellent! But does the arithemetic add up. Do the developments generate the marginal taxes to cover the requirements? THAT is the question. When our rates climb with increased density, I am inclined to believe the developers are getting their cut at our expense. Tell me you get it and I won’t call you grasshopper.

  • vdiv

    $3.8B for about 187,000 students is about $20,000 per student per year. How does this compare to our neighboring counties?

    • Ming the Merciless

      Irrelevant.

      • vdiv

        So are you but we like you anyway :p
        Why is it irrelevant?

    • RAmember2

      Dollars per student is probably the best single metric, but I don’t know the “comps”. Does anyone have that????

    • Chuck Morningwood

      While that’s perhaps a decent “rule of thumb” metric, it doesn’t mean a lot. One of my bambinos is in a self-contained special needs classroom. He’s costing the county 2-3 times the average.

      Your average illegal gets special teachers and more of them. In many cases, the extremely young go to immersion schools meant to benefit the non-native speakers but which serve, in reality, as full-day ESOL. (If you doubt this, you should check on the locations of the county’s Spanish immersion schools. They’re all located in areas with high concentrations of illegal/immigrants.).

      So, yeah, maybe we are spending on average $20K/student, but in reality, for your average Gen Ed American acculturated child, that spending is significantly less.

      • vdiv

        I agree that the metric needs context, how large is the school system, how many magnet schools do they have, how are they ranked academically, are there particular reasons their auxiliary costs to be high, cost of living, income levels and distribution, etc, but you completely lost me with the “illegal” talk.

  • Chuck Morningwood

    When you’re talking about $2,000,000,000, $14,000,000 is just a rounding error.

    I say, cut the budget to TJHSST. The school is clearly racist considering that it doesn’t reflect the racial make up of the country. If this had been a banks loan portfolio instead of a school, somebody would be answering some “redlining” questions before the Justice Department.

  • RAmember2

    But wait: Didn’t the School Board members give themselves huge salary increases a month or two ago? And teachers will get how much more?

  • Rodney Dangerfield

    Never mind … I was just being impatient! Feel free to delete my duplicates! 🙂

  • thebratwurstking

    Crying wolf year after year, nothing is ever good enough. The county has 1.18 million people now according to the latest official report. The schools have constantly been receiving well over 50% of the budget as long as I can remember. As parents, we are asked to chip in more supplies, cash and hours every year as well. Apparently, nothing gets better, just worse. Or so they say.

    The problem is probably elsewhere as with any government entity. A whole bunch of bu·reauc·ra·cy (byo͝oˈräkrəsē/) and little to no business sense. Sadly, this system is so slow, inflexible and with a long history, so it’s unlikely that any change is on the horizon.

  • 30yearsinReston

    what a nerve
    $2B is not enough for a school system which is getting worse

  • 30yearsinReston

    Rate stayed the same – big whoop – valuations shot up
    Over half the TOTAL budget for a second rate school system with as many administrators as teachers

  • Rational Reston

    This statement is incorrect: “Real estate taxes for Fairfax County residents remain unchanged, at $1.09 per $100 of assessed value.”

    The tax RATE remains unchanged, but our assessments will go up, so our actual taxes paid will go up.

  • RAmember2

    Shut up and do you darn job, Garza! And, if you really want to help, give back that huge pay raise you gave yourself and your Board colleagues just weeks ago.

  • Regina

    And when stupid has nothing to say, they go after Illegals!

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