FCPS Superintendent Karen Garza said last spring that the school system — which has more than 180,000 students — could face a deficit of $100 million in the upcoming fiscal year. At a community meeting at South Lakes High School in September, she said the gap would be more like $80 million.
Garza said much of the cost drivers are out of the system’s control. Among them: Increasing enrollment; increasing need for special programs such as English as a Second Language; increased employee health care costs; raises for staff; and contributions to the state retirement fund.
The county has created a Budget Task Force, introduced a citizen online budget tool and has asked citizens for feedback on potential places to make cuts. Among the suggestions: cutting back on sports and activities, larger class sizes, cutting custodial positions, cutting Central Support positions and eliminating all-day Kindergarten, among others.
FCPS gets about 70 percent of its $2.6 billion (2016) budget from the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, which has said to expect about a 3-percent increase for 2017, said Garza.
The county budget staff says the reason for the updated forecast of $72 million still takes into account a 3-percent increase in the county transfer, but also takes into considers:
State Aid — Reflects a lower projected LCI (Local Composite Index) loss based on the Governor’s budget comments combined with the loss of one-time compensation funding included in FY2016 offset by projected enrollment increases
Health Insurance — FCPS is finalizing the plan offerings for calendar year 2016, and rates are projected to increase.
Virginia Retirement System — The rate projection was updated based on the decrease in the rate for FY2016
Utilities — Assumes increases primarily in electricity, offset by cost avoidances from our contract with the energy conservation company, Cenegistic.
See the updated forecast in this document on the FCPS school board site.