Reston, VA

Superintendent Karen Garza/FCPSFairfax County Public Schools’ Budget Task Force has completed its analysis, and on Monday presented Superintendent Karen Garza with its recommendations.

Among the suggested changes: fees for AP tests, increase in student parking fees, increase in class sizes and elimination of language immersion programs.

The task force has been working since last summer on finding ways to narrow a projected $50 million or $75 million budget gap for FCPS for 2016-17. The group, which also considered input from the community, is working with two numbers because it is still unknown how much funding it will get from the commonwealth and Fairfax County.

Budget cutting is still a work in progress. Rather than present a list of definite services and programs to be changed in order to save money, the group ranked ideas that emerged as the most popular among the group and community suggestions.

“It’s important for parents and all of our stakeholders to understand that the Task Force has made a recommendation and no decisions have been made,” Garza said. “It is still up to me and the School Board to determine how to develop a budget for next school year that will support all of our operational needs. However, reductions will be unavoidable unless we receive sufficient revenue to meet our expenditure requirements. As is clear in the Task Force report, it is difficult to reach a clear community consensus on these difficult and unpleasant reductions. As I’ve said all along, we cannot cut our way to excellence.”

The Budget Task Force said it prioritized its recommendations by considering the percentage of agreement among Task Force members on individual suggestions. It also note the percentage agreement among members of the community, as reflected through the budget proposal tool and comments submitted at community outreach meetings, and online via an interactive budget tool.

There will be many more school board work sessions and community meetings on the budget as the process continues. Garza will present her budget in January, and after more discussion, the final budget will be adopted in May.

Garza asked the Budget Task Force to keep in mind six criteria when evaluating potential cuts:
1. Number of students impacted
2. Effect on employees and students
3. Disruption to the system
4. Permanent cuts instead of “one time” cuts
5. Magnitude of the cut
6. Student outcomes especially on the core instruction

The school system will not reduce the the seven-period day or full-day kindergarten or the contract length for teachers. The task force hopes to protect the employee’s step- and cost-of-living increase in order to remain competitive with nearby districts, FCPS said.

Here are some of the suggested cuts that received more than 75 percent agreement. To see a full list of suggestions and their rankings, visit the FCPS website.

$50 Million Scenario (savings amount in parentheses) 

  • Increase community use fees by 40 percent ($0.5 million)
  • Increase student parking fees from $200 to $300 ($0.5 m)
  • Athletics Fee ‐ Charge a fee of $200 per sport per student with a fee
    waiver applied to students eligible for Free and Reduced‐price Meals
    ($3.6m)
  • Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate Test Fees ‐
    Require students to pay all test and registration fees with a fee
    waiver applied to students eligible for Free and Reduced‐price Meals
    ($3.8m)
  • Language Immersion Programs ‐ Eliminate the program ($1.9m)
  • Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) Fees ‐ Require students
    to pay all test and registration fees with a fee waiver applied to
    students eligible for Free and Reduced‐price Meals
    ($0.1m)
  • Class Size for Elementary School Advanced Academic Program ‐
    Increase the class size formula by 1.0 student per teacher
    ($1.1m)
  • High School Staffing ‐ Exclude students enrolled in online & academy
    classes from the calculation of base school teacher allocations
    ($3.3m)

$75 Million Scenario

  • Student Parking Fee ‐ Increase the fee from $200 to $300 and
    maintain the current reduction percentages for students eligible for
    Free and Reduced‐price Meals ($0.5m)
  • Pupil Placement Fee ‐ Charge an application fee of $300 per student
    for any student attending a school other than his or her base school.
    Apply fee waiver to students eligible for Free and Reduced‐price
    Meals and FCPS employees ($1.5m)
  • Community Facility Use Fees ‐ Increase fees by approximately 40 percent ($0.5m)
  • Substitute Teacher Pay ‐ Reduce the daily rate of substitute pay to the average of the surrounding Virginia school divisions ($2.3m)
  • Athletics Fee ‐ Charge a fee of $200 per sport per student with a fee
    waiver applied to students eligible for Free and Reduced‐price Meals ($3.6m)
  • Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) fees ‐ Require students
    to pay all test and registration fees with a fee waiver applied to
    students eligible for Free and Reduced‐price Meals ($0.1m)
  • Language Immersion Programs ‐ Eliminate the program ($1.9m)
  • Summer School Intervention at Elementary & Middle Schools ‐
    Eliminate remedial summer school excluding Special Education and
    Bridges to Kindergarten ($3.0m)
  • Class Size for Elementary School Advanced Academic Program ‐
    Increase the class size formula by 1.0 student per teacher ($1.1m)
  • Class Size for Middle School Advanced Academic Program ‐ Increase
    the class size formula by 1.0 student per teacher ($0.7m)
  • High School Staffing ‐ Exclude students enrolled in online & academy
    classes from the calculation of base school teacher allocations ($3.3m)
  • Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate Test Fees ‐
    Require students to pay all test and registration fees with a fee
    waiver applied to students eligible for Free and Reduced‐price Meals
    ($3.8m)
  • Late (After School) Bus Service at High Schools ‐ Eliminate the one
    day of late bus service ($0.7m)
  • Needs‐Based Staffing for Elementary Schools ‐ Reduce the additional
    resources allocated to schools based on the number and percentage
    of students eligible for Free and Reduced‐price Meals by 20 percent, with
    the impact to the highest poverty schools being mitigated by theState K‐3 program
    ($5.2m)
  • Needs‐Based Staffing for Middle Schools ‐ Reduce the additional
    resources allocated to schools based on the number and percentage
    of students eligible for Free and Reduced‐price Meals by 20 percent ($1.1)
  • Needs‐Based Staffing for High Schools ‐ Reduce the additional
    resources allocated to schools based on the number and percentage
    of students eligible for Free and Reduced‐price Meals by 20 percent
    ($1.2m)
  • Class Size Formula ‐ Increase the elementary school staffing formula
    minimum from 17 students per teacher to 19 students per teacher ($3.6m)
  • Elementary Band and Orchestra ‐ Begin both band and strings in 5th
    grade, delaying the beginning of strings from 4th grade to 5th grade
    ($2.0m)

Photo: FCPS Superintendent Karen Garza/file photo

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