Fairfax County Concerned State Funding Won’t Be Enough to Cover Teacher Raises

fcps logoWhen Fairfax County Public Schools approved its $2.7 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2017 last May, school officials, staffers and members of the school community seemed pleased that adequate funding would be coming from state and county coffers to cover needed staff pay increases.

Superintendent Karen Garza had led a nearly year-long campaign against program cuts and in support of a step- and a 1-percent market scale adjustment for all eligible employees, as well as $40 million to enhance teacher salaries to make them more competitive. FCPS has pointed out repeatedly it is losing ground compared to other area school districts’ salaries — and is also losing good teachers to neighboring systems.

But according to a recent Washington Post story, the county is now concerned that the Commonwealth of Virginia’s contribution to FCPS will fall $4.4 million short.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday authorized a letter to be sent to Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) to express concern about projections that state funding will be about a quarter less than the $16.8 million they were expecting for teacher salaries.

Says the Post story:

The lower amount of expected state funding stems from a $266 million negative balance in Virginia’s fiscal 2016 budget, which McAuliffe’s administration attributed to lower-than-expected payroll and sales-tax receipts.

In May, the governor’s office ordered state agencies to trim spending to address the deficit.

Although the difference in state funding seems relatively paltry in relation to the $2.7 billion school budget, it nonetheless frustrated Fairfax supervisors, who have long complained that state funding for local schools is meager.

Meanwhile FCPS says it will find a way to honor the promise of $40 million in teacher raises for Fiscal Year 2017.

“FCPS will ensure our teachers receive the pay increases they deserve,” schools spokesman John Torre said in an email.

“However, any decrease in funding from the state has a negative impact on our budget and places a greater financial burden on our County funding partners and our school division to close the gap. … Even though the state funding is on hold, FCPS is committed to employee salary increases.”

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