52°Partly Cloudy

Report: FCPS Important Driver of Local Economy

by Karen Goff September 29, 2016 at 11:30 am 8 Comments

FCPS busA new report from the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University says that Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) has a local economic impact of $2.2 billion, making it one of the most important sources of local economic activity.

FCPS is Fairfax County’s largest employer with more than 27,000 full- and part-time employees.

Report author Stephen S. Fuller found that FCPS accounts for 4.1 percent of the countywide employment base and its budgeted FY 2017 spending accounts for 2.0 percent of county’s gross county product.

That makes FCPS the second-largest source of economic activity in the Fairfax County (following the federal government), says Fuller.

“Dr. Fuller’s report clearly shows how FCPS is a major contributor to the Fairfax County economy and plays an important role in our community’s quality of life, sustainability, and future growth,” FCPS Superintendent Karen Garza said in a release. 

“Our primary mission remains ensuring all of our students succeed in the classroom and beyond. This report demonstrates that in fulfilling our mission, FCPS provides a significant economic benefit to the community. Funding from our community provided to FCPS by our local and state partners has a positive impact that goes well beyond our classrooms.”

However, it is somewhat a case of spending money to make money.

FCPS has been caught in perennial budget battles the last several years. About half of the county’s annual budget goes to the schools. This year’s transfer was about $2 billion of a $2.7 billion budget.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors raised real estate taxes 4 cents to $1.13 per $100 of assessed value in 2016 in order to nearly fully fund the $2 billion transfer. Fairfax County residents will vote on a meals tax referendum Nov. 8. The proposed 4-percent meals tax will add about $100 million annually to the county, with 70 percent of that going to schools.


Other key findings in the report include:

Sixty-seven percent of FCPS’ payroll outlays, or $1.15 billion, are made to employees residing within Fairfax County and 51.5 percent of all contractor payments are made to vendors located in or conducting their work in Fairfax County.

FCPS will spend $1.85 billion in Fairfax County during FY 2017, 62 percent of its total budget.
FCPS’ outlays within the Fairfax County economy will support an additional 13,271 full-time, year-round equivalent jobs spanning a broad-base of businesses of which an estimated 57.2 percent or 7,587 would be located in the county and generate $417.3 million in new personal earnings to the benefit of workers residing in Fairfax County.

FCPS’ annual outlays in Fairfax County will support directly and indirectly almost 35,000 jobs in Fairfax County, accounting for 5.3 percent of the county’s total jobs for residents and non-residents in 2016 with a combined payroll (personal earnings) totaling $1.6 billion to be recycled and re-spent in support of the local economy.

The report concludes that FCPS’ economic impacts are far more broadly distributed across Fairfax County’s economy than are the economic impacts generated by federal government employment and procurement spending.

FCPS’ economic benefits are realized by a wide cross section of local-serving business establishments patronized by the more than 18,000 FCPS employees living in Fairfax County and the additional 7,587 other local jobholders whose employment depends indirectly on or is induced by the outlays of FCPS in Fairfax County.

Additionally, FCPS’ contractor outlays support a wide range of locally based businesses that provide the goods and services needed to operate and maintain the county’s public schools and FCPS’ capacity to educate the county’s workforce of the future.

See the entire report on FCPS’ website.

  • One Really

    When I read this pro-tax piece all I hear is:

    Child: “Dad I need more money.”
    Me: “Why do you need more and what happen to your money?”
    Child: “I spent it on stuff and just need more.”
    Me: “How does it feel to want?”

    I am not debating the local impact of FCPS nor the Federal gov’t in the area. I am just saying spend within your means. My family spends within its means as I am sure most within the area does.

  • Mike M

    I did not read the actual report, so I am not clear that Garza’s interpretation is at all fair. But let’s look at the logic here:

    If it’s good for the County that the FCPS spends up to 2% of the “County GDP,” would it be better if they spent 20% I mean this is ridiculous. Once again, from where do they think that money comes?.

    I do have major suspicion of anything coming from Fuller’s center. He has advocated for developers rather consistently over the past 20+ years. I think he does advocacy work. I have worked at a think tank where we did advocacy studies.

    • cRAzy

      Developers are the major (maybe only) funding source for GMU’s Center for Regional Growth. The only thing growing is Fuller’s bank account.

      • Mike M

        I suspect that you and I paid for this one. County money is backing the meals tax increase in ways direct and indirect.

  • cRAzy

    Fairfax County can always count on Fuller giving them the report they want. Fuller’s projections for job and population growth that drove Tysons and Reston planning were grotesquely over the top, but it sure helped add to allowable density in both areas. An assistant of his subsequently undid his horrendous research results and has since left GMU for a place with greater integrity.

    Fuller has no research ethics at all.

  • concordpoint


  • concordpoint

    The report was prepared for FCPS. A FOIA request to FCPS needs to be made to figure out how much of the taxpayers money was spent on this self-serving document. I think (hope) that this propaganda backfires on them big time.

  • Ming the Merciless

    The tax money given to FCPS would neeeever get spent in the local economy if we didn’t give it to them.

    FCPS is a major contributor to the Fairfax County economy

    NO. The school system is an expense. Like all forms of government activity, it drains the local economy, it does not contribute to it. It may be a necessary expenditure but it is still an expenditure. What is her PhD in, anyway? I’m guessing not economics.


Subscribe to our mailing list