The move was expected — and capped a year of dire forecasts, budget task forces and warnings of program cutbacks. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors also raised real estate taxes 4 cents to $1.13 per $100 of assessed value in order to nearly fully fund the schools with a $2 billion transfer.
“We are sincerely appreciative of the efforts of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors,” said School Board Chair Pat Hynes (Hunter Mill). “Working together, we were able to secure the funding necessary to make critical investments in teacher pay, reduce the size of some classes in our elementary schools, and maintain our instructional programs and services to our students. ”
“This budget is the first one in nine years that does not include difficult cuts to the FCPS operating budget,” she adds. “It enables us to begin the process of rebuilding the school division.”
The school system will be able to offer a salary increase of a step and a 1 percent market scale adjustment for all eligible employees; $40 million to enhance teacher salaries to make them more competitive; and more than $10 million to lower elementary school class (capping classes at 30 students)
The new budget takes effect July 1.
Other budget highlights:
The county transfer was an increase of 4.8 percent above FY 2016. There was also a 3.8 percent, or $22.3 million, increase in state aid and sales tax, and $6.7 million in reductions from enrollment as compared to 2016.
The FY 2017 budget recognizes compensation base savings of $19.1 million due to employee turnover and fuel savings of $2 million.
Investments of $2.2 million to replace some of FCPS’ aging buses are included in the FY 2017 budget. Also included are $13.8 million to cover health insurance increases and $14.7 million to cover retirement rate increases.
See more budget details on the FCPS website.
Nearly 1,500 eighth-graders who took the entrance exam for Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology will have to re-take the essay portion, Fairfax County Public Schools officials said.
There were computer glitches at all of the 15 locations where the test was given last Saturday.
Thomas Jefferson — “TJ” — is the highly selective magnet school for Northern Virginia, drawing students from Fairfax, Loudoun, Arlington and other nearby counties.
FCPS spokesman John Torre said 1,496 were registered to take Saturday’s test, a semifinal round that included four essay questions.
The problems occurred when students tried to save their essay or the student information sheet on the computer. At least 500 students experienced the issues.
The students will now be allowed to re-do the essay questions at home the week of Feb. 6. In past years, before going to an online system, the essay portions were completed at home.
“We understand the burden placed on students and parents by having to retake the . . . essay portion of the TJ admission exam,” FCPS said in a statement. “Prior to last year, a similar method was used during this portion of the application process and, given the current circumstances, we believe this is the best approach.”
Some parents have expressed concern that the at-home test will give some students an unfair advantage.