Superintendent Karen Garza makes a good case for increasing the budget for Fairfax County Public Schools by 4.8 percent over the Fiscal Year 2016 budget. In order to balance the budget, and due to nearly flat state aid, a 6.7 percent increase in the county budget transfer to FCPS is requested..
Here is the email message that Garza sent out today:
Dear FCPS Community:
I am so grateful to be the Superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools – a school system with a tradition of excellence and one that has long enjoyed the tremendous support and engagement of the entire community. FCPS’ reputation for excellence is forged through genuine community investment. Our dedication and success is first and foremost to ensure success for every FCPS student, but this success also attracts businesses and people to our county, and fosters meaningful connections to our schools for residents of all ages.
Last night, I presented the FY 2017 Proposed Budget of $2.7 billion to the School Board. This year, I am asking our employees, students and families to stand with me to reverse the trend of nearly a decade of underfunding our school system. This is the year we must begin the restoration and rebuilding process. We have heard loud and clear from our community they do not want additional cuts to the programs and services that make FCPS great.
For the past nine years, we have cut a half billion dollars from our budgets due to insufficient funding to meet our increasing enrollment, rising health care costs, state retirement increases, and employee salary needs. Our teacher salaries are lagging behind other local jurisdictions, and this year we started school with an unprecedented 200 vacancies, we must do everything in our power to see that this never happens again.
The skills that we want for our students are taught, fostered and honed by great teachers in the classroom. I am pleased to announce that this budget has two key priorities focused on investment in the classroom:
- As a first step in a multiyear strategy to invest in our entire workforce, we have included a step increase for all eligible employees, a 1 percent market scale adjustment for all employees and an additional $40 million investment in the teacher salary scales. This investment narrows the salary gap for teachers and is an important first step toward improving compensation for all employees. Teachers make up the largest percentage of our workforce so that is where we begin with this initial investment. The budget also includes a salary adjustment for those employees whose hourly rates are below Fairfax County’s living wage standard.
- We are also making a significant investment in our elementary students through the lowering of class sizes. Class size has risen three times in the past decade to balance annual budgets. We are including more than $10 million to hire additional classroom teachers at the elementary school level to reduce class size in every elementary classroom to below 30 students, where classroom space is available.
We are calling on our funding partners at the state and local level to help us to fully fund the FY 2017 budget. We are asking for a 6.7% increase in the county budget transfer, which is needed to fund the basic needs of our school system. If we are unable to receive the revenue necessary to meet these basic and pressing needs then we will be forced to make unthinkable choices about where we cut next.
It is time to start investing in our community’s most important resources….our schools and our students. You can learn more about the budget proposal, and obtain resources to get engaged at www.fcps.edu/savefcps
A quality education is not a luxury, it is a necessity!