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$2.4 Billion School Budget Proposed

Budget includes new positions, salary increases to address growing student population.

— Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) Superintendent Jack D. Dale presented a $2.4 billion budget proposal to the school board on Jan. 12, reflecting a nine percent – or $202.3 million increase - in next year’s operating budget.

With a projected enrollment of 181,608 students, the proposed budget includes an additional 721.3 positions to support an additional 3,900 students, as well as cost-of-living increases for all eligible employees. Since 2008, the district’s enrollment has grown by more than 15,000 students.

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Jack Dale

"Over the past five years, we have added the (student population) equivalent of a high school, middle school and 16 elementary schools," Ted Velkoff (At-large) said after the Jan. 12 school board meeting, during which Dale released details of the budget.

Velkoff added there is a "pent-up need" for increased funding. "The funding has been pretty flat over the past five years, while we’ve been absorbing that many students and we’ve had no corresponding increase in funding," Velkoff said.

"We are seeing the greatest increases in the numbers of our students with additional needs," Dale said. "Since 2008, the number of students enrolled in English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) has risen 48.3 percent, and the number of students eligible for free or reduced-price meals is up 35.4 percent."

This fall, FCPS will open two new schools: a middle school at the South County site and an elementary school at the Lacey site.

Budget Facts

Funds to expand Pathways to the Baccalaureate, part of the College Success program, to four additional schools - Centreville, Chantilly, South County and Westfield High Schools - and to expand the program to 10th and 11th grades at Annandale, Edison, Falls Church, Lee, Mount Vernon, South Lakes, and Stuart High Schools and Hayfield Secondary School.

The program works to develop college readiness and provide ongoing support to students who enroll in Northern Virginia Community College with the intent of transferring to a four-year Virginia college to earn a bachelor’s degree. Fairfax, Herndon, Marshall, and West Potomac High Schools also offer a similar program called the College Success program.

The projected cost per pupil for FY 2013 will be $13,654, an increase of 6.5 percent over the current operating budget.

The Fairfax County School Board will hold public hearings on the FY 2013 budget on Jan. 30 and 31 at Jackson Middle School, 3020 Gallows Road. A speakers’ list for those public hearings opened on Jan. 13 at: www.fcps.edu/schl.... For complete information on the FCPS FY 2013 budget, including the budget calendar, visit www.fcps.edu/fs/b...>

The proposed budget includes the addition of 26 positions to address large class sizes and 12 positions to support the expansion of the World Languages program in elementary schools. Eight schools will add the Foreign Languages in the Elementary Schools (FLES) program, and two new schools will implement the Foreign Language Immersion program.

Under Dale’s plan, extended learning time for students and extended time for teachers are included in the budget, as well as a 2-percent cost-of-living increase for employees. Teacher salaries have been frozen for two years.

"It is imperative for FCPS to stay competitive in the marketplace in order to continue to attract the best employees to support student success," Dale said. "We continue to dedicate the majority of our budget, 85.9 percent, and the majority of our positions, 94.6 percent, directly to instructional programs."

"I was content to see that teacher compensation was again prioritized in this year's budget. Sustaining compensation increases from last year shows Fairfax's commitment to ensuring that those who teach here can afford to live here," said Ryan McElveen (At-large).

"However, I was disappointed to see that athletic fees were not addressed in the budget. In terms of cost, they are a low-hanging fruit at less than $2 million." McElveen said athletic fees, as well as booster fees, fundraisers and spirit-pack payments, can be a significant burden on students of low-income families. "I hope that the board will remember these students and their families in the coming months."