Fairfax County Public Schools Needing Community’s Help

Fairfax County Public Schools Needing Community’s Help

Facts about FCPS

  • 196 schools
  • Employs 23,447 people
  • Teaches 186, 785 students (projected 2014-2015 school year, last updated Oct. 22, 2014)
  • Receives 52.4% of the county budget ($1,768.5 million)
  • Spends $13,472 dollars per student
  • Educates more students in trailers than total enrollment of Alexandria City Public Schools

Superintendent Karen Garza begins and ends her Listening Tour meetings with a plea to those in the room — parents, teachers, employees, unions — to help her achieve what needs to be done for their school system. “I am going to need your help,” she says to audiences who voice concerns about class size, resources for special education, and teacher salaries.

Garza says she hopes to have a lot more people engaged during the budget process this spring. “Come and testify. Talk with your Board of Supervisors at those meetings. It's usually filled with folks. But we need a lot more parents and advocates for our public schools to be in that room.”

Garza explains: “We grow by 17-20 students every single day. We have grown by 20,000 students in six years. This is a huge strain on our budget. We spend $25 million a year to support new students. We aren’t happy with teacher salaries. We need to help people in our area understand our budget. Help us as we enter this next budget year.”

“Read our ‘Citizens Guide’,” says Garza. “There's lots of good information in there to help people understand how the system works and how they can help. This year it includes a section on why your year-end balance ends up being what it is. The more we can get people to read that document, the more people will follow how the system works and make solid inputs. “

“We need to get more business and community leaders to understand: Poverty is growing, our county is definitely changing. We started some outreach this year with our superintendent round-tables.”

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The president of the Fairfax County Council of PTAs, Debbie Kilpatrick, underlined the need for more community involvement: “Karen Garza cannot do this on her own. Parents need to get more involved so they know what they can do to support Garza and their schools. They should look at the websites, come to PTA meetings, know what the issues are and vote on them. Can she get smaller classrooms achieved? If she says it, she will do it. But she will need help.”

Steven Greenburg, president of Fairfax County Federation of Teachers, echoed Garza’s plea. “Do we know as a group of people, as average citizens living in Fairfax County, how to take action? If this community sees value in education then voters have to make their views known. Karen Garza won’t get what she wants without more involvement by the community,” Greenburg said. “People will have to reach out to public officials and let them know where the voters stand.”