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Fairfax County School Board Addressing Budget Shortfalls

Budget shortfall is $17 million.

The Fairfax County School Board is considering options to close a $17 million shortfall in their 2015 budget. Superintendent Karen Garza presented the board with possible adjustments at a work session on April 28.

The school board is set to adopt their final budget on May 22. On April 29, the Board of Supervisors approved the FY 2015 budget, including a school transfer of three percent, short of Garza’s requested 5.7 percent increase.

According to Garza, $30 million is expected from the state, leaving the budget shortfall at $17 million.

“This ballgame would be so different right now if it weren’t for the additional $30 million that we are anticipating from the state,” Garza said. “It would be much more dire.”

A recommendation was also made to delay step increases until November, which would save $12 million.

“We know that we will have insufficient revenue to implement the full compensation package that we had talked about before, but we believe that we have a good recommendation for taking care of our employees and making some long-term commitments to our employees that I think are very, very important,“ Garza said.

The new recommendations also provide money for AP/IB student fees, which means students will not have to pay for them, as was suggested in the earlier proposed budget.

“Unless we pay for the fees, we cannot require students to take the test,” Garza said. “It gives you the opportunity to measure the effectiveness of the program, and otherwise you are not going to have a true effectiveness measure.”

Garza said paying for the AP/IB test fees is a good investment.

“Yes we know that many of our families can afford those fees, but we have a lot of families where both parents are working two jobs and some of our students take up to six tests,” Garza said. “Students see this as an additional barrier that we don’t need to put in front of them.”