The Fairfax County School Board has approved the revised Fiscal Year 2021 (FY 21) budget. The budget, revised due to the COVID-19 pandemic, reduced the previously recommended transfer increase from Fairfax County from $85.5 million to $7.3 million and includes a reduction of $4.8 million from the state. Along with other budget cuts, the total amount of the FY 21 budget was reduced by $67.0 million.
“Our revised budget reflects the reality of the current environment of local governments,” said School Board Chair Karen Corbett Sanders. “We continue to focus our efforts on student achievement, equity, and social and emotional supports for students. We know that students will experience gaps as a result of the closure and we have to focus on bridging those gaps resulting from the closure. The revised budget includes contingency funds in the event there is a second wave of COVID-19.”
The Board voted to preserve $11.2 million for strategic investments in achievement, equity, and social emotional health. “Despite the current challenges, we recognize that the foundation for success is a school system where all students have access to the resources needed to achieve their academic goals and potential, no matter where they live, where they come from, or what challenges they may face each day,” said Corbett Sanders. “As a result, we retained funding for—among others—student social and emotional health and ways to support equity in education for all our students.” Also included in the revised budget is funding to address distance learning challenges and $9.3 million to fund a post COVID-19 recovery plan.
Among the revisions were the elimination of step increases and market scale adjustments for employees; elementary principals salary parity; options for other salary scale enhancements; and division-wide professional development. The Board did approve funding for the second year of a three-year implementation plan to bring classroom instructional support scales to 50 percent of the teacher salaries on the bachelor’s scale; additional on-time graduation coordinators; additional special education resource teachers and intensive support specialists; additional substance abuse prevention specialists; and additional social workers.
“I want to thank Superintendent Brabrand and his budget team for their diligent and collaborative work with County Executive Bryan Hill and the Board of Supervisors to ensure the most immediate needs of our school system can be met,” said School Board Budget Chair Megan McLaughlin. “I also want to express appreciation for my School Board colleagues — especially Budget Vice Chair Ricardy Anderson — for their tireless work in passing a budget that focuses on providing vital services for our students and families as well as protecting our hardworking employees. And finally, I want to thank the Board of Supervisors for their deep commitment to our public schools. This valuable support is essential as FCPS continues to address the impact and challenges brought about by the current health crisis.”
In addition, the Board also approved amendments to develop a plan to move school counselors into the highest-need schools for the 2020-21 school year, and to support gaps in learning for the highest-need English language learner (ELL) students.
FCPS will receive $21.1 million from the federal CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act under the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to the school system.
The School Board also directed the Superintendent to prepare quarterly reviews of the FY21 budget and recommend adjustments based on the increased availability of funds. Future recommendations should include potential investments being proposed by the County for employee compensation, as well as strategic school-based services.