Brief: Fairfax County Public Schools Budget

Brief: Fairfax County Public Schools Budget

The Fairfax County School Board has adopted the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) FY 2018 Approved Budget of $2.8 billion that includes reductions of more than $50 million that were necessary to fund required expenditure increases and address employee compensation which is a priority in FCPS’ Strategic Plan. The budget includes $44.0 million for an average step increase of 2.5 percent for all eligible employees, an additional $26.6 million as part of a multi-year plan to enhance teacher salaries and make them more competitive, and $0.4 million for parent liaison compensation. The budget also includes $2.0 million to implement a new Classroom Instructional Support pay scale for instructional assistants, public health assistants and public health training assistants and a new Schedule H for food service workers and bus drivers and attendants.

“This has been yet another difficult budget year, but we are pleased that we were able to make an investment in our top budget priority – teacher compensation,” said School Board Chair Sandy Evans. “Unfortunately, due to the county’s financial situation and the failure of the meals tax referendum, we again had a major funding gap to fill. We were able to avoid program cuts but had difficult decisions to make to strike the best balance for our students, families, and employees. We remain a stellar school system—despite our challenges—due largely to the dedication and talent of our world-class employees.”

To balance the budget, the School Board voted to increase the staffing ratio formula by 0.5 students per teacher, resulting in a reduction of 166.7 positions ($14.7 million). The School Board also voted to eliminate the market scale adjustment for nonteacher scale employees ($7.9 million), to delay implementation of the nonteacher salary scales ($5.0 million), and to extend the teacher scale implementation from four years to five years ($6.6 million). Additionally, the School Board also approved plan benefit modifications to ERFC (Educational Employees’ Supplementary Retirement System of Fairfax County) impacting members hired on or after July 1, 2017 ($2.3 million).

The Board also reduced central office support to schools ($3.1 million and 19.5 positions) and funds for school instructional materials ($2.4 million), deferred full implementation of an assessment tool ($1.0 million), and reduced professional development funds ($0.5 million).

The Board also approved a redesign of the Transitional ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) High School program ($1.4 million), reducing the number of contracted teacher positions by 23.7. The elementary staffing formula floor was increased from 17 to 18 ($1.0 million) and a reduction of 11.2 positions.

Further, the Board voted to institute a one-time $50 high school extracurricular activity fee per school year raising $1.7 million, pupil placement application fees raising $0.5 million, and approved Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) test fees for any tests taken that exceed six, raising $0.6 million.

Required expenditure increases include retirement and health insurance and $12.7 million to address enrollment growth and demographic changes. The FY 2018 budget has a beginning balance of $33.5 million and includes an increase in the County transfer to the School Operating Fund of 2.79 percent above the FY 2017 Approved Budget as well as an increase of $25.1 million in state aid and sales tax.

In addition, the School Board voted to direct the Superintendent, as part of the FY 2017 Final Budget Review, to prioritize setting aside funding to provide a one-time bonus for employees who will not receive a salary increase as a result of the compensation adjustments included in the FY 2018 Approved Budget. Options for a bonus will be presented to the School Board at the work session on the FY 2017 Final Budget Review scheduled for July 17.

The FY 2018 Approved Budget takes effect July 1. Additional budget details are available online.