School Board Approves $3.8 Billion Budget

School Board Approves $3.8 Billion Budget

Mateo Dunne proposal not to increase pay for top division leadership rejected by Board; Supervisors will influence budget.


• FCPS enrollment is projected to increase 2.3% since FY 2023. Student enrollment in free and reduced-priced meals is expected to increase by 19.4%; English for Speakers of Other Languages by 12.9%; and special education by 10.7%. Preschoolers receiving special education services will rise 47.2%.

• The Advertised Budget of $3.8 billion includes an increase of $301.8 million, or 8.6 percent, over the previous budget. Schools seek an additional $254.0 million, or 10.5 percent increase, from the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

On Thursday, Feb. 22, the twelve-member Fairfax County School Board approved the  Fiscal Year 2025 Advertised Budget 11–0 with one abstention.

The Advertised Budget totals $3.8 billion. It includes an increase of $301.8 million, or 8.6 percent, over the FY 2024 Approved Budget. The Fairfax County School Board and Dr. Michelle Reid, division superintendent, requested an additional $254.0 million, or a 10.5 percent increase, from the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

The budget includes a 6 percent compensation adjustment for all employees up and down the pay scale.

Ricardy Anderson (Mason), Karl Frisch (Providence), Melanie Meren (Hunter Mill), Rachna Sizemore Heizer (Braddock), Sandy Anderson (Springfield), Seema Dixit (Sully), Robyn Lady (Dranesville), Marcia St. John-Cunning (Franconia), Kyle McDaniel (at large), Ryan McElveen (at large), and Ilryong Moon (at large) voted yes. Mateo Dunne (Mount Vernon) abstained.

Before the vote, Dunne moved to amend the main motion to exclude the 25 highest-paid FCPS employees, including the superintendent, from salary increases.

Dunne said he wanted to focus more on school employees struggling financially because of their low salaries yet contributing the most on the front lines with children daily. In his experience, you don’t give the same raise to everyone because some people are underpaid compared to the market, he said. Some are grossly underpaid. 

“So rather than give everyone the same raise and have some people remain grossly underpaid, you try to level out those differences, so everyone is basically in a better situation,” Dunne said.

Drawing attention to leadership in the federal government, Dunne looked at the pay for most of Fairfax County’s school division senior leadership and the fact the division has a three-and-a-half billion dollar budget. “Most of our senior leadership at FCPS earn more than the leadership of the Department of Defense, which has a $1 trillion budget. So if our CFO is getting paid more than the CFO of the Pentagon, I think that's a problem,” Dunne said.

Chair Frisch asked for a second on Dunne’s motion; no one seconded, thereby killing the motion.

Reid spoke before the main motion vote. The county has high expectations for its school division, she said. Reid called Fairfax County Public Schools not only “a premier division in Virginia; it is one of the preeminent divisions in this country,” according to Reid. “Everybody that's part of the Fairfax County staff family puts their all into their work,” she said.

Fairfax County has gradually fallen further behind in its pay scale, not just in the region but across the country, she said. “And it impacts not just recruitment but retention. As hires get into different roles, they see that they can earn a greater wage elsewhere. That’s a disincentive to stay,” said Reid. “We rank seven out of eight in the regions around us, and that’s not acceptable.”

The school board hired Reid in 2022 at a salary of $380,000 a year. Six percent of that would be a $22,800 raise.

Karl Frisch said, “We cannot retain a world-class school system without making sure we retain and recruit world-class staff. We must be competitive locally and nationally. … This bare-bones budget is a start.”

The division’s Office of Communications released a statement on Friday, Feb. 23: "The State of Virginia has historically underfunded FCPS by continuing to use outdated staffing formulas that leave school districts around the Commonwealth lacking the meaningful support needed for excellence in public education. Virginia provides less funding per student than many neighboring states, including Maryland, Kentucky, and West Virginia. Additionally, the county transfer to FCPS over the five-year period (FY 2019–23) has averaged 52.6 percent of the county’s disbursements. The county’s FY 2025 budget proposal provides FCPS 51.4 percent, a difference of $63 million. The school division’s local transfer request for a 10.5 percent increase is less than requests from Loudoun County Public Schools’ (11.3 percent) and Prince William County Public Schools’ (10.6 percent). There are no new initiatives included in the FCPS Advertised Budget request.”

Key highlights of the adopted Fairfax County Public Schools Fiscal Year 2025 Advertised Budget: FCPS enrollment is expected to increase 2.3 percent since FY 2023. Growth is also seen in the number of students receiving additional services. Student enrollment in free and reduced-priced meals is expected to increase by 19.4 percent, English for Speakers of Other Languages by 12.9 percent, and special education by 10.7 percent. Preschoolers receiving special education will rise 47.2 percent.

The budget considers the expansion of preschool, intensive family engagement, updated technology, green school initiatives, increased mental health services, and additional support for athletics and fine arts.

“We appreciate our longstanding and collaborative partnership with the Board of Supervisors,” said Reid. They are strong supporters of our schools and our students.” 

However, during the Tuesday, Feb. 20, Board of Supervisors meeting, Chairman Jeff McKay and some supervisors questioned the School Board FY 2025 Advertised Budget.

McKay said that he “expected a difficult budget.” Speaking to the school board's request for a funds transfer of $165 million, he  described it  as “unrealistic.”

Supervisor Dan Storck (Mount Vernon) said that the FCPS Board request “is undoable, and they must look to reduce.”

Supervisor Jimmy Bierman (Dranesville) questioned, “If we fund a school transfer of $165 million, what is the comparison of teacher pay to county pay?”
The FY 25 Budget Calendar shows a joint Fairfax County School Board and Board of Supervisors meeting on Feb. 27 to discuss the budget and tax rates. On March 5, the Board of Supervisors advertises the tax rate. On April 16–18, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors holds three days of public hearings on the budget. 

See the budget calendar for all dates leading up to when the school board adopts the FY2025 Approved Budget on May 23.

The next regular board meeting will be held on Thursday, March 7, at Luther Jackson Middle School at 7 p.m.