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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

School board approves budget that raises employee pay but cuts teaching positions

The Fairfax County School Board has approved a $2.8 billion budget for FY 2018 that raises employee pay but includes more than $50 million in cuts. The budget raises class sizes, resulting in fewer positions.

The budget includes $44 million for an average step increase of 2.5 percent for eligible employees and an additional $26.6 million as part of a multiyear plan to enhance teacher salaries and make them more competitive.

The budget also includes $0.4 million for parent liaison compensation and $2 million in pay increases for instructional assistants, public health assistants, food service workers, and bus drivers.

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 (saving $14.7 million).

The elementary staffing formula floor was increased from 17 to 18 (saving $1 million), resulting in a reduction of 11.2 positions.

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 million), and to extend the teacher scale implementation from four years to five years ($6.6 million).

Additionally, the school board saved $2.3 million by modifying the Educational Employees’ Supplementary Retirement System for employees hired after July 1, 2017.

The board cut 19.5 central office positions, saving $3.1 million, cut $2.4 million for instructional materials, and cut $1.4 million from the high school transitional ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) program.

The board agreed to establish 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 Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate test fees for any tests taken that exceed six (raising $0.6 million).

The budget includes $12.7 million to address enrollment growth and demographic changes and additional funds to accommodate mandated increases in retirement and health insurance costs.

It also takes into account a 2.79 percent increase in the county transfer to the school operating fund over the amount approved for FY 2017 and a $25 million increase in state aid and sales tax revenue.

“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 (Mason). “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.”

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