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Saturday, May 24, 2014

School board adopts budget for FY 2015

The Fairfax County School Board adopted a $2.5 billion budget for FY 2015 May 23 that delays a salary step increase for employees until November. The 2015 budget year starts July 1.

The budget reduces school clerical and custodial staff, increases class size, and cuts needs-based staffing. It includes one additional position for each high school to provide support to students in in-school suspension.

Despite discussions about requiring students to pay for Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) exams, FCPS will continue to cover those fees.

The 2015 budget is $39.9 million, 1.6 percent, over the budget approved for the current year. FCPS is projecting an increase of 2,160 students that, combined with changing student demographics, translates to an additional cost of $19.5 million. Other increased costs are $38.9 million in increased retirement rates and $19.9 million in increased in health insurance rates.

The board passed an amendment to reduce the debt service requirement for the Gatehouse Administration Center by $300,000, based on projected savings from refunding current bonds. The additional funds would be used to add two preschool classes at a cost of $200,000 and increased funding for the Early Literacy and Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters programs by $100,000.

The school board is facing the challenge of dealing with a structural deficit, said board chair Ilryong Moon. “We appreciate the Board of Supervisors’ efforts to increase the transfer this year although we remain disappointed that the board did not fully fund our transfer request,” he said.

The BoS had increased the county transfer amount by 3 percent as compared to the FY 2014 approved county budget, although the school board had requested a 5.7 percent increase. The Virginia General  Assembly, however, is expected to approve an increase in state aid to the schools.

The school board voted to appoint members to a joint committee with the Board of Supervisors to work together toward a collaborative budget development process for the FY 2016 budget.

The board also directed the superintendent to include employee compensation increases, preferably step increases, in the FY 2016 proposed budget, and in doing so, committed itself to compensation increases. FCPS leaders believe teacher raises are critical because teacher pay in Fairfax County is slipping behind that of other jurisdictions.

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