School board members in Arlington are considering a $494 million operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year -- a proposal that represents a four percent increase over last year's budget.
Unlike many other jurisdictions across the region, Arlington's property values are showing a steady increase. That means more property taxes and more money for the county's schools. At the same time, more and more students are flocking to Arlington -- 850 more students this year alone.
School superintendent Patrick Murphy's plan to deal with the influx involves increasing class sizes: "I very much realize this is not an easy decision. But we've got to think forward, and I think the solution that we are proposing here will work, and it will ultimately benefit kids at the end of the day."
Murphy's proposed budget also includes a cost-of-living adjustment for employees and a new substance abuse counselor position, a post he says is essential.
"Substance abuse is a reality. I wish it wasn't," says Murphy. "I wish kids underage were not drinking and using illegal drugs. But at the same time, we are dealing with issues that we can't avoid."
The school board will hold a series of work sessions and public hearings in advance of the April 26 budget adoption.
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