Not Adding Up! Budget Cuts Threaten Popular School Programs

County faces budget battle over school programs

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    They do the math, but it just doesn't add up for parents, students or even teachers in Fairfax County.

    The school system is facing a $176 million shortfall, and Superintendent Jack Dale has proposed cuts of more than $100 million in his current budget.

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    Those cuts could lead to layoffs, bigger class sizes and the elimination of some sports programs, as well as elementary school foreign language and music programs.

    "I don't want them to take it away," said Westfield High School band member Christie Stevens.

     

    "The language program is important," said parent Kathleen Powers. "It attracts people to Fairfax County -- businesses, military -- and that keeps up the property tax base."

    At a public hearing in Falls Church Monday night, concerned parents and students made their voices heard.

    "It helps you be a more rounded person if you have music and sports in your life," said Westfield High school chorus student Brooke Feichtl. "And it makes you smarter."

     

    In addition to the cuts, Fairfax also is proposing adding a $100 participation fee per student, per sport. The estimated $900,000 the fee could generate would not be earmarked to fund athletics. It would go into a general fund.

    "There has never been a situation this drastic," said Bill Curran, Fairfax County student activities and athletics director. "This is completely system-wide from county and state on down. It is so much more than athletics. This impacts every single one of our classrooms and everything we do."

    Parents will get another chance to weigh in on the cuts. Additional hearings are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday nights at Luther Jackson Middle School in Falls Church.