Fairfax Co. Schools Interim Superintendent Proposed $130 Million Budget Increase

WASHINGTON — The interim superintendent for Fairfax County Public Schools has proposed a 4.9 increase for next fiscal year’s school budget over this year.

Interim Superintendent Steve Lockard said in a news release that the proposed budget focuses on two key priorities from the FCPS strategic plan — employee compensation and classroom resources.

The proposed increase for fiscal 2018 is $130.4 million over the budget for fiscal 2017, which is half over. The Fairfax County school system has more than 188,000 students, close to 200 schools and centers and about 28,000 employees.

The proposal includes $44 million for an average step increase of 2.5 percent for all eligible employees, an ongoing investment of $33.2 million as part of a multi-year plan to move FCPS teachers closer to the regional market average for teacher pay and $41.2 million for anticipated increases in health insurance and contributions to the retirement systems, the release said.

“This proposed budget reflects funding only what we believe to be necessary to sustain the excellence we expect in Fairfax County,” said Lockard. “Providing fair compensation especially for our teachers, who are at the heart of our mission, is my priority in this budget.”

The fiscal 2018 budget includes an additional $10 million to cover the cost of enrollment and demographic changes. The school system projects an additional 1,932 students over this school year, according to the release.

“Our community has confirmed time and again that our schools are a vital, valued, integral part of Fairfax County. We remain hopeful that once again our funding partners will make the necessary investments in our teachers and in our students,” said Lockard. “However, if revenues don’t meet the basic needs of our system, then we may need to consider fee increases as well as reducing, eliminating, and redesigning programs and services for the 2017-18 school year.”

The Fairfax Education Association released a statement Friday stating its support for a majority of Lockard’s proposed budget and expressing some concerns regarding benefits for teachers.

“We are generally in support of this proposed budget and any budgetary steps to keep our school system world-class; however, we have some reservations,” said FEA President Kevin Hickerson.

The FEA is concerned about potential changes to the school system’s supplemental retirement program, saying it only changes the makeup of the compensation package rather than providing a more competitive compensation overall.

They also said that the budget does not address the problems caused by a decrease in retiree substitute teacher pay last year.

“We cannot provide the level of education our students deserve if we are short-staffed, stretched thin, and losing employees to surrounding areas,” Hickerson said.

The presentation of the Proposed Budget is the starting point of the budget process.

The Fairfax County School Board will hold a work session on Jan. 23 and public hearings on the budget on Jan. 30, and Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, if needed. An additional budget work session is scheduled for Feb. 2. The School Board will adopt its Advertised Budget on Feb. 9 and present to the Board of Supervisors on April 4. The School Board will adopt the Approved Budget in May.

Information about speaking at a budget public hearing and a list of relevant budget dates, along with updates and budget news, is available on the school system’s website.

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