Fairfax Co. School Board OKs $3.4B Budget as It Waits for Fall Enrollment Numbers

FCPS lost about 11,000 students during the pandemic, and that loss lowers states funding

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Teachers in the D.C. area's largest school system are getting a pay raise -- but there's a lingering effect of the pandemic that could leave Fairfax County schools needing to eliminate some teacher positions.

The Fairfax County School Board passed a $3.4 billion budget for the upcoming fiscal year. It's mostly good news: Parents will be glad to hear the school system will now pick up the tab for some technology fees.

"No more fees," said Scott Brabrand, Fairfax County schools superintendent. "We know that technology is going to be an indispensable part of our students' learning in the future."

But how many students will Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) have in the future? That's the multimillion dollar question that can't be answered until the fall, when the school system will know its enrollment number.

FCPS lost about 11,000 students during the pandemic, and that loss lowers states funding.

"We're on an all-out campaign across our school system to bring our families back," Brabrand said.

While enrollment numbers are down, the superintendent is optimistic that enrollment numbers will return to pre-pandemic levels by the fall.

Brabrand says less funding could mean larger class sizes and cutting teacher positions. This budget already cuts more than 33 reserve staff members, but it adds 50 new positions for teachers of English language learners and 18 new social workers and psychologists.

Teachers will also get a 2% pay raise.

"It's not enough, but it's going to lay the foundation for more in the upcoming years and we're grateful for everything that our teachers and staff have done," Braband said.

And what teachers are still being asked to do -- they've been offered extra money to help with summer school.

Staffing levels aren't where they need to be yet, but Brabrand is confident Fairfax will be able to offer summer programs for the students who need it most.

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