I was a bit disappointed in the recently released advertised budget from Fairfax County. While it mentions “protecting our product” and “an outstanding school system,” the funding provided to our schools is inconsistent with those objectives.
Through no fault of its own, FCPS has been slammed with staggering enrollment additions — nearly 15,000 new students in the past five years — as well as state mandated changes to the VRS which forced them to provide salary increases to offset these required contributions by the teachers. The county has provided themselves, in their budget, the funding to address the increases to their health and pension obligations, but has failed to provide FCPS funding to take care of their employees. This is unfair.
The school system cannot withstand inadequate funding. We have 1,000 preschoolers, many from high poverty homes, on a waiting list with no funding in sight. Our class sizes are beyond acceptable and our teachers are being asked to do too much. Supply budgets have been cut causing teachers to spend their own money on classroom essentials. We have PTAs spending money on items like toilet seats because the maintenance budget has been decimated.
The proposed two cent increase in property taxes will translate to an average increase of $262 per homeowner and will raise about $112 million in revenue. Unfortunately, the county is not sharing enough of this additional revenue for education. The Board of Supervisors has often criticized FCPS for not trimming their administrative budget enough and yet The BOS budget has ballooned 16 percent in just two years and the County Executive office budget has grown 14 percent.
There isn’t enough space here to address the spending on economic development. Do we really need offices in Bangalore, Seoul and Tel Aviv in order to attract businesses to Fairfax County?
Most taxpayers will agree that education deserves to be our top priority — what a pity this most recent budget does not reflect that.
Janet Otersen Springfield