The county school system remains trusted by a majority of parents and county residents, according to recently released survey results.
In the third-annual trust and confidence survey, 84 percent of parents and 65 percent of other county residents either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that the school system is a trustworthy public institution. The study’s 10,700 respondents included a nearly even split of parents and other residents.
The survey was distributed in September, before this year’s budget battle started. Since then, Superintendent Karen Garza has projected a shortfall of almost $100 million for the 2015 budget, leading several members of the county’s Board of Supervisors to question whether the school system is exaggerating its budget woes.
Still, coming after several years of tight budget forecasts, 57 percent of parents either agreed or strongly agreed that FCPS manages its budget responsibly.
Among non-parents, just 41 percent endorsed the school system’s fiscal responsibility, while 40 percent said they did not have enough information to make an assessment.
That lack of information proved pervasive through the survey responses.
When asked if they are informed in a timely manner of major decisions made by the school system, 79 percent of parents agreed, as opposed to 36 percent of the non-parents. And another 36 percent of non-parents said they did not have enough information to respond.
This lack of communication came up recently in regards to the school system’s expansion plans for Bailey’s Elementary School expansion. Members of the surrounding community in particular said they have not received adequate information, and school officials have promised improved communication moving forward.
The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority has been awarded $10,000 to support its field trip grant program at Hemlock Overlook Regional Park.
The field trip grant program helps schools with a high percentage of students receiving free- and reduced-price meals defray the costs of educational visits to the Clifton park. Field trips typically cost $45 per student.
In the 2012-13 school year, 11 local elementary and middle schools received grants allowing an estimated 750 students to take part in team building and environmental education activities — and try out Hemlock Overlook’s 300-foot-long zipline.
The Dominion Foundation, the charity arm of Dominion power company, has provided funding for NVPRA education efforts programs since 2009. The grant money goes through the NVRPA’s own nonprofit foundation, which focuses on raising money to support the park authority’s community outreach.
“This grant from Dominion will help hundreds of children have a positive experience that they will always remember,” said Paul Gilbert, the NVRPA executive director. “This kind of reconnection with nature can help children learn more and feel better about themselves. I can’t think of a more meaningful gift to give.”
The NVRPA field trip grant program is now accepting applications for the 2014-15 school year through Jan. 17.