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Thursday, January 10, 2013

FCPS Superintendent Proposes $2.5 Billion Budget for FY 2014

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) Superintendent Jack D. Dale has released the school system’s FY 2014 Proposed Budget of $2.5 billion, a net increase of 2.6 percent, or $62.7 million, from the FY 2013 Approved Budget. The FY 2014 budget includes funding for 292.5 additional positions in schools to cover the cost of membership growth—a projected increase of 2,857 students to a total enrollment of 184,393—and changes in student demographics. 

“A long-term investment in education makes the county attractive to businesses, enables our students to find good jobs, and empowers citizens to reinvest in their community,” says Dale. The proposed budget includes a transfer increase from the County of $92.4 million over the FY 2013 Approved Budget.  The majority of the budget, 88 percent, is dedicated to employee compensation; the proposed budget also includes $49.1 million in reductions and savings.

Student enrollment growth has increased from 169,538 in FY 2009 to the projected 184,393 in FY 2014 – an increase of nearly 15,000 students in the past five years. “Recently, our incoming classes have been significantly larger than classes at the higher grade levels,” explained Dale. “This has ramifications across the budget as we hire additional instructional personnel and supplies to support these students.” The projected enrollment includes 16 percent of students enrolled in English for speakers of other languages (ESOL), 13.8 percent eligible for special education services, and 27.3 percent eligible for free and reduced-price meals.

“In addition to enrollment, we face a number of unavoidable expenditures this year,” he added. “Increases in health insurance rates, local retirement rates, and the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) employer-employee cost shift all have to be included in this year’s budget. While we have included a one percent market scale adjustment for all employees along with a one percent decrease in the employee contribution to the local retirement plan, many items remain unfunded, including step increases for employees, and additional support for students in the form of social workers and psychologists.  We realize that budget challenges are continuing, and have developed this budget with that in mind.” 

Since FY 2009, school-based positions have increased by 7.9 percent, while nonschool-based positions decreased by 5.8 percent. The vast majority of positions—93 percent—are in classrooms and schools, directly serving the needs of students. Among the ten Washington, D.C., metropolitan area school systems participating in the Washington Area Boards of Education Guide, FCPS has the lowest percentage of leadership team and management positions at .7 percent.

This year, FCPS is participating in the State Efficiency Review Program, which will help identify potential savings and highlight the district’s best practices. FCPS requested this audit and was placed on the state’s waiting list in 2009. A final report is anticipated in late spring.

Citizens are encouraged to participate in the budget process by attending an upcoming public hearing, work session, or School Board meeting. Complete information is available online.

For additional information, visit the budget office online.

Note: For more information, contact Kristen Michael at 571-423-3600.