photo courtesy of facebook.com/SaveFCPS
With the recent #saveFCPS campaign launched by Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) Superintendent Karen Garza, we were surprised to see that FCPS would face a $7 million deficit in fiscal year (FY) 2016. Where is this $7 million deficit coming from, and how are we going to deal with it? We decided to look into the FCPS and State of Virginia published budget documents for FY2016 to find the root of the problem.
FCPS has an approved budget of $2.6 billion for FY2016, with a 2.2% increase from the FY2015 budget. The problem is that FCPS has grown by more than $54 million, and even though Fairfax County has increased funding to FCPS by $57 million from FY2015, the county is still $14 million short of the amount that FCPS requested in their FY2016 advertised budget.
Additionally, this under-funding of the budget comes at the same time that the Board of Supervisors of Fairfax County announced that they would raise the salary of the board members by $20,000 per year and $25,000 per year for the chairman of the Board. For most board members, this increases their salary from $75,000 to $95,000 per year, and for the chairman it is an increase from $75,000 to $100,000. It should be noted that for counties in Virginia, the next highest salary for a member of the Board of Supervisors is $53,900, little more than half of what will be paid to Fairfax County Board of Supervisors members.
In order to help FCPS, however, the Virginia General Assembly amended the state budget to provide another $9.9 million to FCPS and this helped offset the County shortfall. This $9.9 million was provided both through increased revenue from the state (money given to FCPS) and also through decreased expenditure requirements (in this case the VA retirement system rate). However, due to other increases in required expenditures, mainly School Board Salaries and Spring Enrollment and Demographic Updates, FCPS faced a deficit of more than just the $14 million County shortfall, and even with the $9.9 million adjustment by the state, FCPS still faces a $7.6 million shortfall for next year.