New FCPS budget proposed for 2016-17 school year

Latest proposals do not include cuts to programs


Dr. Karen Garza, FCPS Superintendent speaking at her induction in 2013.

Superintendent Dr. Karen Garza proposed a solution to the counties looming budget crisis on Jan. 7 at Luther Jackson Middle School in Falls Church.

The budget proposed by Garza is estimated to cost the county a total of $2.7 billion, and is focused on reinvesting in schools and reversing the impact of substantial cuts from previous years. Cuts to student programs and an increase in fees for testing and playing sports were not included in her proposal to the school board.

“I think Dr. Garza and her committee are trying to do the right thing, but I think that there are other things that they need to consider,” Resource teacher Hassan Mims said. “Her proposal is going to make an impact in the right direction, but at the same I think there are other things they still have to streamline.”

The budget, if approved, will not be put into action until the 2016-17 school year and will hopefully help to preseve the excellence in the county, as well as help to subside the many monetary woes county wide.

The proposal prioritizes in investing in employees, putting an emphasis on increasing teacher salaries and decreasing classroom sizes to focus more on the individual student.

Currently, teachers in Fairfax County make less than teachers doing the same job in surrounding counties. This has lead to a decrease in the amount of young staff members that apply to work in Fairfax County each year. The proposed budget includes $40 million for teacher salaries. Raising their pay to a liveable wage so that the teachers that donate so much of their time and talent to FCPS can make what they deserve.

“Garza’s plan is a step in the right direction,” freshman Hoang Tran said. “Our teachers do so much for us and should get a pay raise, but her plan involves the county spending more money which won’t help to solve the lack of money in the budget.”

Lack of funding is not a new issue in FCPS. The county has faced a budget crisis for a number of years and has had to to make cuts every year to deal with the money shortage.

Class sizes have grown in recent years, putting the excellence that Fairfax County is known for at risk. To resolve this, Garza’s proposal includes decreasing the number of students in classes, especially in elementary schools, to provide students with a higher level of education.

“We are one of the wealthiest counties in the nation and I value education because a democratic populous relies on a well-educated republic,” Biology teacher Caroline Gergel said.

The county will rely more heavily on the state for funding with this new proposal in order to save programs and teachers that are vital to the county.

This is the first time in seven years that a budget proposal hasn’t included major cuts. The proposal is Garza’s attempt at preserving the academic excellence in the county.

Jan. 25 will mark the beginning of public hearings on the proposed budget.