October 18, 2013
Welcome to The Bottom Line, a publication produced while the budget for the next school year (FY 2015) is proposed, discussed, and approved. It contains the latest budget news, facts, dates, and rumor busters to help the FCPS community better understand the budget and the budget process.
FCPS Faces Serious Fiscal Challenges for 2014-15 School Year
Although the budget development process has barely started for next school year’s funding, Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) is facing a bottom-line budget deficit of $140.7 million in FY 2015, due to revenues that have not kept pace with growing enrollment and increasing mandatory costs. The primary drivers include:
- Student enrollment growth, projected to be an additional 2,800 students for next school year ($25 million).
- Health insurance rate increase ($27 million).
- Increased contributions to the Virginia Retirement System ($37 million).
- Loss in state revenue through the recalculation of the state funding formula, known as the LCI, and the loss of one-time incentive funding ($21 million).
FCPS also has used one-time funding for recurring expenditures, resulting in a structural deficit. The projected deficit for FY 2015 does not include any new programs, compensation increases, or other identified needs. As part of the County’s FY 2014 budget adoption, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors projected a 2 percent transfer increase to the schools for FY 2015, which equates to a $34.3 million increase. If funding from the county increases by 2 percent and a step increase for employees is added to the budget, as requested by the School Board as part of its FY 2014 budget approval process, the deficit would be $149.0 million.
“This is the most serious fiscal challenge that FCPS has ever faced,” said Superintendent Karen Garza. “We will need the best thinking of our employees, families, and community members to help us find solutions. Unfortunately, at this point, we will need to explore all options for reducing our expenditures.”
On Monday, October 21, the School Board will begin to discuss potential areas for budget cuts at its work session. Some of these areas include increasing class size, reducing central office, reducing needs-based staffing allocations, and reconfiguring staffing formulas.
“I understand that these discussions might cause some alarm among our employees and families, but at this point, we are only exploring ideas,” said Garza. “But we have to begin the discussion somewhere as we face a crisis that is not going to be easily solved. Final decisions will be made in May when we complete the budget process.”
FCPS is one of the most efficient school divisions in the Washington metropolitan region, which was confirmed in the School Efficiency Review report issued in September 2013 by an independent firm. The year-long study resulted in recommendations for a net savings of $10.8 million dollars over a five-year period, which is a small fraction of FCPS’ $2.5 billion annual budget. In addition:
- FCPS is in the middle of the pack among surrounding school districts with an annual cost per pupil of $13,472 (FY 2014). The school system’s cost per pupil has only increased $65 in the last six years ($13,407 in FY 2008 vs. $13,472 in FY 2014).
- The ratio of nonschool-based positions to students has dropped to a recent historical low of 9.0 per 1,000 students. This compares to 11.6 nonschool-based positions per 1,000 students 20 years ago.
- During the same period, school-based positions have increased from 104.0 to 120.1 per 1,000 students. This shows that FCPS' priority has been to allocate more resources to the classroom and instruction.
To learn more about the budget, a new Citizen’s Guide to Understanding the Budget is now available. Employees and citizens are encouraged to participate in the budget process by weighing in on a survey that will be posted soon on the FCPS website, and attending upcoming budget related meetings. For complete information and updates, visit the FY 2015 budget news page.
Want to Get Involved?
- Learn more at the FCPS budget website.
- Attend School Board meetings or watch them live on Red Apple 21.
- Speak at a School Board public hearing (http://www.fcps.edu/schlbd/meetings/meetings.shtml).
- Speak at a Board of Supervisors public hearing (www.fairfaxcounty.gov/bosclerk/speaker_bos.htm).