School Board State and Federal Legislative Program

Focusing on the future of education

The School Board annually adopts a legislative program to inform public officials and others of its positions on legislative policy issues of importance to the Fairfax County Public Schools. The program contains the School Board’s positions on state and federal issues of major and current significance. To help bring some focus to the most critical issues facing FCPS, the Board has identified a subset of these program positions as ”priorities.”

Fairfax County School Board 2019 Priority Positions

The Fairfax County School Board (FCSB) believes that the provision of public education is best facilitated through a strong partnership between the Commonwealth and its local school divisions; with the state being a supportive partner in the provision of locally-based public education.

State funding for public pre-K, elementary, and secondary education should adequately and appropriately support high quality instructional and support programs for all students in the Commonwealth; with the state fairly sharing responsibility with each locality for the true costs of implementing those programs.  While the state has a role in the determination of what constitutes high quality programs and in the measurement of those programs’ performance, the supervision of schools and the associated flexibility to determine the most appropriate policy or school governance approaches to implementing such instructional and operational programs should remain with local school boards as delineated in the Virginia Constitution.

To these ends, the Fairfax County School Board’s priorities for 2019 include:

 

Flexibility

 

  • School Calendar -- Returning control over school calendars to local school boards, including the flexibility for local school boards to choose to start school either before or after Labor Day based on local priorities and needs
  • Assessment Reforms -- Continued reductions in the number and impact of mandated, standardized assessments on students, teachers, and schools; shifting toward a more balanced assessment system, including performance based assessments, which informs instruction and which allows for multiple pathways to earn a diploma
  • Environmental Sustainability -- Supporting efforts for incentives, opportunities, and targeted goals for the expansion of renewable energy and energy efficiency

 

Funding

 

  • Support Cap -- Eliminating the state’s arbitrary cap on funding for support positions, which would help more directly link state funding with actual local staffing needs and costs.  In the absence of full elimination, positions related to direct student services and to student mental health and safety -- such as school social workers and school psychologists -- should be shifted out from under the cap (Fairfax lost approx. $26M in each year of the biennium when the cap was first implemented in FY 2010)
  • Salaries -- Funding support to increase instructional and support position salaries which better reflects the true costs to localities of such increases (the average salaries used in state funding formulas to determine state reimbursements are substantially lower than actual Fairfax average salaries)
  • Special Needs Populations Funding -- Funding support targeted to individual schools with high concentrations of and school divisions with significant overall numbers of students in poverty, English learners, and students receiving special education services (Fairfax’s special needs populations would each by themselves rank among the top 12 Virginia school divisions’ total student populations)
  • Cost of Competing -- Completing the restoration of the state’s Cost of Competing adjustment for support positions, which helps to adjust state funding to account for the higher costs in the Northern Virginia wage market (most recent estimates show that Fairfax could receive approximately $13.5M in additional state funding with full restoration)
  • Pre-K Funding -- Increasing state per-pupil funding for pre-K programming and for related capital facilities.

 

Fairfax County School Board 2018 Federal Priority Positions

The Fairfax County School Board (FCSB) supports full and adequate funding to implement federal mandates, such as those found in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), as well as broad flexibility to empower states and localities to fulfill mandated program requirements. 

Full funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

  • In 1975, the federal government made a commitment to fund 40 percent of “excess” special education costs, based on the assumption that the cost of educating children with disabilities was twice the average cost measured as the national average per pupil expenditure (APPE) of educating other children; but it has never come close to fulfilling that commitment
  • Funding for IDEA covered only about only 10.8 percent of FCPS’ special education related costs for our approximately 27,000 students receiving special education services in FY 2019 (FY 2017 federal funding covered about 14.6 percent of the national APPE, so Fairfax’s percentage of costs covered is even lower than the national average)
  • Fully funding IDEA to cover 40% of FCPS’s special education related costs would have resulted in an additional $82.9 million in federal funding for Fairfax in FY 2019

Full funding for the federal Impact Aid program

  • Impact Aid provides federal resources to help offset the local impacts of educating Fairfax’s approximately 19,000 military and federally connected students, as well as those associated with the presence of federal tax exempt properties
  • When Impact Aid is not fully funded, allocations to localities are prorated based on a formula which is heavily weighted by the overall percentage of military and federally connected students in a jurisdiction
  • In FY 2019, Impact Aid funding covered only 11.2 percent of Fairfax’s calculated maximum basic support payment to educate military and federally connected students (only approx. $169 per federally connected student)
  • Fully funding Impact Aid, based on current funding formulas, would have resulted in approximately an additional $22 million in federal funding for Fairfax in FY 2019

School Board Legislative Liaisons