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 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 2020 State 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 determining what constitutes high quality programs and measuring the performance of those programs, 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 2020 legislative priorities of the Fairfax County School Board include:
- Biennial Re-benchmarking – Fully fund the biennial re-benchmark of Direct Aid to Public Education funding. Re-benchmarking updates the input costs in state funding formulas, separate from any policy changes.
- Pre-K – Increase state per-pupil funding for pre-K programming and related facilities costs.
- Support Cap – Eliminate the state’s arbitrary cap on support position funding. In the absence of full elimination, positions related to direct student services and student mental health and safety (such as school social workers and school psychologists) should be removed from under the cap and returned to being funded based on prevailing practice. Fairfax has lost approximately $26M in state funding each year since this cap was first implemented in FY 2010.
- Salaries – Fund instructional and support position salaries to better reflect 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 averages.
- Special Needs Populations – Fund 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. Each category of Fairfax’s special needs populations would rank among the top 12 total student populations of Virginia school divisions.
- Cost of Competing – Fully restore the Cost of Competing adjustment for support positions. Fairfax loses approximately $13.5M in state funding in the absence of full restoration.
- English Learners and Accountability – Encourage data collection on students with limited or interrupted formal education (“SLIFE” students) to help standardize a statewide definition for this group and determine how to appropriately incorporate these students in state accreditation measures. These could include a standard for incorporating language learners into state measures of non-academic student performance data like dropout rates similar to the standard currently used to incorporate academic performance in state accountability measures.
- School Quality Indicator – Encourage the Virginia Board of Education to consider a different indicator of school quality or student success than chronic absenteeism.
- Environmental Sustainability – Support incentives, opportunities, and targeted goals for expanding renewable energy and energy efficiency and remove existing barriers to implementing sustainability programs.
- Assessment Reforms – Reduce 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 inform instruction.
Fairfax County School Board 2020 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) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), as well as broad flexibility to empower states and localities to fulfill mandated program requirements. To these ends, the Fairfax County School Board's federal priorities for 2020 include:
- 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 over 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 2020, Impact Aid funding covered only 13.3 percent of Fairfax’s calculated maximum basic support payment to educate military and federally connected students (only approximately $169 per federally connected student)
- Fully funding Impact Aid, based on current funding formulas, would have resulted in approximately an additional $21.5 million in federal funding for Fairfax in FY 2020.
View the 2020 School Board State and Federal Legislative Program
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.