Fairfax County School Board Adopts FY 2021 Advertised Budget
Fairfax County School Board has adopted the FY 2021 Advertised Budget of $3.2 billion—which focuses on employee compensation—at its business meeting on February 6. The FY 2021 Advertised Budget represents an increase of $172.2 million, or 5.8 percent, over the FY 2020 Approved Budget. The Board voted to defer proposed amendments to the budget until its May 21 meeting, when it is scheduled to adopt the FY 2021 Approved Budget.
“This budget enables us to continue to make the salaries of our teachers and other educational professionals more competitive in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area,” says School Board Chair Karen Corbett Sanders. “We are acutely aware of the critical role FCPS teachers play in the lives of our students, and the importance of fairly compensating our professional educators. Ensuring that a great teacher is in front of every child in every classroom will lead to great outcomes for our students. We will continue to prioritize the successful recruitment and retention of the very best teachers.”
The FY 2021 Advertised Budget includes $50.1 million for a step increase for eligible employees, $15.4 million for additional salary scale enhancements, and $25.3 million for a 1.0 percent market scale adjustment. The FY 2021 budget also includes $2.7 million for the second year of a three-year plan to bring the salaries of instructional assistants and public health training assistants to 50 percent of salaries for teachers with bachelor's degrees. Other proposed expenditures include $28.8 million for enrollment and differentiated instructional delivery based on student learning needs, including $3.5 million to support schools with greater numbers of students eligible for free or reduced-price meals; $13.3 million for projected health insurance increases; and $15.6 million for employer contribution rate increases for the Virginia Retirement System (VRS).
“A total of $31.4 million for employee benefits is included in the budget increase request. These are required costs that FCPS incurs based on its obligations under state mandate or current health plan contracts,” added Corbett Sanders. “The Board’s Advertised Budget reflects what we value as a school system and community. Great teachers, administrators, and support employees are the foundation of the FCPS promise to our stakeholders.”
The FY 2021 Advertised Budget requests a County transfer increase of $89.7 million, or 4.2 percent, primarily to fund compensation and benefit increases, and to cover the costs associated with enrollment increases and differentiated instructional delivery based on student need.
The FY 2021 Advertised Budget allocates $601.6 million for special education programs, an increase of 7.5 percent over the FY 2020 Approved Budget, to support nearly 1,000 additional special education students by funding teachers, assistants, and attendants. The funding also recognizes a shift toward greater levels of resource-intensive services provided to special education students. A total of $3.5 million is designated for special education chair positions at elementary schools with large special education populations. The new positions will support special education compliance and procedures such as local screening committees and IEP meetings, as well as instruction and behavior-crisis management.
Other proposed funding initiatives include $4.0 million for FCPSOn, FCPS’ one-to-one computer initiative, to expand to middle schools and maintain ongoing laptop lease obligations at high schools; $0.3 million for substance abuse prevention specialists to support the equity plan for discipline policies and practices; and $0.3 million, which would include a recruitment specialist to launch Call Me MISTER, a nationally-recognized program designed to increase the pool of available male teachers from broader and more diverse backgrounds.
The FY 2021 budget also includes $6.0 million for School Board initiatives for possible items such as: on-time graduation coordinators to support dropout prevention; additional school counselors; funding for per-pupil allocations to address student activity fund equity; or other initiatives as determined by the School Board prior to May approval of the budget.
The School Board will present its Advertised Budget to the County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, April 14; hold a work session on Thursday, April 30; and hold a public hearing on Monday, May 12 (and May 13, if needed), followed by a budget work session on Thursday, May 14. Adoption of the FY 2021 Approved Budget by the School Board is scheduled for May 21.
Prior to the February 6 business meeting, the Board considered a forum topic brought forward by Vice Chair Tamara Derenak Kaufax and member at-large Karen Keys-Gamarra to rename Robert E. Lee High School. The Board agreed to initiate the renaming process as outlined in FCPS Regulation 8170.
“This is not an attempt to erase history,” said Vice Chair Derenak Kaufax. “We understand Robert E. Lee is a major figure in Virginia history, but the legacy of Lee and the Confederacy belongs in our history books and our museums, not on the outside of a Fairfax County public school. Confederate values do not align with our community today.”
The Board also approved a second forum topic to amend the annual audit plan to require the auditor general to address ongoing concerns about ensuring Individualized Educational Program (IEP) compliance, inclusion, professional development, and reporting affecting the delivery of special education services. The Board is requesting the auditor general to recommend an appropriate approach to the timetable to address these concerns.
Note: For more information, contact the FCPS Office of Budget Services at 571-423-3600.