Hitting Home: Fairfax Schools Cuts
- Increasing general education class size by one student: Savings of $19.5 million and would cut 271.5 positions.
- Increasing special-education class size: Savings of $6.3 million and would cut 70 positions.
- Cut teacher assistants from kindergarten classrooms: Savings of $6.3 million and would cut 419.4 positions.
- Cut “Foreign Language in the Elementary Schools” program: Savings of $5.5 million and would cut 62.5 positions.
- Cut assistant principal positions: Savings of $1.3 million and would cut 12 positions.
- Cut all elementary school instructional assistants: Savings of $10.2 million and would cut 306 positions.
- Reduce number of school counselor positions: Savings of $10.2 million and would cut 121.9 positions.
- Reduce all employee contracts by one day: Savings of $9.1 million.
- Furlough all employees one day: Savings of $7.9 million.
- Charge $100 per-student, per-sport athletic participation fee: Revenue of $1.8 million.
And the above still does not add up to avoid the projected $140 million budget deficit.
- Smaller Class Size
- Later start time for Fairfax County High School students
- Retain our teachers by keeping up with area pay
- More time for teaching, less focus on testing
- Online books need to be discouraged, not encouraged.
- Please find a way to raise teacher salaries. We've had pay freezes that equate to over 100,000 over 12 years. Demoralizing.
- Add foreign language to Elementary and Middle school
- Reduce the summer vacation by two weeks, and extend winter and spring breaks by one week.
Comparing the above list against the proposed cuts, the dichotomy is so clear. To understand budget deficits, one should look at not only the expenses, but also revenues. To understand the situation in Fairfax county, the following graph is useful. This shows where the money for educating children in Fairfax county comes from:
|Figure copied from|
The $140 million budget deficit is about 6% of the annual budget of the Fairfax public school systems. Looking at the above figure, if Fairfax county simply receives a fair share of Virginia's education budget, it is more than enough. The above chart shows that Fairfax county is in fact subsidizing the public school education for the rest of Virginia. This is not necessarily wrong. In fact, it is good that the county does not take that much from the state. In this manner, poorer districts are able to receive greater support from the state government.
Still, the proposed cuts may harm the Fairfax public school system. What do we have to do? What can we do? Before one answers these questions, the following reflection is helpful. While the rest of the country and the world are trying so many ways to have an educational system on par with those of Finland, Korea and Singapore, there is one county in Northern Virginia that has reached that achievement. The United States has spent over $15 billion just in the past eight years on tests, with very little to show in terms of improved education results. Education spending per pupil in Fairfax county is not exceptional. It is in the middle:
|Above table copied from|