Schools Find More Than $9 M for FY 2014 Budget

As the Fairfax County School board stares down $162 million deficit, midyear review funds will help boost next year's beginning balance.

Fairfax County Public Schools has found an extra $9.7 million in its Fiscal Year 2013 budget, much of which school board members voted Thursday night to set aside for its FY 2014 beginning balance — a budget year in which the system faces a $162 million deficit. 

The money will increase next year's beginning balance from $41.6 million to $51.1 million. 

School board members have been waiting for the outcome of a midyear budget review since the fall, as it began to grapple with a projected deficit of $93.7 million in Fiscal Year 2014, a number that doesn't include another $68.4 million shortfall in "significant program needs."

At a joint meeting in November, about half of the $162 million the school system needs, according to budget documents.

School board members began to suggest finding savings in this year's budget that could be used to create a larger starting budget next year. 

Staff found another $2.7 million in the system's FY 2013 beginning balance after the FY 2012 final budget review, thanks to year-end and audit adjustments that include an additional $1.8 million in sales tax revenue.

The system also gained $2.9 million in additional revenue from the City of Fairfax, whose final tuition bill was $1.8 million more than budgeted, and a $1.1 million increase in grant revenue.

A total of $4.1 million in savings was found through:

  • A $2.9 million reduction in compensation accounts because the average new hire salaries were less than budgeted
  • A net increase of $1.1 million in grant expenditures largely from a larger federal award for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 
  • $1 million in savings from giving benefits to parent liaisons and multilingual interpreters
  • $0.8 million in savings for a reduction in the mandated time frame for bus inspections
  • $0.5 million less in the transfer for extended school year for special education.

The board passed a motion by Sandy Evans (Mason) on Thursday to take $0.2 million of the midyear review money and put it toward increasing funding for schools for parent liaisons, to "ensure that each school receives funding in FY 2013 that is comparable to funding received in FY 2012. 

A motion by Elizabeth Schultz (Springfield) to give up to $0.5 million in additional funding to teacher stipends and instructional materials for extra learning time for special education students failed. 

“Just because it’s more convenient to do it later and more strategically, doesn’t mean it meets student needs," said Schultz, the lone supporter of the amendment. 

But Schultz's motion to direct Superintendent Jack Dale to financially support schools in danger of canceling programs or initiatives in order to pay for hardcopy math textbooks — a response to a failed attempt to switch every Fairfax student to online math texts — passed, though it's not clear how much money that will entail. 

Patch Editor Raytevia Evans reported for this story.

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Bob Bruhns December 23, 2012 at 05:01 PM
We can't fund schools, we have a 3 Billion dollar shortfall in transportation funding, but we don't think twice about paying two times what the Dulles Rail / Silver Line project should cost. We are paying $2.5 Billion to $3 Billion too much for the Metrorail extension. Items like parking garages - and even one of the rail stations - are hidden from the project books, in order to make the cost number look a few percent smaller. Our so-called 'leaders' have no idea how to pay for all of that, as federal and state dollars are slowing to a trickle at the same time. The fiscal cliff is looming, and the road tolls are set to rise, and rise, and rise. In short, the situation is not good. Something really has to change here. Can the schools start teaching economics? Evidently our government leaders haven't learned much of it. Maybe they all came from somewhere else, where arithmetic and economics are not taught, or else they flunked all of the classes or something. One word: ridiculous.


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