Teachers appeal to fund Fairfax County schools

WASHINGTON — As Fairfax County leaders decide how much money county departments will receive, teachers are appealing for more funding in 2016 and describing the hardships that come with living on their salaries.

The appeals on behalf of the school system ranged from enraged to tearful at a public hearing Tuesday.

“I can’t afford to live in the county that I love and I teach in on my salary,” teacher Precious Crabtree told the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, her voice trembling with emotion.

The 15-year educator described money-saving strategies she’s resorted to such as giving up her dog, clipping coupons, becoming frugal with groceries and limiting cable and Internet service.

“Even though I am regarded as an exceptional teacher and a leader in my profession, I don’t make enough to live on my salary without a second job,” Crabtree said, also citing numbers of awards and honors she’s received.

Before launching into a theatrically enthusiastic appeal for school funding, Fairfax County Federation of Teachers President Steve Greenburg told the supervisors he represents 4,500 disgusted educators, “who will soon be lashing out with great vengeance and furious anger.”

Greenburg said the county’s failure to fully fund previous school system budget requests led to staff cuts and larger class sizes that he suggested would hurt county home values and give quality educators incentive to leave the county.

“No one should give money to any politicians running for office around here for the next six months. Give the money to the PTAs or other parts of the schools that will be struggling because the Supervisors can’t fund them,” Greenburg said.

Speaking on behalf of the Fairfax County Council PTA, Debbie Kilpatrick described members of groups intended to be advocates for students having to increasingly act as fundraisers. She described PTA efforts to buy technology equipment, computer software, classroom supplies, playground and physical education equipment, as well as staff development materials.

Kilpatrick says parental investments of time and money save the county millions a year.

“And yet the school district still is having to make cuts,” she said.

A survey of county PTA leaders shows their highest priority is for county leaders to identify a dedicated funding stream for schools that doesn’t involve raising property taxes.

Upcoming budget public hearings before the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will be held at the following times:

Wednesday, April 8 and Thursday,  April 9 at 1 p.m.
Fairfax County Government Center
12000 Government Center Parkway

Speakers are encouraged to register in advance here, or by calling 703-324-3151.

Participants have three minutes to speak and should bring 15 copies of any relevant materials to hand out.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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