Fairfax Co. hopes to squeeze more cash out of Richmond for schools

WASHINGTON — After a bitter and public battle over school funding, Fairfax County governor and school leaders are trying to patch things up, but their solution of finding budget relief from state resources may run into roadblocks.

In a joint statement Tuesday, Fairfax County Board Chair Sharon Bulova and Fairfax County Schools Superintendent Karen Garza said they have agreed to work together as a team to address potential budget shortfalls for both the school system and the county that they blame, in part, on “inequitable state funding formulas for education.”

Garza had released several strong public statements attacking the board, and claiming the school system would face shortfalls in future years. She estimates the school could see a potential $100 million budget deficit for the 2016-2017 school year.

During the vote on the 2015-2016 budget plan last week, several school board members called for more funding from state government in Richmond, or at least more authority to raise taxes or fees at the local level.

But, asked about the suggestions by WTOP on Wednesday, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe pointed to education funding provided in this year’s state budget, and appeared lukewarm to any changes.

“We’re where we are today, trying to handle the budget for the entire commonwealth. Everybody wants more money from Richmond. We do the best we can with what we have,” he says.

“I want to invest in education. But everybody’s got to do their own part,” McAuliffe adds.

McAuliffe deferred any reaction to the school board members’ calls for new local authority to raise money, citing the fact that any proposal would have to go through the General Assembly.

Fairfax County Public Schools is the largest school system in Virginia and the largest in the metro area.

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