Fairfax Co. schools budget cuts may affect class size, athletics

WASHINGTON — Program and service cutbacks are likely coming to Fairfax County Public Schools after the Budget Task Force recommended dozens of changes to close a funding gap.

The largest school system in the D.C. region faces a $72 million budget shortfall for the 2016-2017 school year.

In the final report, the Budget Task Force presented two scenarios to deal with the problem — $50 million in cuts and $75 million in cuts. In both plans, class sizes would increase at every level.

Freshman sports, language immersion programs and some late bus service would be eliminated. Student-athletes would be charged $200 per sport.

The most popular changes include increasing the community facility and student parking fees. Substitute teachers would be paid less and teacher contracts would be limited. Elementary school orchestra would be delayed until the fifth grade.

The recommendation to increase high school class sizes by one student per teacher would save the school system the most money — $5.4 million.

Supervisor Pat Herrity was disappointed in the task force’s review process, saying in a statement that the school staff put some of the budget off-limits, “including key areas like the supplemental retirement system, outsourcing and a review of the functions of the many ‘teachers’ that do not spend time in the classroom.”

Superintendent Karen Garza will present the proposed budget in January and a final version will be adopted in May.

Garza released a statement Monday about the recommendations.:

“It’s important for parents and all of our stakeholders to understand that the Task Force has made a recommendation and no decisions have been made. It is still up to me and the School Board to determine how to develop a budget for next school year that will support all of our operational needs. However, reductions will be unavoidable unless we receive sufficient revenue to meet our expenditure requirements. As is clear in the Task Force report, it is difficult to reach a clear community consensus on these difficult and unpleasant reductions. As I’ve said all along, we cannot cut our way to excellence.”

Read the task force recommendations:

FY 2017 Budget Task Force Recommendations

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