Proposed Fairfax Co. school budget would boost security, bring officers to elementary schools

Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Michelle Reid unveiled her proposed $3.5 billion budget for fiscal 2024 on Thursday night, which includes funding for elementary school security and a 3% cost-of-living raise for all employees.

Reid’s proposed budget allocates $400,000 for “safety and school security officers” to bolster safety at elementary schools. Currently, elementary schools in Virginia’s largest school system don’t have school resource officers, a county spokeswoman said.

The county is budgeting for at least one officer to be assigned to elementary schools in each of its five regions to be what Reid called a “responsive officer.”

The plans, Reid said, are “a start at actually beginning to provide responsive coverage to our elementary schools by region.” Fairfax County is also making progress on ensuring every school has vestibules at its entrance.

Elementary school safety was thrust into the spotlight after last spring’s shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

Parent Matthew Schempp urged the county to take action to improve safety at elementary schools.

“In Fairfax County, we seem to have adopted a strategy of hope. We hope it won’t be our school next time, our kids. Certainly, resources are finite and Fairfax County police have many responsibilities, but as someone who has witnessed such carnage in person, I’m here to tell you hope is a bad plan.”

The proposed budget also includes $1 million for annual employee background checks. The county vowed to make changes after a Glasgow Middle School counselor remained employed despite a conviction for solicitation of a minor and being ordered to register as a sex offender.

Reid has also allocated $3.5 million for cybersecurity, and $15 million for what the county is calling an “equitable access literacy plan,” which it says will focus on the science of reading approach to reading instruction.

The budget accounts for funding cross country and track at middle schools, and includes a 3% market scale raise for all employees.

A school board work session on the budget is scheduled for next week, and a public hearing is scheduled for Jan. 23.

More information about the superintendent’s proposed budget is available online.

Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for WTOP. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.

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