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A FOCUS ON THE CITY OF FAIRFAX SCHOOLSJanuary 2010

The FY 2011 Proposed Budget

By Janice Miller, chairman
jmiller@fairfaxva.gov

When Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Jack Dale presented the FY 2011 budget earlier this month, few were surprised to see the dramatic cuts. We have been hearing for months that next year's budget will be worse than this year's – and it looks like this prediction was right.

So in our newsletter this month, our City Schools Superintendent Ann Monday will provide us with an overview of the cuts we'll likely see next year. You'll also read about the impact of the potential cuts from the four principals who run the City of Fairfax schools. Simply scroll down for that information.

Before you do, I'd like to share some of the thoughts that FCPS' Dr. Dale wants the community to know:

  • The proposed budget of $2.3 billion includes $104.8 million in program cuts and cost avoidances and $3.4 million in increased and new fees. The cuts and fees reflected community and employee feedback, as well as School Board priorities.
  • These cuts will have a long-term and far-reaching impact on maintaining our high student achievement and excellence for which FCPS is widely known and respected.
  • This is not a budget based on FCPS' actual needs. That budget would require a $248.4 million transfer from the county. It is a budget based on the fiscal realities of dismal local and state economic conditions.
  • Without a needs-based budget, we face: decreasing student achievement, diminishing academic excellence, losing high caliber teachers, eliminating innovative programs, not meeting individual student needs, tarnishing FCPS' reputation, and negatively impacting business relocations.

Read the official press release containing more details here:
www.cityoffairfaxschools.org/news

For more information visit:
www.fcps.edu


What the Budget Cuts Mean For Our Schools

By Ann Monday, Superintendent
amonday@fairfaxva.gov

During these tough economic times, schools cannot be immune from budget cuts. In FY 2011, Fairfax County Public Schools will have to make some very hard decisions in order to balance its budget.

Having already made significant budget reductions in the current year, while having more students enrolled, the choices are getting increasingly difficult – and more likely to have a direct impact on students.

The Fairfax City School Board has an agreement with Fairfax County for the operation of its schools. Therefore, the County budget is of great interest to the City Board since the decisions made will impact City students.

In this issue of Close-Up Online, we give readers the information needed to understand the budget process in Fairfax County Public Schools, the potential cuts being considered, and the ways that City and County citizens can voice their opinions about the school system budget.

FCPS Superintendent Dr. Jack Dale

On January 7, Dr. Jack Dale, the Superintendent of the Fairfax County Public Schools, released his proposed budget for FY2011 of $2.3 billion, which includes $104.8 million in cuts and cost avoidances, $3.4 million in new and increased fees, and a projected enrollment growth of 1,760 students.

The proposed budget includes a class size increase of one student, the elimination of the Foreign Language in the Elementary Schools (FLES) program, general education summer school, all high school freshman sports, and 594 positions, including 81 in central office support for schools. The proposed budget also includes no salary increases for employees for a second consecutive year.

Dr. Dale explained: "For the third straight year, I have submitted a budget that includes major cuts due to dismal local and state economic conditions. These cuts will have a long-term and far-reaching impact on maintaining our high student achievement and excellence for which FCPS is widely known and respected. Student achievement remains our main focus, and while we have directed our diminishing resources to support students and staff members working directly with our students, there is no doubt that many programs which parents and students have come to expect will be gone."

Other fees and budget cuts that could impact City Schools include:

  • New fees for athletic participation ($100 per student per Virginia High School League sport); fees of $75 per Advanced Placement (AP) test and the actual cost of the PSAT test; and an increase in community use building revenue.
  • In addition to eliminating all freshman sports, two additional sports–winter cheerleading and indoor track–will be eliminated along with the drill team coaching supplement, and swim and dive team practices will be reduced by 50 percent.
  • Operating fund support for behind-the-wheel driver's education will be eliminated. Support departments will again undergo significant budget reductions, averaging 20 percent over the past three years.

To prevent more damaging cuts, Dr. Dale is requesting a county transfer increase of $57.8 million to preserve full-day kindergarten, elementary band and strings, elementary foreign language immersion, and to avoid further increases in class sizes for general and advanced academic education, including Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology.

The potential budget cuts could affect our schools in significant ways. Below you will learn what the possible cuts could mean for City schools next year. I am confident that the City Schools will continue to do what is best for your students, but these budget reductions will make a difference. Don't hesitate to send me an email with questions: amonday@fairfaxva.gov.

Make Your Opinions Known

It is important that parents and others in the community who have a stake in the quality of our schools make their opinions known.

CALENDAR

We invite you to join us for upcoming School Board Meetings:

FEBRUARY 1, 7:30 p.m.
Regular School Board Meeting #7

Location: City Hall
10455 Armstrong Street, Fairfax VA

  • Presentation of VSBA Certificates of Appreciation to School Board Members
  • Citizen Participation; Student Representative Report from Jonathan Earley
  • Presentation by Providence Elementary Principal Jesse Kraft
  • Action Items: Approval of Minutes from January 4; Approval of Funds for All Night Graduation Party
  • Superintendent Ann Monday to present other items for information


FEBRUARY 22, 7:30 p.m.
Work Session #5

Location: Fairfax High School
3501 Rebel Run, Fairfax, VA

  • FCPS Instructional Updates: Peter Noonan and Kim Dockery
  • The New Model for School Counseling: Peter Noonan
  • Review FY2011 City Council Budget Presentation: Ann Monday
  • Budget Review/City Council Information: Chairman Janice Miller

Coming Up in the next issue of Close-Up online...

February 2010: BEST PRACTICES

Peter Noonan, FCPS' Assistant Superintendent for Instruction, and his colleague Kim Dockery, FCPS Assistant Superintendent for Special Services, will talk about Best Practices for Teaching and Learning.

Dates to remember:

Stay on top of the FY 2011 Budget debate:

January 7 Dr. Dale Releases FY 2011 Proposed Budget

January 11 FCPS School Board Budget Work Session

January 25 & 26 FCPS School Board Budget Public Hearings

January 28 FCPS School Board Budget Work Session

February 4 FCPS School Board Adopts FY 2011 Advertised Budget

February 23 County Executive Releases FY 2011 Budget

March 9 County Board of Supervisors Advertises Tax Rate

April 6-8 Board of Supervisors Budget Public Hearings

April 6 FCPS School Board presents budget to Board of Supervisors

April 27 Board of Supervisors approves County Budget, tax rate resolution and transfer amount to schools

May 11 & 12 FCPS School Board Budget Public Hearings

May 13 FCPS School Board Budget Work Session

May 20 FCPS School Board adopts Approved Budget

Contact Us

City of Fairfax School Board
schoolboard@fairfaxva.gov

Janice Miller, Chairman
703 691-1748
jmiller@fairfaxva.gov

Jon Buttram, Vice Chairman
703 385-4643
jbuttram@fairfaxva.gov

Julie Knight
703 691-3406
jknight@fairfaxva.gov

Elisa Lueck
703 385-7911
elueck@fairfaxva.gov

Toby Sorensen
703 591-5899
tsorensen@fairfaxva.gov

Jonathan Earley, Student Representative

City School Board Staff:

Superintendent Ann Monday
703 293-7132
amonday@fairfaxva.gov

Lynda L. Pierce, Clerk of the Board
703 293-7132
lpierce@fairfaxva.gov

Hope Katz Gibbs, Director of Communications
703 346-6975
hgibbs@fairfaxva.gov

Daniels Run Elementary

Daniels Run Elementary
3705 Old Lee Highway
Fairfax, VA 22030
703.279.8400
fcps.edu/DanielsRunES

Will The Budget Cuts Affect Quality?

By Kathy Mullenix, Principal
Daniels Run Elementary School

Having been a teacher and principal for several years, I know the impact that fewer teachers with larger class sizes makes on the school. Next year, we will lose at least three classroom teachers – even with an increase of only one student per class. We may lose more positions if class size is increased by one more child.

A reduction in the total number of classes will affect the staffing of support personnel, such as custodians and secretaries. Cuts in support staff, in turn, make it more challenging for us to maintain the quality and timeliness we have now.

What's more, a second year without a step increase in staff pay could affect whether or not some of our staff members are financially able to continue working in Fairfax County. This is very worrisome to me as a principal.

The End of FLES

We know that the FLES program will most likely be cut across the county, which means we lose our highly successful, award-winning Latin program. This program is perhaps one of the best examples of lesson integration across curricula and grade levels. The engaging lessons not only support SOL objectives, they also help students go deeper into the subjects which they are learning.

Latin will not be the only program affected by cuts. With fewer K-6 grade classroom teachers, our staffing allocation for our guidance, art, PE, music, band, strings and advanced academics will also be reduced. These programs provide our students with a balanced and enriched learning experience. Stay tuned for more details.

Providence Elementary School

Providence Elementary School
3616 Jermantown Road
Fairfax, VA 22030
703.460.4400
fcps.edu/ProvidenceES

Attitude Is Everything

By Jesse Kraft, Principal
Providence Elementary School

Providence entered this year with the following changes from the 2008-09 school year: one less custodian, a small increase in overall class size, no salary increases for any staff, and some changes in transportation that impacted bus service.

Through the concerted efforts of dedicated professionals, a supportive community, and willingness to help from various departments in FCPS, we, like many schools, are having a successful year despite these changes.

Reduction in Assistant Principals

Providence currently has two assistant principals that work to support its many programs, students, parents and teachers. Their duties include supervision of staff, safety, leading initiatives and specific duties like test coordination. At this time, it is unclear which schools in FCPS would lose an assistant principal if this cut is approved, but the loss of this position at any school is significant.

Class Size Increases

An increase in class size affects our staffing formula, and could result in the loss of classroom teaching positions even if our current population (870) stays the same. In addition, resource teacher positions could be reduced as well. This loss of staff and larger class sizes means less support for individual students.

Elimination of Chinese Program and other FLES classes

Providence offers Chinese instruction to students in grades 1 to 3 and Latin instruction to students in grades 4 to 6. These two FLES programs serve all students at Providence except kindergarteners (731 students).

The proposed budget requests that Fairfax County increase its transfer to FCPS to maintain certain programs. These are the programs and services at Providence that fall into that category: Elementary Band and Strings programs (218 students), school psychologists, social workers, and guidance counselors. These services impact many, if not all, students during their time at Providence.

I strongly encourage every Providence parent to stay informed and involved during this budget process and to think ahead to the years to come. While we will never give up when it comes to doing the absolute best job we can for our students, the potential changes in programs and positions would have a significant impact on our services.

Lanier Middle School

Lanier Middle School
3801 Jermantown Road
Fairfax, VA 22030
Tel: 703.934.2400
fcps.edu/LanierMS

Larger Class Sizes Are A Big Concern

By Scott Poole, principal
Lanier Middle School

Class size has always been a challenge, but given the likely budget cuts in the FY2011 budget, it will get even more difficult next year. At Lanier, this translates into about a 2% reduction in general education staffing – so if a class has 26.8 students per class, this means that it increases to 27.3 students per class.

Although those increases may not seem significant on the surface, the annual growth of enrollment at Lanier each year threatens to increase the class size even more. This year, the effect of any cuts in teacher positions was somewhat hidden, for we ended up hiring fewer teachers rather than laying off any. Regardless, it inched up our class sizes, making it increasingly difficult to offer more specialized classes that are differentiated to meet the needs of students.

The lack of attention to each student will be impacted by these cuts – and dealing with this will be the toughest thing for the school.

More Staffing Cuts

Reducing technology support will have serious consequences at Lanier due to the abundance of technology equipment that we need to maintain and repair. Technology training will also be seriously impacted if we don't have people with the time and expertise to teach others how to use it. Further reductions in custodial support will cause us to trade in more instructional supply money to make up for the difference or building quality will be sacrificed.

In addition, one front office position was eliminated from every middle school. Rather than disrupt a cohesive office team that has worked together effectively for many years, we decided to trade in local school monies to keep the position. We justified taking resources from other areas to save this position because we hoped that the economy would improve and it would be reinstated; current budget projections clearly demonstrate that this plan of action was idealistic and untenable over the long run.

One custodial position has also been cut from every middle school. As a result of our renovation that was completed in 2008, Lanier is now a facility that comprises 182,000 square feet and serves approximately 1,300 people each school day. Losing one position means that only 7 full-time and one part-time custodian are tasked with keeping our facility clean and operating smoothly; at the same time, their pay, like that of all FCPS employees, is being frozen.

Professional Development

The budget cuts will also eliminate the tuition reimbursement allocation for each staff member, and that translates into another salary reduction for teachers taking coursework for certification and advanced degrees. At the same time, Dr. Dale has directed principals to freeze all monies for non-local travel. Both of these cuts will severely curtail our ability to promote the professional development of our employees.

Summer School

We are quite concerned about eliminating general ed summer school, as each school will be left on their own to intervene with struggling students during the school year, further increasing the pressure on teachers and staff already trying to do more with less.

Fairfax High School

Fairfax High School
3501 Rebel Run
Fairfax, VA 22030
Tel: 703.219.2200
fcps.edu/FairfaxHS

Teachers May Have A Harder Time Providing Individual Learning

By Dave Goldfarb, principal
Fairfax High School

As a result of budgetary cuts, Fairfax High School has lost significant capacity to serve students and the community this year. Class size increased (by .5 in the student-teacher ratio) for the second consecutive year, and it looks like it may get worse in FY 2011.

Responsible for more students in their classes, teachers have more difficulty providing one-on-one support to promote student learning. County funding also eliminated late bus runs for one day a week, making it more difficult for students to receive extra help or make up work after school. Thankfully, the City of Fairfax School Board intervened and funded a second day of late buses each week.

Counseling Services

Fairfax High School and Fairfax Academy experienced reductions in their counseling services. The high school lost one full counseling position and the Academy lost one-half counseling position. Our counselors play major roles in academic advising, freshman transition program, and career and college planning. On a day-to-day basis, the counselors serve as personal advisors and advocates for students as they encounter academic, personal, and social challenges in school. With the reduction, each of our counselors provides the same services to 30-50 more students this year than they did last year.

Advanced Placement Tests

Dr. Dale's budget proposal requires students to pay $75 for each Advanced Placement (AP) test they take. Students are able to take AP courses without taking the tests, but taking the tests allows students to gain college credit for their focused study in the high school course. Many Fairfax High School graduates have been able to begin their college career with several credits because of their success on AP tests. We have several students taking multiple AP courses, and paying for multiple tests can become quite expensive.

Administrative Assistants

The school lost a 12-month office administrative assistant. This position was single-handedly responsible for maintaining our main office. Because of this loss, Fairfax High School is unable to provide the same level of access, especially during non-school hours. This year was the first year that Fairfax High School closed to the public during winter vacation. The library also lost its administrative assistant, and the school has asked for volunteers to help. This reduction has limited the support our librarians are able to provide, as one of them is needed at the front desk to check out materials and greet students at all times.

The Athletic Department

I expect the fees for athletic participation will lead to lower rates of participation in Fairfax High School sports, especially students who compete in different sports each year and among families with multiple student-athletes at our school. I also fear that the generous support our Athletic Boosters have received in the past will diminish because these families will already be paying money just to have their children be able to play. Our athletic program will be further hurt by the elimination of freshman sports.

The Bottom Line

In short, I encourage all community members to support the Fairfax High School staff's efforts to maintain its standards of facilitating and supporting student excellence despite being asked to do considerably more with fewer resources. It is difficult to ask, but the community must be made aware that Fairfax High School, and all other FCPS schools, will be unable to provide the same level of services in these times of severe budgetary constraints.

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© 2009 City of Fairfax

Newsletter by Hope Katz Gibbs, editor, Close-Up and City Schools communications specialist
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