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Fairfax County schools facing massive deficit

6:20 PM, Oct 21, 2013   |    comments
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FALLS CHURCH Va. (WUSA9) -- Fairfax County Schools are among the top in the nation and the largest with 185,000 students and a $2.5 billion budget, but that could be in jeopardy.

The school system is facing a massive deficit that could result in furloughs or layoff to programs. A $150 million deficit could blow a hole right in that budget and either Fairfax County supervisors have to raise property tax rates or the school system is going to have to cut.

Those cuts would likely be felt in the classroom. Fairfax County Schools superintendent is facing a budget deficit so deep, she is considering furloughs and layoffs.

That worries the president of the Federation of Teachers.

"This is not a game, it's not a ploy."

Why is Fairfax County in such a hole? Federal stimulus money is gone and the Virginia retirement system payment, it got a break from paying, is now due.

"We have uncontrollable cost increases we're having to prepare for," said Karen Garza, FCPS Superintendent. " That is an increase to the vrs contribution, about $37 million. Our insurance program we had to bid is an increase of $25 million. We are expecting a reduction in state revenue around $21 million and every year we are growing."

The school board is looking at every which way to cut. Proposals include increasing class sizes, special programs could go, and cutting assistant principal positions.

The teacher's federation said the county needs to provide more money so the cuts don't happen.

"If we don't receive six percent transfer from our supervisors in addition to the two percent they promised, we are looking right now at $150 million in cuts."

Supervisor John Cook says every agency has to tighten his budget.

"The problem we have is, keeping the rate even, that's asking people to pay hundreds of dollars more and people aren't getting pay increases to pay that rate out of," Cook said.

Now both Superintendent Garza and the school board want to give teachers a pay raise to make those salaries competitive with nearby counties. In order to do that they would have to increase class sizes and what parent wants that?

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