Fairfax teachers and parents speak out about budget concerns
FAIRFAX, Va. (WJLA) - Parents in Fairfax County often view the schools with great pride. But these days that pride is mixed with uneasiness.
Jennifer Cherry's family moved to the region from Connecticut and chose Fairfax because of the schools, where she has four children enrolled. But Cherry worries cuts will damage their future.
"I wonder if the younger grades are going to be performing as well as the older ones currently are," questioned Cherry.
The county's current school funding proposal comes in at up to $40 million less than the budget backed by the school board and new Superintendent Karen Garza.
"I think it's not, at this point, what the needs are of the children but what they are willing to give up money-wise for the school system," said Steven Greenburg, Fairfax Co. Fed. of Teachers President. "Which is two different things."
Garza and the board are pushing for a $2.5 billion budget, including $41 million in teacher raises. The budget also calls for $96 million in cuts, including cutting 731 school staff positions.
One idea being floated to help fill the gap is a property tax hike - a $50 or $100 increase per average homeowner.
Sharon Bulova is head of the Fairfax Board of Supervisors, and says both sides have to give even more.
"We're looking for the savings on the county side of the budget," said Bulova. "We also ask for the school board to look for savings on their side as well."
Only after the public hearings will the board finalize and pass the county budget. But there's another potential problem, and it's in Richmond. If leaders at the Capitol continue their stalemate and do not pass a state budget, Fairfax County schools could be out of up to $30 million.