The new Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) budget could signal big changes for local schools, including extended availability of school counselors and new middle school athletics programs.
Superintendent Dr. Michelle C. Reid presented the budget for the 2023-2024 school year at a meeting last Thursday (Jan. 12).
The $3.5 billion budget is a $249.6 million (7.6%) increase over the approved budget for fiscal year 2023, which began July 1, 2022 and ends June 30.
Reid is requesting an additional $159.6 million from the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.
Part of that cost comes from an increase in employee compensation.
According to a release from FCPS, the budget includes:
- $80.9 million to provide a market scale adjustment of 3.0% for all employees.
- $58.2 million to provide a step increase for all eligible employees.
- $19.9 million to provide a 1.0% retention bonus for employees hired in FCPS during FY 2023 and remaining employed with FCPS in FY 2024.
- $4.3 million to provide a step extension for all scales.
Several members of the school board praised the proposed increase for staff compensation.
Another popular item among school board members is funding to provide middle school spring and fall athletic activities.
“You had me at middle school sports,” said Hunter Mill District representative Melanie Meren. “I think about where I grew up and the sports there, and it’s something that’s so missed here…I know this is a significant ask, but we are going to get an incredible investment. I’m eager to work to make this happen.”
Student representative Michele Togbe said the expansion of high school counseling for students into summer break will be a welcome improvement.
“If I could hug a budget, I would hug this budget,” Togbe said. “With the counselors, I think it’s really cool that we’re expanding their contract and their days.”
Other notable investments in the new budget include:
- Increased access to Pre-K: the budget includes $2 million to provide resources for 10 additional Pre-K classrooms.
- Support for students with disabilities: the budget includes $2 million to be allocated to the Special Education Compensatory Services Fund to address learning loss caused by the pandemic
- Changing student enrollment needs: the budget includes a variety of improvements grouped together as “student enrollment needs,” including paying for increased costs in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) programs and free and reduced-price meals, totaling around $65.2 million for 679.2 positions
The Fairfax County budget will be presented on Feb. 21, followed by a joint meeting of the school board and Board of Supervisors on Feb. 28. Public meetings will be held in April followed by final adoption on May 9 for the county budget and May 25 for the school budget.
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