FCPS superintendent scales back planned staff pay raises due to revenue shortfall

Fairfax County Public Schools central office in Merrifield (staff photo by James Jarvis)

Facing lower-than-expected revenue from the county and state, Fairfax County Public Schools is considering a proposal to reduce staff pay raises.

Under Superintendent Michelle Reid’s new proposal, presented at last week’s school board meeting, all school employees would receive a 3% pay increase instead of the initially planned 6%, which would’ve made starting teacher salaries in Fairfax County the highest among surrounding jurisdictions.

“The focus of our budget proposal had been to catapult beginning teacher salaries and again the beginning masters teacher salaries to number one in our region,” Reid told the school board during its meeting last Thursday (May 9). “However, as a result of the significantly lower-than-requested funding levels, our improvement in beginning salaries will be a bit more measured, moving from seventh place out of eight to sixth place out of eight.”

The revised proposal came after the Board of Supervisors adopted a fiscal year 2025 budget on May 7 that increased the county’s real estate tax rate by 3 cents to support pay raises for county and school employees.

Back in February, Reid requested an additional $254 million for FCPS from the county, primarily to fund staff pay raises. But the county’s newly adopted budget, which will take effect on July 1, allocates $165 million after the Board of Supervisors raised concerns about further raising property taxes to compensate for state underfunding of schools.

According to Reid’s presentation, FCPS will get about $102 million less from the county and state than what the superintendent had sought in her proposed budget.

Gov. Youngkin signed a new two-year budget yesterday (Monday) that will be effective from July 1 and last until June 30, 2026. Approved with near-unanimous bipartisan support, the budget includes more than $2 billion for K-12 public education and provides 3% pay raises for teachers and state employees.

Although it was not immediately clear if FCPS will receive additional funding from this deal, Reid told the school board she will amend her proposal if more funds become available.

“If that money or monies should become available, I’ll likely be recommending the restoration of as much of the originally planned salary increase as possible,” she said.

Citing a recent study by the Joint Legislative Audit & Review Commission of Virginia (JLARC), Reid emphasized that the state’s underfunding of FCPS by $568.6 million annually is a major reason for the school system’s continuous requests for more county funding.

“[The $568.6 million] would enable us to do a lot of amazing work and make sure that our educators benefited from a salary that would enable them to continue to live or afford the cost of living here in Fairfax County,” Reid said. “Unfortunately, the General Assembly has essentially delayed action on these recommendations by continuing to request further study.”

At the meeting, Hunter Mill District School Board Representative Melanie Meren attributed the worsening shortfall in K-12 school funding to Youngkin’s tax reduction policies and criticized the county for not advocating more vigorously on behalf of the school board.

“It’s now a pattern, and the governor continues to hold school boards like ours accountable for providing some services and yet does not allow us the time to actually plan as best as we can,” she said. “…I’d like to know what our county partners are doing to actually help us resolve this.”

The school board will hold a public hearing on its proposed budget today (Tuesday) that could be extended to tomorrow (Wednesday), followed by a work session on Tuesday, May 21. Adoption of a final budget is scheduled for May 23.

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