The Falls Church School Board voted tonight to formally request a transfer of funds from the City of Falls Church that represents a 12.9 percent one-year increase, driven by a phenomenal growth in enrollment.
The request is not as high as the 14.1 percent recommended last month by Superintendent Dr. Toni Jones, as some components Dr. Jones identified as “important” and “unfunded needs” are not included.
The adopted School Board budget is for $40,937,800, including a transfer from the City request of $33,682,700.
By law, in crafting his recommended budget to the City Council next week, City Manager Wyatt Shields must incorporate the full board request. Given guidance by the Council last night to keep his recommended budget to a projected 3.8 percent overall revenue growth rate, Shields faces an extraordinary challenge preparing his recommendations that he will present next Monday night.
School Board chair Susan Kearney said that there is a lot of discontentment with this budget due to the fact that few if any on the board think that the City Council will ultimately support its recommendation. “It is almost insane in a city like this” that such is the case she said.
But she said the request need not lead to a big tax rate increase, suggesting that current surpluses and high savings levels in the City could mitigate the higher costs.
Tonight’s vote by the School Board followed two amendments that were introduced by Board member Greg Rasnake that both sought to increase the budget, but that both failed. Rasnake said the choice was between austerity and investment in growth, and that it will continue to be difficult for the Schools to get the resources they need if they continue to ask for less than they need.
The board’s vote tonight was 5-2 with Rasnake and Craig Cheney voting no.