Kudos to the Falls Church City Council, to the five members who did the right thing by adopting a Fiscal Year 2014 budget with full funding of the School Board’s request. There remain many difficult spillover issues that the Council will be facing in the coming months, but this Monday night it stood with the prevailing will of the City to continue supporting its world class schools.
It marked a victory for a notion that often gets lost in our selfish consumer-centric culture, and that has to do with the natural inclination of human beings to elevate a sense of purpose over personal gain or entitlement. If nothing else, that dedication to a higher purpose is most evident in the sacrifices that are made for children, and for the opportunities we all want for them growing up.
But the full funding for the School Board request went, in our view, a step beyond that in ways that maybe will take a bit longer to sink in and fully appreciate.
It had to do with a community’s commitment to a sense of purpose centered in its vocation. Yes, Falls Church has a vocation, it has a calling, beyond just being a nice place to live. That’s was the undertone of so much of what citizens were alluding to in their appeals to the City Council to do something as seemingly untenable as providing a whopping 14.3 percent increase in its funding level to the schools.
The vocation of Falls Church is the very high calling of providing the best environment for the education and development of its population, especially its young, as possible. This vocation takes education as the engine of its identity and success, and the realization of how excellent schools provide a critical value-added to the overall economy of the city.
Home values in Falls Church are markedly higher than in communities right around the City, even though the school systems of neighboring Fairfax and Arlington counties are also superior. Families prefer Falls Church because, we feel, of the non-verbal affirmation here that good schools are not just a by-product of affluence, but because they define the very essence of our community’s existence.
The passion with which teachers, staff and leaders in Falls Church schools speak of their ability to touch the lives and the needs of all their students rubs off onto the wider community. In the case of this budget season, when the challenges presented by the City Schools’ record enrollment growth called for a herculean effort to win the votes of the City Council, that effort brought out the best of that sentiment among an uncommonly energized citizenry, and has left Falls Church changed for the better forever.
It is a source of great and worthy pride that the City’s schools are swelling in their enrollment by such record numbers. It’s what we do, Falls Church, and its nice to see that others recognize that we do it very well.