Editorial: Because It’s What We Do

April 24, 2013 6:25 PM4 comments

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.

  • Mark

    The council made a very poor long term decision. The current fiscal situation of the City is Not sustainable on its current path. The increasing burden on homeowners is out of control. We now may the highest homeowner taxes in the area.

    If anything – the decision of the council will provoke a longer term backlash.

    The schools view the citizens as an endless well of money.

    When will homeowners tax hit $1.40, $1.50 or higher? Probably sooner than anyone thinks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Smith/100002309640996 Mike Smith

    In the short term there will be high-fiving and back-patting that the budget got passed with “full funding” for the schools. But, as Mark points out, the long-term effect will be tax rates will north of $1.50 as we now have a much higher base upon which future increases will be figured. And to make matters worse we have robbed from needed capital investments, used one time money for the ongoing stormwater needs and set the precedent of reducing our fund balance policy when it became inconvenient. Other than that, a fine job was done by all.

  • Vincent Seidita

    I just notice that George Mason High School was dropped from the US News national list of top high schools. In 2012 George Mason was 19th in the nation and 2nd in Virginia. In 2013 it was not ranked in either the nation or the state. Does anyone know what happened? Did I miss an article in the News Press concerning the 2013 rankings?

    • FallsChurchCitizen

      The folks in Arlington should be even more upset. They spend more per student and pay their teachers more, but none of their schools were on the list either! (Seriously, something’ screwy.)

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