Many Questions On Plan to Cut School Budget
As the Chairperson of the Professional Educators Advisory Committee and the President of the Falls Church City Education Association, I am very confused by a few points regarding the city funding of the school budget.
Does the city council have the ability to tell the school board where potential $170,000 cut will be in the school budget?
How are the schools going to keep their reputation of excellence if we don’t fund them?
Why are we comparing the city employees to school employees instead of comparing the city employees to surrounding jurisdiction employees and the school employees to surrounding school district employees?
If you cut the school budget, how are we going to attract and retain quality teachers when Arlington and Alexandria already pay more and are funding a full step and ½ step respectively?
Why are city job cuts a major concern this year when there was no concern for the school job cuts last year?
Since you have been comparing the city employees to the school employees–Why do our school employees pay a larger percentage for health care than the city employees?
Why is continuing to reduce the percentage of tax dollars the city uses on the schools a good idea?
How are the schools going to keep their reputation of excellence if we don’t fund them?
Why is the George Bus more important than city employees?
FCCEA President and PEAC Chairperson
Opposes Plan To Cut Funding For Halloween
The City Council at its recent Work Session, for the first time in this Budget cycle, proposed de-funding the Recreation & Parks Department’s Halloween Carnival and return to the Budget funding for the City’s portion of the Watch Night event. This position is contrary to prior recommendations of the Advisory Board of Recreation & Parks and the Department Director who felt in tough economic times that the Halloween Carnival was a better use of City funds. The Halloween Carnival has been held for over 40 years and serves a portion of the Community that is underserved in the services we provide – families with young children. The Carnival provides a vehicle for the kids to dress up in their costumes, play games, parade around in and be judged on their costumes; and lastly receive candy. Attendance (over 1000 parents and children) is so large that the event must be broken down into two sections in order to keep the Center from being overrun. Watch Night, which the City only co-sponsors, is a nice event when the City is flush with funds and does serve the desires of some in the community in providing a family orientate New Years Eve activity. Attendance at Watch Night is totally weather dependant and appears to serve a smaller segment of the community. Tough choices need to be made during this cycle; however, the elimination of a 40 year tradition in the City, at such a late time in the cycle and without sufficient notice to the community and time for comment, is not the way to handle the Budget.
The Council has scheduled a Work Session for tonight at 7:30 pm in the Council Chambers to discuss, among other things, the defunding of the Halloween Carnival. We hope that those interested in continuing this event will appear and support the continued funding of the Halloween Carnival.
Advisory Board of Recreation & Parks
One-Sided Coverage of the Falls Church
I totally agree with Walt Smith’s letter in last week’s News-Press, regarding your having an agenda other than reporting news, relative to the on-going situation with The Falls Church. You had both a news article and a column on the subject the previous week, both of which sounded like editorials.
Mr. Smith also was spot-on when he wrote “How nice it would be if both sides of this issue were represented in the article.” What I am wondering is why do you never directly quote (other than from written things you obtain) the Rev. John Yates on matters that bother you so much about him and the church he leads? Since there are always two sides to every story, why do you always present only such a one-sided view of things here?
Via the Internet
Besen Lumps All Teachers Together
Great stereotyping in Wayne Besen’s April 16 column. While I normally agree with his biting commentary, his saying “Teachers — who are supposed to be in charge — act no better than prison guards, indifferent to the pain and suffering” viciously stereotypes two professions.
His all-inclusive “teachers” condemns all teachers, implying that none have ever stood in defense of bullying victims. And “…no better than prison guards” clearly brands all corrections officers as scum of the Earth.
Someone who valiantly and eloquently argues against stereotyping should be ashamed of committing that very sin.
Urges Hull Foe to Resign School Post
It has come to my attention that our delegate to Richmond, Bob Hull, has drawn an opponent in the Democratic Primary.
It has also come to my attention that his opponent continues to hold her position on the Fairfax County School Board while drawing her salary. I would urge Kaye Kory to resign from the School Board in order to run against our very capable House Delegate.
Bob Hull has a splendid record in the House of Representatives, and I fully support keeping his gentleman in Richmond to represent our District 38 in the Assembly. I really am surprised that someone would want to lose his valuable experience and seniority, even though she has every right to do so.
Robert T. Mansker
Urges Support for This Year’s Relay for Life
I would like to thank the Falls Church News-Press and my fellow Chamber members for the recent acknowledgement as the 2009 James S. Elkin Award for Humanitarianism.
I would also like to thank Vantage Fitness, Argia’s, Clare & Don’s, Natalia’s, and Sunrise for their support of this year’s Relay For Life to support the American Cancer Society. I’m still looking for Corporate Sponsors for this year’s Relay which will take place on May 30-31 at George Mason High School. If you are interested in getting involved in the Falls Church Relay For Life, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.fallschurchrelay.org. This year’s event has over 60 teams and 500 participates! Thank you again, for this wonderful honor.
Hope M. Galley
Hails Kindness Exhibited by F.C. Students
It is so heartwarming to live in a community like this that is so caring with its special needs residents.
I have started working with Katelyn Williams, who has mental and physical issues. She aged out of the Falls Church City Public Schools last June.
One day I took her for a walk down to the tennis courts. A group of 4 young ladies Katelyn’s age came our direction. I thought, “They will be busy talking to each other. They will not speak to us.” To my surprise, one said, “Hello, Katelyn.” Another said, “Hi, Katelyn.” I was so impressed with them taking the time to greet her.
When we were returning, we walked by some houses. Another young lady stopped us and said, “Why, hello Katelyn! I haven’t seen you in years.”
The following day, Erica Kleibrink came over to Katelyn’s house to sing and read to her. Over the years, there have been several Falls Church City Public School girls who have come to read and play music for her. Katelyn loves music, so that is a real treat.
The next week I took Katelyn to the Mary Riley Styles Public Library and we went to the children’s section. “Hi, Katelyn,” said the Children’s Librarian after she noticed Katelyn. She knows Katelyn as a regular in the library and made a special point of greeting her. Then we went to the checkout. Before we said a word, the library employee said, “Hi, Katelyn!”
I am touched to the core by the thoughtfulness of the residents of this fine city. Clearly, being included in the FCCPS system instead of being shipped out to a special school far away helps those like Katelyn to be weaved into the fabric of the community. Inside our wonderful schools, too, it is so amazing to see such compassion among the regular students towards their needier peers, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the students later seek jobs working with special needs individuals.
Good job, Falls Church!
F.C. School Board Chair Speaks Out
The Falls Church City Council’s vision and strategic plan makes world-class public schools a top priority. The vision states the Falls Church City Public Schools “is at the heart of our identity as a community.” It recognizes that “public schools are why the city was established and have always been central to its success,” and it acknowledges “this requires a continuing focus on outstanding staff, up-to-date facilities, innovative leadership and the efficient use of resources.”
Yet, in the 11th hour of this year’s budget process, the Falls Church City Council wants to sacrifice the vision and cut the FY10 school budget by $170,000 so that it can reinstate two of the general government positions that the city manager recommended cutting. More than one council member stated in an open meeting that the schools should “share the pain” in a difficult budget year. The school board believes it has already demonstrated a good-faith effort to do just that.
Last year, the school board cut eight full time positions from the schools, while all general government employees retained their positions. This year, the school board returned nearly $375,000 to the city government in an effort to “share the pain” of a projected $800,000 shortfall in state sales tax revenue. The school board made further cuts by crafting a budget plan for next year that is nearly $400,000 less than the current year’s budget.
The city council will hold a public hearing on the proposed school cuts on Thursday, April 23rd at 7:30 p.m. in the chambers at city hall, and I encourage all citizens to voice their support for fully funded schools either in person or through letters and email to the city council. Our school system’s reputation is the key reason many families choose to live here, why our property values are as high as they are and why many refer to our schools as the “crown jewel of our community.”
Ron Peppe, Chairman
Falls Church City School Board