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Falls Church Schools Say Its Leaders Won’t Condone Cuts in 4 Key Instructional Areas

Despite the steep revenue shortfall facing the City of Falls Church in the upcoming budget cycle, falling 15 percent below the current year’s level of expenditures, the Falls Church City School Board has made it clear that it will not agree to cuts in four crucial instructional areas: full day kindergarten, foreign language, music and art.

The Falls Church Board Office posted a statement to that effect on its web site this afternoon. “We want to keep any budget reductions as far removed from the classroom as possible,” State Board Chair Ron Peppe, now an announced candidate for the Falls Church City Council, said in the statement. The statement announced that the school board is “trying to craft a budget for FY11 with a reduction target of $1.11 million from the current year’s budget. The full School Division statement is as follows:

“While the school board’s FY11 budget process is far from over, the board members made it clear during their work session on Saturday that proposed cuts in four instructional areas are off the table: full day kindergarten, foreign language, music and art. The board members agreed that these are fundamental components of the instructional program, and that reductions in these areas are no longer up for consideration.

“We want to keep any budget reductions as far removed from the classroom as possible,” School Board Chairman Ron Peppe said.

Because of the economic recession, the school board is trying to craft a budget for FY11 with a reduction target of $1.11 million from the current year’s budget. The process continues a two-year cycle of reductions and mid-year corrections to help the city government offset revenue shortfalls:

• The FY09 school board budget was $600,000 less than the superintendent’s proposed budget and reduced school staffing by the equivalent of approximately eight full time positions.

• In mid FY09, the school board transferred nearly $400,000 back to the city’s general fund to help offset a revenue shortfall of $800,000. The board was able to do this because of a projected savings in salary and benefit costs when veteran teachers retired and were replaced with new teachers who started at a lower end of the salary scale.

• The FY10 school board budget was nearly $400,000 less than the FY09 budget.

• In mid FY10, the school board approved spending reductions in order to provide $300,000 in financial relief to the city’s general fund to help offset a significant revenue shortfall. This was made possible through:

• A partial hiring freeze for vacant positions.

• A reduction in spending for several operational cost centers.

• Delaying some of the items in the school division’s maintenance and replacement schedule.

• Reductions in professional services and travel budgets.

• Reductions in human resources advertising.

• Reductions in tuition reimbursement for staff.

• The total reduction in school funding and staffing over the past two years is approximately $700,000 and the equivalent of approximately eight full time positions.

The school board will continue to look at a four-tiered list of reduction options presented by Superintendent Lois Berlin in January in an effort to reach the FY11 budget reduction target. All budget work sessions are open to the public, and members of the public are encouraged to take part in a series of public hearings.

 

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