News

F.C. Schools Superintendent Proposes 7% Increase in City Transfer

tonijonepage5Citing record enrollment growth in the past year and fears of huge added burdens from Richmond on retirement system costs, Falls Church’s new Superintendent of Schools Dr. Toni Jones presented her first City schools recommended budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

Citing record enrollment growth in the past year and fears of huge added burdens from Richmond on retirement system costs, Falls Church’s new Superintendent of Schools Dr. Toni Jones presented her first City schools recommended budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

Her $37.6 million proposed budget includes a transfer from the City of $29.9 million, an increase of 7.3 percent.

Tuesday’s presentation of the superintendent’s recommended budget is the first step in the process of the School Board adoption of its budget by the end of February.

Dr. Jones noted the 4.5 percent growth in the enrollment in F.C. public schools, the biggest single year increase in the past 30 years. She added that the burden on the system to fund its obligation to the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) would be the largest single year increase in history.

tonijonepage5

NEW FALLS CHURCH School Superintendent Dr. Toni Jones presented her first ever recommended budget to the School Board Tuesday night. (Photo: News-Press)

The added VRS burden could amount to $1.071 million, long with increases by $198.3 and $196.8 for VRS life and health benefits. Jones summarized her plan in a guest commentary elsewhere in the January 12-18 edition of the News-Press.

The enrollment growth will require the hiring of five additional teachers, she said, at a cost of $400,000. In addition, the regional competitive environment will require a salary increase for all staff members. “In order to recruit and retain outstanding individuals for our classrooms, we must take care of them,” she said. She proposed a single salary “step” for all staff in the system at a cost of $720,000.

But proposed budget savings could cover much of the cost of adding new teachers, she suggested. She proposed consolidation of the Human Resources Office and Curriculum Office, the end of a testing coordinator position and reductions in the central office technical staff. The measures would result in a saving of $335,700, or the equivalent of 4.2 teachers.
She also noted that federal stimulus money, $541,000,will not be available in the coming year, but since the school system did not use the stimulus money in general classroom operations last year, the loss of the source will not be catastrophic.

The overall size of the Falls Church school system is now 2,262 after the record enrollment increase of 223 this fall. The total is up dramatically from 1,991 at the end of the 2009-2010 school year.

The total size of the City transfer to the schools under Dr. Jones’ recommendation is $29.9 million, or an increase of $2.042 million, a 7.3 percent increase over the current year.
Overall, the school budget recommendation is for a $37.6 million budget with an increase of 5.3 percent.

The “positives” in the budget she included were plans for “hybrid learning,” blending high-quality teachers with digital content and tools, and greater digital access, automation and assessment. There will be new math textbooks for the K-5 grades, and science books for the Henderson Middle School, in addition to new world language books. Mason High will become completely wireless, and Henderson will have enhanced wireless, she said.

Among other measures, Dr. Jones included a proposal for shifting Falls Church Cable Television from a cable-based to a web-based platform, a move she said would save $80,000, or enough to hire an added teacher.

Dr. Jones received a rousing applause the members of the School Board upon the completion of her presentation.

In the audience, Jon Pepper of the Falls Church Education Association listened intently. He then told the News-Press that he felt Dr. Jones’ proposed budget was “fiscally responsible” and “takes everything the schools need into account.”

The first public hearing on the budget will be Tuesday, Jan. 24, followed by second and third public hearings on Feb. 7 and 14, and a town hall meeting on March 17. The School Board will put off final adoption of its budget until May 8, after the F.C. City Council has determined the size of its transfer to the schools.

 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*