With three weeks to go before the Falls Church City Council is slated to vote on its Fiscal Year 2014 budget, no one on the Council has yet tipped their hand on how they intend to handle the record increase in the School Board’s budget request.
Tonight’s joint City Council-School Board work session was supposed to be the showdown event that would define how a majority on the Council might vote, but much less a majority, no single Council member had a word to say on that specific matter.
Perhaps it was because the School Board, led by Chair Susan Kearney, came loaded to the teeth with detailed answers to all the 16 questions that the Council had presented them with to compel them to justify the 12.9 percent increase in funding. A detailed 28-page document replete with graphs and projections provided the background to the answers.
When it was all over, all that Mayor Nader Baroukh could say was to caution the Council that the time is running short for some decisions.
By far the most vocal of the Council members, Ira Kaylin, himself refused to draw any conclusions from the meeting. “We just got this information and need to read more before we can comment,” he said.
This was a far tamer Kaylin than when he lashed out at the Schools’ Chief Financial Officer Hunter Kimble for Kimble’s analysis of the Virginia Retirement Fund (VRS) situation last month. This time, the Schools came armed with a statement from the chief financial officer of the VRS corroborating Kimble’s analysis. Kaylin had been so upset at Kimble’s analysis earlier that he said it called just about everything the Schools were arguing into question.
But the bottom line that has been strongly defended by Kearney, School Superintendent Dr. Toni Jones and other School Board members tonight was the undisputed fact that there are 496 more students in the system now that there were five years ago, a 25 percent jump adding up to almost the total enrollment at the Thomas Jefferson School.