It is an honor and a privilege to serve as Mason District Supervisor. I am deeply grateful for the confidence and trust placed in me once again by the voters of Mason District. Thank you for your support. I look forward to continuing to work with all Mason District residents to address community issues, large or small.
Although the local campaigns are completed, the issues affecting our communities are still with us. Public education always has been an overarching priority of the Board of Supervisors, and next spring’s budget debates likely will be noisy and robust. Balancing the needs of Fairfax County’s school system with all the other services that also are a county responsibility is a huge challenge, and the Lines of Business (LOBs) review will help both the Board and Supervisors and the School Board identify potential cost savings for programs and taxpayers. The LOBs review will begin in January after the newly elected board members take their seats. Those meetings are public, and will be conducted at the Fairfax County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway in Fairfax. More information will be posted on www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dmb in coming weeks.
At the Virginia Association of Counties’ (VACo) annual conference this week, VACo members supported a resolution advocating increased state funding for K-12 public education. This resolution is the result of an initiative by Fairfax County to seek restoration of state education funding that has been cut since 2008, and fully fund the Standards of Quality and Standards of Accreditation as recommended by the State Board of Education. The lack of adequate state funding for local public schools has a negative effect on all of Virginia’s 95 counties, large or small, urban, suburban, or rural. Reductions in Direct Aid contributions for public education have resulted in more spending by local governments. In Fiscal Year 2014 alone, local governments spent $3.6 billion above the Required Local Effort for education mandated by Virginia law. Underfunding also places Virginia at a disadvantage in workforce training and economic development. The state must step up to its responsibilities for public education, and Governor Terry McAuliffe agrees.
As VACo president, I will present the resolution to the governor to support increased K-12 education funding in his biennial budget, which will be released in mid-December. The resolution also urges the governor and the General Assembly to work together to identify additional sources of funding for public education. As part of this initiative, VACo has invited the Virginia Municipal League and other organizations to participate in advocating for increased state funding in the upcoming General Assembly session that begins in January. Education is the key to success for every child in Virginia, who deserve nothing less than our unswerving advocacy for more state funding for public education. It is critical to success today, and for years to come.
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.