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Posted at 04:56 PM ET, 09/11/2012

New year, new board, new beat reporter

In the waning days of summer, I always looked forward to returning to school to meet the new kids in my class.

Now, as the school year begins, I’m the new face in the crowd.

I’ll be The Post’s beat reporter covering Fairfax County education. If you see me around your school, or at a School Board meeting, please stop and introduce yourself. I’m looking forward to getting to know Fairfax schools and all the people involved with educating children in the county. Feel free to e-mail me, shapirot [at] washpost [dot] com, and also follow me on twitter for updates about the school system, @TReesShapiro.

On Monday, I spent the day at a School Board work session. Not a whole lot happened. But there were two things that came up that Fairfax County parents should know about: a potential deficit shortfall for fiscal 2014 and a boundary change involving Fairfax High School and Lanier Middle. I’ll write more about these issues, but in the meantime, here’s a rundown of what’s going on:

During a presentation Monday, the school system’s chief financial officer, Susan Quinn, said that the Fairfax fiscal 2014 forecast was potentially dire. Under certain conditions, the budget deficit could reach more than $145 million. School officials said it is unlikely that that will happen, however, because the School Board has several months to work out a solution before the possibility becomes a reality.

Many of the county’s mounting fiscal challenges are driven by rising enrollment. In the next five years, the student population is expected to grow by about 2,300 students per year.

To alleviate crowding in the interim, the School Board approved a proposal Monday to amend the boundaries near Fairfax High and Lanier Middle schools.

Although both secondary schools are part of the Fairfax City public school system, about 65 percent of the student population comes from the county. Currently, Fairfax County pays Fairfax City a fee to send county students to the two city schools.

Because of the influx of county students, Fairfax High is operating at 13 percent above capacity, and Lanier Middle has 99 percent capacity. Projected enrollment growth in the next five years could exacerbate crowding, officials said.

The proposed boundary changes would alleviate crowding at the two schools, officials said. In the coming months, county officials will meet with members of the community to discuss the proposals. The project is expected to be completed by the beginning of the September 2014 school year.

By  |  04:56 PM ET, 09/11/2012

 
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