Fairfax supervisor to tour schools as budget talks on education funding heat up

Fairfax County supervisor Jeff McKay said he will visit more than 25 schools in upcoming weeks to get a classroom view of the fiscal challenges facing the school system.

With budget talks with the school board underway, McKay said he will visit all of the schools in his magisterial district to talk face-to-face with principals, teachers and students.

McKay said in a statement that the tour will help him hear firsthand “about their day-to-day issues and the correlation of the proposed budget list and student achievement.”

Earlier this month, Fairfax schools superintendent Karen Garza unveiled a $2.5 billion budget that includes $96 million in reductions, including possible staff cuts and bigger class sizes.

Overall, Garza is seeking a 5.7 percent increase in county funds from the supervisors. Since last spring, the supervisors have told the school board to expect a two percent increase. Supervisors have said that already more than half of the county’s tax revenue goes to the schools.

“These are difficult budget times, and they’re not likely to get easier, especially when rhetoric seems to trump common sense,” McKay (D-Lee) said. “My goal is to find the road that leads to practical solutions.”

McKay begins his tour Wednesday afternoon at Hayfield Elementary near Alexandria, where he said his daughter is in kindergarten. In previous years, McKay said, proposals from the schools for massive cuts lacked context. He said that by touring the schools he hopes to get a more realistic perspective of how some cuts could affect student achievement.

“By going beyond a budget cut list to understand how our schools, programs, communities and elected officials can all work together, I’m hoping to make our budget process a little less fraught,” McKay said.

A graduate of Fairfax schools, McKay said the ultimate goal is to “ensure that our schools continue to be the best in the country.”

T. Rees Shapiro is an education reporter.
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