Fairfax County Public Schools’ budget represents the best estimate of costs

September 3, 2013

The Aug. 26 front-page article “Fairfax schools’ extra money,” about “unspent funds” available at the end of each budget year for Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), stated that “over the past 10 years, the leftover funds have added up to more than $305 million.” I hope no reader came away with the impression that FCPS is sitting on a surplus of $305 million.

Every year, FCPS has an ending balance that is primarily used to balance the next year’s budget. At the end of fiscal year 2013, there was an available balance of $55 million, which represents about 2 percent of FCPS’s total operating budget of $2.5 billion. Most governmental agencies have money remaining at the end of the year due to several factors. Each year, budgets are built around projected amounts, which represent best estimates and typical circumstances.

The article suggested that the school board removed funding for supplemental science materials to fund turf fields. One action had nothing to do with the other, and they were separate decisions. A Joint Boards Synthetic Turf Task Force, which included representation from the County Board of Supervisors, the County Parks and Recreation Department and the Fairfax County School Board, recommended funding options to address identified equity issues for certain areas. As advised, the school board allocated $1.5 million, contingent upon the Board of Supervisors allocating the same amount.

FCPS is committed to sharing honest and transparent information, and we certainly welcome accurate scrutiny of our budgeting process.

Karen K. Garza, Falls Church

The writer is superintendent of the Fairfax County Public Schools.

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