November 1, 2013

The Oct. 30 editorial “Fairfax schools face tough choices” referred to our current budget dilemma as an “opening salvo” in an annual budget “battle.” This suggests that Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) is overstating the budget crisis in the hope that county officials will respond with additional funding. Not true. We will make our case for adequate funding but, in the end, the Board of Supervisors will determine if it wants to improve upon the 1.1 percent average annual funding increase it has provided to FCPS over the past five years.

However, if the system is slowly starved of resources, the outcome is easy to predict. We cannot assume that Fairfax will continue to be a magnet for businesses and families if the greatness of our schools erodes. Our schools are a key factor in the economic success the county has enjoyed. The $140 million projected shortfall is real and the result of revenue not keeping pace with growing enrollment plus increasing costs for health insurance and pensions. An analysis of the system’s operations will come to one conclusion: Without significant additional funding, budget reductions that affect all areas of FCPS will be necessary. 

FCPS welcomes scrutiny and volunteered to participate in Virginia’s School Efficiency Review Program, which helps districts improve efficiency and directs savings to the classroom. But the review revealed savings of only a fraction of what’s needed to address the deficit. The conclusion was that FCPS is very efficiently run.

The fiscal 2015 budget process has only just started, and we welcome feedback on our priorities. This is not an abstract exercise. The legacy of FCPS is at stake.   

Ilryong Moon, Falls Church

The writer is chairman of the Fairfax County School Board. 

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