Some members of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors said yesterday they will attempt to delete $2 million to $6 million from the school board's proposed $432.9 million budget, which the school officials have refused to cut themselves.
"A good $5 to $6 million could be cut from the administration without hurting school programs," Supervisor Sandra L. Duckworth said in an interview before supervisors questioned school board members and school administrators publicly on the budget.
While the discussion proceeded inside the Massey office building in Fairfax City, about 175 teachers gathered outside for a candlelight vigil in support of the school board's funding request.
"It seems to me we have some inconsistencies in this budget," Supervisors Chairman John F. Herrity, one of the most outspoken critics of the school board's budget, told the school officials. "You're asking for a level of increase that is greater" than justified by economic conditions.
The school board has asked for a 10 percent budget increase. The county's share of the budget, however, will increase almost 13 percent. The county provides about two-thirds of the funding for the school system.
Supervisors will not vote on the school budget until April 26 and said they may request more meetings with school officials in an effort to iron out disagreements.
School board members spent almost an hour attempting to sell their budget package to supervisors skeptical of requests for more money in the face of declining student enrollment.
School Board Chairman Ann P. Kahn told the supervisors that declining enrollments have not offset the increased costs brought on by inflation, demands for expanding special education programs and the need to replace and upgrade outdated equipment.
"We hope you recognize our sensitivity to the current economic climate," Kahn said, "and our determination to deter growth in staffing and to reduce the required support from taxpayers to the lowest level consistent with maintenance of quality education."
But Supervisor Martha V. Pennino shot back, "There is just no way you can justify an increase of 786 administrators in the past six years when school population is decreasing."
Kahn said most of the increases are not really in management but are in such expanding areas as special education and such instructional programs as English-as-a-second-language.
Public hearings on the budget will continue at 7:30 tonight and Wednesday night.