Fairfax County public schools administrators are projecting a $156 million deficit for next year’s budget as they seek to provide teachers and staff with significant raises after years of stagnant compensation.
“It’s not good news,” Susan Quinn, Fairfax schools’ chief financial officer, told board members at a meeting last week. “We have huge challenges ahead of us.”
Quinn said the board has depended too heavily on leftover funds from previous years to balance the budget. This year, the board has about $45 million in leftover cash from last year’s budget, but it’s not nearly enough to offset the expected shortfall. Neither are the potential savings outlined in an outside audit.
About 88 percent of the school system’s $2.5 billion budget goes toward employee compensation. In four of the past five years, the school system has not given significant raises to salaried staff.
Prince George’s County has hired 15 new principals this year, more than half of them in the past month.
Doris Reed, who represents the principals’ union, said it is not uncommon for the school system to start the academic year with more than a dozen new principals.
Reed said that there is always a lot of discussion about how difficult it is to retain strong teachers but that the same is true of qualified principals.
It’s “a lot harder to get an experienced administrator than it is to get a teacher,” Reed said.
And the district is still in need of teachers, with nearly 70 vacancies as of last week.