Last month, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved funding for schools that met nearly all of what school officials sought — the first time that’s happened in recent memory, county officials said.
But that has apparently done little to ease the tension between the two entities over money that stretches back to at least the mid-1990s.
In the latest chapter, county supervisors responded Tuesday to accusations made by school officials that they were essentially abandoning the futures of the county’s nearly 187,000 students by passing a budget last month that fell $14 million short of what school officials sought in their own $2.5 billion proposed budget.
“Supervisors are sending a clear message that they are unconcerned about the increasing challenges of our students, our teachers, and our schools,” Schools Superintendent Karen Garza said at the time in a statement.
During Tuesday’s supervisors meeting, Supervisor John Cook (R-Braddock) called that reaction “odd,” given that, in its 2016 budget, the county had increased school funding by $66.7 million.
He introduced a motion that was unanimously passed to request that a publicly available fact sheet be produced “so that we have and the public would have accurate information about where we believe we are in projecting the school budget for FY17.”
Board Chairman Sharon Bulova (D) agreed, saying “we had essentially funded, I think it was, 99.8 percent of their request.”
“It is now in the hands in the school board to adopt a budget that reflects what the increase is,” Bulova said, referring to a school board vote scheduled next week on a final 2016 budget plan.
On Tuesday, Garza defended her statement, saying a projected $100 million school budget shortfall for the fiscal 2017 is raising alarms inside the school system.
“My only concern is about the children of this county and our schools,” Garza said. “I stand by my statement that without additional funding, this next round of cuts will have a sgnificant impact on the overall quality of services and programs we provide for our children. I am deeply troubled with the chronic underfunding of this valued community asset – our schools.”