Regarding the Feb. 26 Metro article “Property tax cap in Fairfax may jump”:
Fairfax County Executive Edward L. Long Jr.’s fiscal 2015 budget plan is sadly one-sided in that it satisfies the needs of the county government but ignores the significant needs of our schools.
The Fairfax County School Board asked for a 5.7 percent increase ($98 million) in county funding, to address increased costs related to the Virginia Retirement System ($39 million) and enrollment growth ($26 million) and to respond to the district’s structural deficit ($34 million). This request reflected an overall spending increase of just 2.4 percent and included cuts in excess of $96 million to cover increases tied to health insurance and salaries. Notably, these cuts included a reduction of 731 jobs.
Mr. Long’s proposal includes new revenue of more than $148.2 million, but less than a quarter of it would go to schools. While spending on county operations would go up by 4 percent, this appropriation would allow Fairfax County Public Schools to increase its operating budget by only 1 percent.
It is easy to claim that education is a top priority. But the rubber meets the road in the financial commitment that the county is willing to provide our schools. An average funding increase of 1.1 percent for the past five years falls short of what is needed to maintain the high standards Fairfax expects of its schools. The county administrator’s budget continues this troubling pattern.
Ilryong Moon, Falls Church
The writer is chairman of the Fairfax County School Board.