Proposed FCPS Budget Cuts To Dramatically Impact Schools and Students

$140 million shortfall in school budget may require drastic cuts, larger class sizes, and elimination of school programs


Photo: Nguyen Cao, The Annandale A-Blast

FCPS Superintendent Karen Garza is proposing serious cuts and increased class sizes to meet budget shortfall

The big question that everyone in Fairfax County schools has on their mind right now is “What cuts will be made to next year’s budget?” No one wants to have to pay more for anything and no one wants to see public schools suffer. Unfortunately, it may come to an ultimatum: one or more programs have to be cut.

Right now, FCPS is facing a $140 million budget shortfall. This is caused by an array of different things including growing student enrollment numbers and a large increase in health insurance rates for FCPS employees. This shortfall will hit the 2014-2015 school year hard and affect the years to come.

Many different options are being tossed around right now to resolve the shortfall, such as county-wide staff reductions, including cutting school counselor positions, and increasing class sizes. These two ideas are quite contradictory and together chaos will surely arise.

Counselors are there for students who need help. They are there to get them through high school and into college, as well as offer support and advice. They are also a crucial part in getting all the seniors through the college application process. If the rumors are true, and counselors will be cut from the budget, student success rates is sure to decrease throughout the county.

Having class sizes increase, when many are already packed to capacity, will put more stress on teachers, many who already feel overburdened, and decrease the amount of attention that can be given to individual students’ needs. This could cause massive disruptions which would negatively impact everyone’s learning environment.

One extremely controversial cost-cutting measure is the suggested elimination of foreign language immersion programs in elementary schools. Decreasing students’ opportunities to learn different languages will decrease the academic rigor that the Fairfax County Public School system is known for. Students that learn other languages early, whether it be through the immersion program or in the elementary schools, have the least trouble getting used to taking a language in high school. They go farther with that language than those who aren’t presented with opportunity before eighth grade.

“Immersion is quite possibly the best thing that has ever happend to me,” commented senior Kelly Slatery. “I never had to learn another language because I was exposed to Spanish at such a young age I didn’t even notice. Language in general is so beneficial to any profession in the future there is no reason to take the opportunity away from children.”

It is also rumored that there could be a “user payment” for all students who want to try out for a school sport. That is, if a student wants to try out for field hockey in the fall, basketball in the winter, and lacrosse in the spring that student would have to pay three different fees. In other words, before knowing if a student has made the team or not, he or she would have to pay. Students could end up paying money just to be cut from a team, and not getting their fee refunded.

Despite all the controversy surrounding the various proposals, no one is questioning that these changes could save a lot of money in the school system, and there are going to have to be reductions no matter what. Unfortunately no one seems to be happy with these different options.

In a recent school board meeting, FCPS superintendent Dr. Karen Garza told school board members,  “People have been asking, ‘Will there be cuts?’ And I think that question was already answered for us, there will be reductions. But what those reductions will be is the question before us.”

The future financial stability of the Fairfax County Public School system is uncertain, and what can be done about it is and unclear at this point. Educators, who are vital to children’s’ futures, are at risk. Many families will be harshly affected by the changes that are brought about by the budget shortfall. Everyone is waiting to see what future school years have in store for the students and faculty.