by Jakob Cole

Recently at the FCPS news conference in Merrifield, VA, Superintendent Karen Garza addressed many issues regarding Fairfax County Public Schools. The main topic discussed at the conference was the heavily talked about budget shortfall of FY 2017. FCPS is predicting a substantial budget shortfall for next year that will have serious consequences throughout the county.

“We knew this was coming for a while,” said Superintendent Garza. Among the casualties FCPS may have to resort to are cutting, reducing or redesigning current programs. Stakeholders have the ability to submit specific proposals on how to balance the budget using the Budget Proposal Tool.

FCPS expects to face budget cuts up to $70 million for the 2016-2017 school year. Due to the increased growth of the largest public school system in Virginia, revenue just could not make up the difference. “It comes down to the fact that we need to cut expenses to meet revenue,” said Garza.

This leads to the inevitable question: What will be cut? This is a question that the school board leaders will continue to contemplate.  “We will accept weigh-in from the public. We don’t know which specific classes will be cut next year. It’s too early to know what exactly will be cut,” added Garza.

Budget concerns were at the forefront of the conversation.
Budget concerns were at the forefront of the conversation.

Among other issues discussed at the press conference was overpopulation in schools in the area, including Stuart and Falls Church High School. Over the past few years, the population size of each incoming freshman class has grown drastically. From the 2012-2013 school year to the 2014-2015 school year, attendance has increased by 1,172 students. To address this issue, Garza addressed possible solutions at Stuart. “In terms of expansion, it is tough because Stuart is landlocked. We may consider adding a third floor there,” said Garza.

Another issue close to Stuart is the IB Program. When asked about the possibility of cutting the IB Program, Garza that cutting the IB Program would not be an option they would consider. “We do not want to cut the IB Program. We cannot just cut it out while we still have students currently enrolled in the program,” said Garza.

Garza also addressed SIS, Student Information System, which connects parents to the classroom. Parents can now access their children’s grades whenever they want through the use of SIS.

“Implementation has been in process for five years,” said Garza. “So far, we haven’t heard any concerns.”

The main issue that will affect everything else will be the budget cuts. Every other problem stems from what will happen with the new budget. From that point, we will see if other issues in Fairfax County can be addressed. Until then, it is just a guessing game.

photo by Brianna Ford