Local Schools

Interesting Facts about Fairfax County public Schools:


The Fairfax County Public School (FCPS) system is the 13th largest in the nation.  FCPS educates over 167,000 students and have 197 schools and centers.  FCPS’s operating budget is $2.3 billion and we are considered one of the largest employers in the state. Approximately 92% of FCPS personnel are based in our schools and recently Newsweek ranked all of FCPS’s high schools in the top 3 percent in the nation. 


Click below for more interesting facts on

Facts of Fairfax County Schools



Dave attended Fairfax County Public Schools.  He attended Rolling Valley Elementary, Washington Irving Intermediate and West Springfield High School.


Dave is still actively involved in our schools.  He teaches 4th graders and High School Seniors about Virginia State Government.


“My goal is to give our kids the same great education I had at Fairfax County public schools -- great teachers and small class sizes!”
            Delegate Dave Albo

Lowering Class Sizes by Putting Your Money in the Classroom

Delegate Dave Albo's 65% Plan:
More Money Into the Classroom, and Out of the Board Room

Delegate Dave Albo proposes legislation that, as a condition of receiving state funds for education, every school district in the State, including Fairfax County, must implement a plan to spend at least 65% of its operating budget in the classroom. Specifically;

•Each school district must allocate at least 65% of its operating budget to classroom instruction as defined by the Federal Government's National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES).

•If a school district is currently spending less than 65% on instruction, it must increase classroom spending by 2% each year until the 65% goal is met. (In Fairfax County's case the 65% goal would be reached in less than 2 years.)

•If extraordinary circumstances prevented a school district from reallocating 2% or from reaching the 65% goal, it could ask the Virginia Secretary of Education for a one-year waiver.

•The Virginia Legislature will reduce non-classroom state mandates to free school districts to allocate funds from administration and support to the classroom.

To achieve the 65% goal, school districts in Virginia can cut spending on administration and perks. For example, the Fairfax School Superintendent is paid over $300,000 per year -- over twice the Governor's salary. Reducing administrative and support staff, cutting car allowances and out of state travel and eliminating other such excesses easily could free the needed funds for classrooms and teaching. Dave Albo's 65% Plan only calls for a 3.5% administration & support cut, to be implemented over 2 years. The goal is certainly modest and achievable.What Fairfax County Public Schools can get by merely transferring 3.5% from Administration & Support to the Classroom:

While a 3.5% transfer is modest, its dividends to our children's education is immense!

•1243 New teachers with Masters Degrees

•A significant raise for every teacher ($7, 737/teacher), to bring and keep the best educators in Fairfax County

•Reduction of student-teacher ratio from 25:1 to 21:1

•50,000 laptop computers (A laptop for every high school student)

•An extra $313.30 for each student in Fairfax County for textbooks, music & art supplies, physical education equipment, and educational trips.

65% works in other states and it can work here!

The U.S. Department of Education (DoE) data, collected uniformly for every school district in the United States and reported in November 2004 by the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES), shows that Utah, Tennessee, Maine and New York spend 65% or more on in-classroom instruction. . (It should be noted that Fairfax County categorizes it budget differently than the categories used by the NCES. While both the County and NCES numbers are the same, the differences in categories lead to very different perceived results. The NCES categories are the only known uniform nationwide source of data. Thus, the NCES results provide the only known basis for comparisons of school districts within Virginia and Nationally.)

Utah, Tennessee, Maine and New York states are very different. They vary, among other things, in school population, climate, geography and wealth. Achievement of the 65% goal in these 4 very different states indicate that Dave Albo's 65% Plan can work in our state and within our budget constraints

A private research firm, Standard and Poor's, compared school budgets and student performance across the Nation and concluded that increased spending does not guarantee a better result in student achievement. Standard and Poor's analysis showed Utah, Maine, and New York public schools performed at a level higher than national average in Science, Writing, Reading, and Math (see also National Assessment of Educational Progress or the "Nation's Report Card").


How money is spent within a school system is as critical, if not more so, than how much is spent.


The ultimate goal is to get the best return on educational funding, as determined by student proficiency in core subjects (reading, writing and math), SOL test results, college prep data (SAT scores and participation rates) and high school graduation rates. The only way to increase performance is by putting the most money possible into the classroom.

Politicians always say they want to lower class sizes and increase teacher pay, but Dave Albo is the only legislator that has a proven method to actually accomplish it.

The 65% initiative promotes local and state government accountability to you, the taxpayers. While School Boards will retain local control and be able to write its own budgets, they must make sure that at least 65% of the operating budget goes toward classroom instruction. Thus, we can ensure that we are getting the most out of our education system and providing the best possible education for our children.

By transferring 3.5% from administration to the classroom within the current operating budget level we can give our students a better education and not need to raise the real estate tax or any other tax to accomplish our goal.

Education Funding and Accountability


Since Dave Albo took office in 1993, state funding for K-12 (Kindergarden through 12th grade) education has increased over 100%!  Because of this funding, according to the National Education Association Annual Report, Virginia has the 3rd lowest student teacher ratio in the U.S.  But we all know that throwing money at a problem does not guarantee success.  That is why Dave was a Co-sponsor to Virginia’s higher standards of learning.  While they were initially controversial, these higher standards have been immensely successful. Since the first year of SOL testing in 1998, Virginia students have improved at an incredible pace, with proficiency increases in 20 of the 22 measured academic areas.

FUNDING


Virginia has increased funding for K-12 education in each of the 15 years Delegate Dave Albo has served in the House of Delegates.


Here are the General Fund appropriations for K-12 spending since I have been in office (270% increase - far above population and inflation.  So don’t let Albo detractors get away with saying “Dave Albo cut education”, because it is factually not true):


2009- $6,289,322,506

2008- $5,832,042,771

2007- $5,651,090,183

2006- $4,993,736,525

2005- $4,653,203,619

2004- $4,059,373,751

2003- $3,923,268,185

2002- $4,025,317,111

2001- $3,942,411,254

2000- $3,618,628,551

1999- $3,434,301,374

1998- $2,998,350,901

1997- $2,886,670,371

1996- $2,730,596,216

1995- $2,572,565,299

1994- $2,328,795,994

Look who came to visit me in Richmond - My fellow Rolling Valley Elem. friends, and the Miller family!  James Miller (grey shirt) was one of my artists who had his painting displayed in the General Assembly!  James is a Rolling Valley student, like me!

 Great ways to put our tax money into the Classroom and into Construction and Renovation!!!



The Herrity Report

The School Budget - Changing the Equation

March 23, 2009

 

  1. The School Budget - Changing the Equation

  2. Restoring Capital Funding for Classroom Construction and Renovation

 

The School Budget - Changing the Equation

 

Our world-class schools are the number one reason businesses and families are attracted to Fairfax County.  That quality carries a price.  The school system accounts for more than half (54 percent) of all county funding.  The County is facing a funding shortfall of $650 million this year.  Still, even in this difficult economic climate we need to ensure the quality of our schools.  However, this does not excuse the school budget from the healthy scrutiny these tough times dictate.  It is past time to change the equation on how we discuss the school budget.

The old equation repeated year after year is to exact pressure on the Board of Supervisors to give more money to schools by putting unpopular cuts and damaging reductions to children on the table.  Every budget cycle, we go through the same formula: the School Board and staff warn that if they don't get the money they requested, teacher salaries will be cut, our competitiveness will be lost, class sizes will be increased, and a sport (pick one, it changes every year) will be eliminated. 

 

It's time for a new equation, one that relies on fiscal transparency, accountability, and efficiency.  We must direct resources to our students and their classrooms.  We must be vigilant and evaluate administrative overhead and school operations to maximize money for teachers and classrooms.  In trying economic times that are resulting in cuts to fire, police, and nearly every service supported by the County, the school system is asking for an additional $25 million.  Clearly, there is need for an open dialogue on how to fund our priorities without asking for more from taxpayers.

 

I believe this starts with having the School Board and staff make some tough choices in areas that have not been openly discussed in the past.  These include the following:

 

  1. Need Justification for School Population Increases - The school budget currently includes $40 million for a projected increase of 4,400 students next year.  School staff cites "feelings" and "intuition" for its belief that more students will arrive from Prince William and that there will be a shift from private schools.  The increase in students moving into Fairfax County in response to policies implemented by Prince William County did create a one-time spike of around 2,500 students in the school population last year.  But without any sound justification, schools have turned that blip into a trend.  In fact, evidence shows that the migration has stopped.  More disturbing, FCPS has not analyzed where the 600 new students joining so far this year came from.  The consequence for the lack of diligence is potentially significant and could cost taxpayers $40 million!  That is a huge price tag for students who may never show up in our schools.  And if the projections aren't accurate?  Once this money is provided to the schools, it will never find its way back to taxpayers, classrooms or teachers' salaries.

  2. Why Do We Have 17 Assistant Superintendents? - We have 17 assistant superintendents who individually earn a six-figure salary.  In addition, each attends to a related bureaucracy.  Our need for such positions should be re-evaluated for efficiencies and cost savings.

  3. Investigate the Assistant Principal to Student Ratio - Fairfax County has a ratio of one assistant principal for approximately every 400 students.  The average of surrounding localities, including Arlington and Montgomery Counties, is one assistant principal for every 566 students.  Bringing our ratio in line with surrounding localities would save up to $12million.

  4. Consolidate School and County Resources - I proposed last October to find efficiencies in our budget by combining resources between our county government and schools, like libraries, human resources departments, legal counsel, and financial systems.  The Chairman of the Board of Supervisors has taken on this effort but has had only one meeting since I made my proposal in October.

  5. Moving to a 21st Century Transportation System - Transportation is a major cost of the school system yet we still plan our bus routes with paper, scissors, and envelopes.  By in large, the effort is managed by 22 former school bus drivers.  It is time we move into the 21st century and automate the process.

  6. Transportation Fuel Cost Estimates - While there has been significant price variability in energy costs in recent years, to say the school's funding request for transportation fuel costs seems excessive would be an understatement.  Diesel prices that are now in the $2.10 - $2.40 range would have to reach the $5.00 - $5.20 price range in FY 2010 to justify the FCPS proposed budget.  Adjusting cost estimates to be more in line with historical price change averages would result in savings of $5 million - $6 million.

  7. Implement Lease Savings Identified in the Gatehouse II Proposal - The School Board's proposal to build a new administrative building featured many cost-saving actions, like consolidating warehouse space and eliminating above market leases that expire this year  that can still be implemented without the purchase of the building.  The school budget doesn't currently reflect these potential savings.

  8. Do We Need Twice the Administration? - Since I attended our schools, we've grown from four "areas" to eight "clusters," doubling our school bureaucracy and the administrative needs associated with such a growth.  The need for eight clusters needs to be revisited especially in light of recent School Board initiated studies that propose to look at the school system based on four geographic areas.

  9. Is the Division of Instructional Services Helping Or Hurting Our Teachers? - Do we need 470 people in the Division of Instructional Services writing lesson plans that are basically ignored based on my conversations with teachers?  We need instructors in our classrooms, not writing administrators writing lesson plans.  How many of these positions could be eliminated and returned to the classroom?

Increased class sizes and having our teachers fall further behind other area schools in salaries is not acceptable.  We need to begin an open and honest discussion about the school budget.

It is the aim of every public official in Fairfax County to ensure that Fairfax County schools remain the best in the nation.  Unfortunately, we too often overlook common sense solutions to our problems.  I hope we use the current economic and budget challenges to start a discussion on changing the equation of the school budget and usher in an era of fiscal transparency, accountability, and efficiency.  It is high time to renew our focus on teachers and improving class sizes.  Please ask your School Board member to change the equation.  Ask for the money we need to ensure the continued success of our schools.  But also put the tough questions to the School Board and administrators to make sure your tax dollars are being used wisely-for our students, our teachers, and our classrooms. 

 

Restoring Capital Funding for Classroom Construction and Renovation

 

In the advertised budget, the County Executive proposed cutting school capital construction from $155 million to $140 million because we were bumping up against our self imposed 10 percent cap for debt repayment.  The 10 percent cap is an important factor in keeping our AAA bond rating.  During their push for Gatehouse II, the school system came up with a creative way to increase the funding available under the 10 percent debt cap.  They pledged the operating funds they receive annually from the state for debt repayment.  This increased the size of the number the debt cap is calculated on.  The school staff justified this by saying the Gatehouse II proposal resulted in operating savings (a point I disputed in my opposition to Gatehouse II).  From my conversations with School Board members, they were not aware the deal involved pledging these funds.

A world-class school system is built in the halls of our schools, not in the halls of administration.  If pledging these funds was good enough for an administrative building - one would assume it would be good enough for desperately needed school construction and renovation.  School construction and renovation save operating funds.  West Springfield High School alone had over 3,000 work orders last year - the vast majority had to do with the age of the building.  New HVAC units are vastly cheaper to operate than the units currently in our older school buildings.  Our school construction and renovation needs are staggering.  Langley High School, the high school at the top of this list awaiting renovation, will not have ground broken on for another decade based on current schedules.  West Springfield High School, further down on the priority list, and many of our other buildings will be over 60 years old before they will be renovated.

Pledging these operating funds is not a decision to be taken lightly.  The proposal needs to be fully vetted by the school board and the community.  But it is increasingly clear-we need innovative solutions if we want to continue to strengthen Fairfax County's schools.