Garza talks 2017 budget at student press conference

Garza talks 2017 budget at student press conference

Leslie Davis, Editor-in-Chief

On Wednesday, September 23, Superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools, Dr. Karen Garza, held a press conference for the county’s high school publications, primarily focusing on the 2017 budget shortfall.

Garza explained that the $100 million shortfall has been predicted for many years due to increasing cost drivers on the budget such as growing student enrollment, increasing teacher salaries, and a state required retirement increase.

“It is not sustainable for us to have to experience cuts year after year… We need a long term solution,” said Garza.

In August, the Budget Task Force published a draft of potential reductions for FCPS, including a reduction to the higher academic program offered at various high schools, the International Baccalaureate Program (IB). This potential reduction considered decreasing supplemental staffing for each IB school, potentially saving FCPS $1.2 million.

“I think it would be difficult to cut the IB program. We have students in the pipeline, we’ve invested lots of resources into the programs and the training for teachers, and I think our community values the IB programs where we have those programs, so I’d hate for us to pull those out,” said Garza.

Garza also explained that if the IB programs were cut, the change would not be in the coming year since some students are currently working towards the IB diploma.

At this point in time, Garza said that the possible reductions suggested by the Task Force have not been filtered through, so it is still too early to definitively announce which expenses will be eliminated.

Garza urged students and the community to weigh into the 2017 budget discussions by accessing the county’s Budget Proposal Tool on the FCPS website and also by contacting elected representatives to vocalize more perspectives.

Using the community’s and Task Force’s suggestions, Garza said she will bring a “certain lens” when assessing the possible reductions for the budget.

“Whatever cuts I finally recommend on Jan. 7 will be those that I think, at least in my view, will have the least appreciable effect on our system” said Garza.