By Karen Goff
Millions of dollars in potential cuts from the Fairfax County Schools budget is not sitting well with most school board members.
The board held a work session Monday night to begin considering how to narrow an expected $140 million shortfall in the $2.5 billion schools budget. Growing school enrollment in one of the nation's largest districts, plus reluctance to raise taxes in Fairfax have added to the deficit.
New Schools Superintendent Karen Garza said the cuts would probably be “extraordinarily high.” Even though the school board is likely to get a 2 percent increase in funding from the county, she estimates about $100 million will have to be cut from the FY2015 budget.
Board members said Monday they did not like the idea of raising athletic fees and cutting the foreign language program in elementary schools, two cost-cutting measures on the table.
Board member Ryan McElveen (At Large) said FCPS should help students prepare to succeed in a globalizing work force in which corporations seek qualified employees who speak multiple languages, the Washington Post reported.
“In Fairfax, we believe that foreign language education is a core part of the curriculum, and for our students not to be exposed to it at an early age is an extreme lost opportunity, especially as the world becomes smaller,” McElveen said.
Other board members voted in an informal poll to retain school guidance counselors, the Post reported. If they were eliminated, it would cut about 121 staff positions and save $10 million.
Board member Megan McLaughlin (Braddock), said that with surveys showing that Fairfax students experience high rates of depression and emotional stress, cutting guidance counselors would not make sense.