FCPS Budget Considerations

May 2, 2017 Upcoming May 16th FCPS Budget public hearing to include 0.5 student across-the-board increase in core academic class sizes topic. A PETITION  to oppose this position was started. Citizen participation is encouraged.  Testify at the May 16, 2017 FCPS School Board public hearings on the FY18 proposed budget https://www.fcps.edu/school-board/citizen-participation.
CSC opposes the proposed 0.5 student across-the-board increase, which will cause more students to be assigned to classes with 30+ students. We urge the School Board and FCPS Staff:
  • Not to increase elementary, middle and high school class sizes by 0.5 students
  • To comply with FCPS Regulation 1302.1, which caps elementary class sizes at 29.
April 5   Update, Alert & Concern Over Increasing Class Sizes in 2018 FCPS Budget

At an FCPS School Board (SB) working meeting on the topic of budget, the issue of core academic class sizes and INCREASING them by .5 to 1.0 student per class was discussed. (View Feb 23 Budget Work Session transcript HERE – class size) Only 4 SB members – Hough, Schultz, Wilson and Mclaughlin – clearly stated NO to increasing class sizes.

The interim Superintendent presented the proposed FY2018 FCPS budget on Thursday January 12, 2017. Details on the 2018 Budget Process may be found here.
Consider signing up to speak at the following public hearings in support of transparent, safe and quality class sizes in all FCPS classes.
Public Hearings Scheduled for 2016-2017:
  • FY 2018 Advertised Budget – January 30, 2017 -January 31/February 1, 2017 if needed – Speakers list opens January 12, 2017; closes January 27, 2017.
  • FY 2018 Approved Budget – May 16, 2017, and May 17, 2016 (if needed) – Speakers list opens May 2, 2017; closes May 15, 2017.

View FY2016 Approved Budget documents here.

View FY2016 Budget Questions, asked by the School Board and Board of Supervisors here.

Budget-related questions are asked by the School Board throughout the budget development process. Questions and responses from 2006-2016 are available on this link also.


FCPS obtains funds from three major sources:  the federal, state and local governments.   Each funds programs that reduce class sizes in some FCPS schools.  The combined impact of those programs largely explains why FCPS has roughly 1000 elementary school classes this year with 20 or fewer students.

 a.         Federal Title 1 Funds

The federal government is providing about $17 million Title 1 grants to FCPS in FY 2015.   FCPS chooses to use the Title 1 funds to benefit all students (regardless of their socioeconomic status) at 39 elementary schools where over 42% of the students receive FRM, plus one elementary school in the City of Fairfax that receives targeted assistant for its disadvantaged students.   Funds are allocated to each of those 40 schools based on the number of FRM students at each school. http://www.fcps.edu/is/titlei/schools.shtml

The FY 2015 Program Budget Book indicates that out of that $14.2 of the Title 1 funds are spent in the schools and the remaining $2.4 million is spent on central department staff and expenses.  On average, this amounts to $350,000 for each Title 1 elementary school, which could pay for three to four teachers.

b.         State K-3 Class Size Reduction Initiative

The state provides a $4.8 million grant to FCPS in FY 2015 to reduce K through 3rd grade class sizes in about 40 elementary schools with the highest FRM percentages, which typically also receive federal Title 1 grant funds.  That equals over $100,000 per school, which is enough to pay for about one additional teacher.

According to page 24 of the FY 2015 Program Budget Book, state K-3 grants are now treated as a revenue offset for the FCPS elementary core instructional program. http://www.fcps.edu/fs/budget/documents/approved/FY15/ProgramBudgetFY15.pdf

However, principals in these schools have the ability to “trade” classroom teacher positions, so that the actual class sizes in these schools do not fully reflect the benefits of the Title 1 and state funding.

c.          Locally-Funded FCPS Programs

The County provides most of the funds to run the school system, which are derived primarily from local property taxes.  Those funds pay for a wide range of programs, which are summarized in the FY 2015 Program Budget Book.  http://www.fcps.edu/fs/budget/budgetdocuments.shtml

Numerous FCPS programs provide further resources to students who receive FRM or ESOL services and/or their schools. Two of the largest are summarized below.

i.          Needs-Based Staffing Program

The FCPS needs-based staffing program directly affects class sizes in more than half the elementary, middle and high schools.  According to pages 122-123 of the FY 2015 Program Budget Book, FCPS will spend $43.1 million in FY 2015 to provide extra resources to schools where more than 20% of the students qualify for FRM.

ii.         English for Speakers of Other Languages

Page 106 of the FY 2015 Program Budget Book explains the $80.3 million ESOL program, of which $14.8 million is funded by federal and state grants.  $78.4 of that $80.3 million is allocated to “school-based expenses,” and pays for 682.2 ESOL teachers and over 100 other employees who are considered school-based.

These additional ESOL teacher and non-teacher positions – are allocated to elementary, middle and high schools based on the same types of formulas that are used to allocate additional teachers and other staff under the needs-based staffing formula, where more personnel are allocated to schools if its ESOL students have the weakest (Level 1 and 2) English skills.

FCPS Budget Cycle

  • January: FCPS Superintendent proposes next year’s FCPS budget.
  • February: School Board votes for next year’s Advertised Budget.
  • April: School Board presents Advertised Budget to Board of Supervisors.
  • April/May:  Supervisors decide the tax rate and amount of transfer to FCPS.
  • May:  School Board votes for Approved Budget.


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