.

School Board Passes Budget With Full-Day Kindergarten, Teacher Raises, Athletic Fee Cap

School board members say future budgets must better address teacher raises, per pupil funding

The Fairfax County School Board approved a 1 percent pay raise for employees and county-wide full-day kindergarten with a unanimous passage of a $2.2 billion fiscal year 2012 budget late Thursday night.

A handful of parents supporting full-day kindergarten, all dressed in white shirts as a show of solidarity for their cause, cheered when the budget finally passed. They hoisted placards thanking school officials for implementing “full-day K” after the vote was final.

“It is unfair to deny students the same educational opportunity as their peers just because of the neighborhood in which their parents live,” said board member Elizabeth Bradsher (Springfield). “We’re correcting that tonight.”

The vote will put full-day kindergarten in place at by the start of the next school year. The school board did not address how the system would hire, or make space for additional classrooms.

Board member Jane Strauss (Dranesville) said she is “delighted” that all schools will receive full-day kindergarten next year.

“We are at that point where the curriculum has changed for our newest and youngest students when they come to us at five,” she said. “Our curriculum in kindergarten is premised on a full-day program, and we can’t deliver it to those children in half the time.”

Board member Tina Hone (at-large) agreed that part-time kindergartners had been deprived of educational opportunities, but rejected the notion that parents pushing for full-day kindergartner “were the most effective advocates we’d ever seen.”

“The majority of us wanted to do full-day K, so you were not – they were not swimming against the tide,” Hone said. “And I think it’s crucial that the generosity that we showed as a board to the full-day K is a generosity we extend to all of our parents who are advocating for things, even if they are for things we as a board do not necessarily support.”

The approved 1 percent pay hike fell short of the 2 percent raise included in Superintendent Jack Dale’s initial budget proposal. Still, several school board members called it a step in the right direction.

“My sincere apologies to all our staff that it doesn’t go far enough,” school board vice-chair Brad Center said. “I just, frankly, couldn’t find another way to increase where we are in the way of compensation. It’s a down payment that needs to be addressed as the years continue.”

The Fairfax Education Association, a union that represents county teachers, had said at past work sessions they hoped a lower-than-expected raise would be complemented with a review of teacher workload. The issue was not mentioned by board members Thursday nightt.

Board members in a budget amendment . A second amendment to increase student parking fees from $200 to $225, made by board member Jim Raney (at-large), failed following a lengthy discussion.

The board voted to make up for the revenue it will lose in capping the athletic fee by reducing the $10,000 given to each of the county's 26 high schools for processing payments to $4,400.

Before casting their final budget votes, each of the dozen school board members spoke at length, sharing their thoughts about the budget process and other topics. For several board members not running for re-election, it was their last chance to make such a post-budget speech.

Board member Stuart Gibson (Hunter Mill) said he found this year’s budget process – his 16th and last as a school board member – to be “bittersweet.” He reminded attendees that Fairfax County has no control over how much money comes into the system through taxes or legislative allocation.

“There is something inherently wrong about a system that elects school board members, and then tasks them with the impossible task of educating nearly 180,000 students to very high standards without giving them the resources to do it,” he said. “I would encourage people as we move forward to plan next year’s budget that we ask the tough questions: How are we going to address the long-term funding needs of our schools and our children?”

Strauss said while it’s fine to take a moment to celebrate funding certain programs like full day kindergarten, she urged everyone to remember that the school system is still in a position of having to make continued cuts.

“World class schools are what this community wants,” she said. “In spite of tight budgets, we have to find a way to provide that.”

FFX County Resident May 31, 2011 at 12:20 PM
PART IV- But, those are only my personal opinions. I have noticed in the last few board meetings and discussions, that folks are afraid to tell the board they are wrong and even that “ the emperor has no close on”. The school board has done remarkable things in the past, I’m all gun-ho on that, don’t get me wrong, but when political influence and party lines get pulled into the decision making process, then you are bound to have corruption, which one can plainly see is occurring. Remember, a couple of thing as previously mentioned; easily solve the budget crisis by implementing and FFX County employee parking fee at county facilities and truly question the roles and responsibilities of parents with the selfishness of promoting full-day kindergarten. Find and the read the stats that says otherwise. Don't give me the crud that it's all about communication and socialization skills either. My daughter and son get plenty of that through other neighborhood kids, going to the park, soccer, and dance. Bring back the pride of being a FFX County Student. Bring back the pride of living in FFX County. Bring back the pride of being the best in the nation when it comes to our school system! And for goodness sakes, just don’t look outside the box, burn it down!
Gary June 01, 2011 at 04:22 PM
FFX County Resident, You say "Next, I truly want to see that stats on full-day kindergarten (FDK) versus half-day. I mean, if so many schools were out there for years teaching half-day, were those kids less qualified to be placed in first grade? I think not. In fact, most if not all half-day kindergarten classes excel beyond the standard FDK.". So, where are your stats? On what basis are you making the statement that half-day K kids are better prepared than FDK kids?
FFX County Resident June 02, 2011 at 11:16 AM
An excerpt from a handout by Mary Ann Rafoth, Ph.D., Beth Buzi, and Sara A. Grimes, to appear in "Helping Children at Home and School..... What Is Best for My Child? For some children and families, a good quality half-day kindergarten program will offer sufficient experiences for the development of strong school readiness and social skills, while also providing time for other life experiences within the home or other community settings. For other children, the additional time spent in the structured learning and social activities of a full-day program will provide more ideal preparation for formal education. Particularly for children who have had limited learning and social experiences, or who are at risk for later difficulties due to developmental problems, family stress, or other factors, a high quality, full-day kindergarten program may offer the best opportunity to reduce the impact of these risks from the very beginning. There is no evidence that full-day programs are harmful to children. If your child is already in a preschool program, discuss half versus full-day options with your child's early childhood teachers or day care providers. If possible, visit the options in your community, and find out more about the learning and socialization experiences they offer. Most importantly, when making decisions about full-day or half-day programs, parents should recognize that what a child does during the kindergarten day is more important than the length of the school day.
FFX County Resident June 02, 2011 at 11:20 AM
Sorry, ran out of room-that was an excerpt from: Full or Half Day Kindergarten? Suggestions for Parents From the National Association of School Psychologists by:Mary Ann Rafoth, Ph.D., Beth Buzi, and Sara A. Grimes, to appear in "Helping Children at Home and School: Handouts from Your School Psychologist, Second Edition" (National Association of School Psychologists).
FFX County Resident June 02, 2011 at 11:20 AM
Sorry, ran out of room-that was an excerpt from: Full or Half Day Kindergarten? Suggestions for Parents From the National Association of School Psychologists by:Mary Ann Rafoth, Ph.D., Beth Buzi, and Sara A. Grimes, to appear in "Helping Children at Home and School: Handouts from Your School Psychologist, Second Edition" (National Association of School Psychologists).

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something