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Falls Church Council Fails to Reach Majority Vote on Surplus

Two proposals end in a 3-3 knot sending the surplus to the general fund, not to schools, taxpayers and city government.

Amidst spirited debate and bickering, the City of Falls Church council failed to reach a unanimous vote on what to do with a more-than $3 million surplus. The surplus will now go to the city’s general fund balance.

Many in attendance had hoped that Councilman Dave Tarter’s proposal would prevail, which would have seen Falls Church City Public Schools, the city government and the taxpayers each get a third. Instead, the school system will not receive $500,000 it would like to fund technology upgrades.

“We’ll keep on working to get the money to pay for the technology in our schools,” Susan Kearney, chair of the FCCPS Board, said after the meeting.

to discuss funding the project that would bring 500 iPads and 700 laptops into the schools. Council heard a revised proposal and Tarter’s version and ended with a 3-3 vote on each. Vice Mayor Dave Snyder, who was absent because of business travel, would have been the deciding vote.

Several residents, including a rising seventh grade student at Mary Ellen Henderson Middle, spoke on behalf of a plan that would see FCCPS get the money needed for the technology upgrade.

Dr. Toni Jones, FCCPS superintendent, said technology and text books each need to be replaced every three to 5-years. With computers, she said, you receive updates for educational programs where as with textbooks, the information could be outdated each year.

“This is not about gadgets and fads,” Jones said. “We should be able to give our children the digital knowledge they need.”

Not everyone at the meeting was for giving the schools money to upgrade technology in the schools.

Bruce Swenson said he would rather see a technology fee charged to parents with kids in the schools.

Tarter said his proposal was a “win, win, win,” and provided funds to the schools, residents and city government. He said the $500,000 should be looked at as an investment in the children’s education.

“We all made campaign promises to have a world-class school system,” Tarter said. “Now it’s time we do it.”

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