With an anticipated exploding student population growth for Falls Church City Public Schools over the next several years, Superintendent Dr. Toni Jones recommended Tuesday a $41.3 million operating budget -- a spending plan up more than $3 million from the fiscal year 2013 budget.
Jones said the extra money would go toward the costs of instruction and other essentials to accommodate more students in the schools.
“We've added more than 200 students between last year and this year to our system,” Jones said Wednesday. “We are expecting another 120 students in Sept. 2013. All tolled, that's 320 students in just three years. We need more teachers, student desks, textbooks, paper, increased gasoline for additional buses, additional drivers and supplies and materials for schools.”
Jones introduced the student population driven proposed budget Tuesday night at the school board meeting.
The 8.5 percent budget increase is needed as the school system is currently funded per student well below where they were in 2007 and that's without considering inflation, she said.
The school district must also meet student and staff ratios as set by the Standards of Quality through the Virginia Department of Education. Jones said every child who enrolls in the schools comes with his or her own unique set of needs and the system must meet those needs.
FCCPS has increased by the size of Mount Daniel Elementary School since 2007 -- tremendous growth for a small school division, Jones said.
FCCPS maintains about 500,000 square feet of property, supports an organization of more than 450 employees and has four cafeterias that feed 2,272 children a day.
Jones said the school district’s main purpose is to educate children for the 21st century and every student who arrives needs access to technology, textbooks, paper, a desk and a vast array of learning tools- including excellent teachers.
Retaining and recruiting teachers to teach the students is a high priority, Jones said.
“We have a mandate by Virginia Retirement System that we must increase our salaries to match the offset by 1percent this year and we built that into the recommended budget according to the law,” Jones said. “We have given our staff a step increase this year and this is important to stay competitive with our neighboring school divisions.”