Fairfax County Public Schools has found an extra $9.7 million in its Fiscal Year 2013 budget, much of which school board members voted Thursday night to set aside for its FY 2014 beginning balance — a budget year in which the system faces a $162 million deficit.
The money will increase next year's beginning balance from $41.6 million to $51.1 million.
School board members have been waiting for the outcome of a midyear budget review since the fall, as it began to grapple with a projected deficit of $93.7 million in FY 2014, a number that doesn't include another $68.4 million shortfall in "significant program needs."
At a joint meeting in November, about half of the $162 million the school system needs, according to budget documents.
School board members began to suggest finding savings in this year's budget that could be used to create a larger starting budget next year.
Staff found another $2.7 million in the system's FY 2013 beginning balance after the FY 2012 final budget review, thanks to year-end and audit adjustments that include an additional $1.8 million in sales tax revenue.
The system also gained $2.9 million in additional revenue from the City of Fairfax, whose final tuition bill was $1.8 million more than budgeted, and a $1.1 million increase in grant revenue.
A total of $4.1 million in savings was found through:
- A $2.9 million reduction in compensation accounts because the average new hire salaries were less than budgeted
- A net increase of $1.1 million in grant expenditures largely from a larger federal award for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
- $1 million in savings from giving benefits to parent liaisons and multilingual interpreters
- $0.8 million in savings for a reduction in the mandated time frame for bus inspections
- $0.5 million less in the transfer for extended school year for special education.
The board passed a motion by Sandy Evans (Mason) on Thursday to take $0.2 million of the midyear review money and put it toward increasing funding for schools for parent liaisons, to "ensure that each school receives funding in FY 2013 that is comparable to funding received in FY 2012.
A motion by Elizabeth Schultz (Springfield) to give up to $0.5 million in additional funding to teacher stipends and instructional materials for extra learning time for special education students failed.
“Just because it’s more convenient to do it later and more strategically, doesn’t mean it meets student needs," said Schultz, the lone supporter of the amendment.
But Schultz's motion to direct Superintendent Jack Dale to financially support schools in danger of canceling programs or initiatives in order to pay for hardcopy math textbooks — a response to a failed attempt to switch every Fairfax student to online math texts — passed, though it's not clear how much money that will entail.
Patch Editor Raytevia Evans reported for this story.