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F.C. School Board Begins Making Tough Decisions on FY11 Budget

The City of Falls Church School Board met for most of the day Saturday in its first work session directed toward major reductions in the upcoming Fiscal Year 2011 budget.

“Without question, this is the most difficult budget year I’ve faced in my six years with the school division,” Superintendent Lois Berlin said in a statement issued today. “We’re talking about potential cuts that would have an impact on our ability to deliver instruction in a manner that makes Falls Church a desirable place to live and work. However, we are committed to providing the best possible service to our students with whatever resources we have.” The final vote on the budget will be taken by the School Board on March 2.

Berlin reiterated Saturday the four alternatives for the coming budget, based on “best case” (a 1.8 percent reduction) to “worst case” (8.6 percent reduction) scenarios in both operating and personnel costs. She said she felt the actual cuts would be somewhere in between the best and worst options. The scenarios involve a seven percent reduction in non-personnel costs and the elimination or reduction of up to 24 staff positions. They also involve a reduction of two staff work days for all employees, reductions in employee benefits, reductions in music, art, foreign language and kindergarten programs, reductions or elimination of extracurricular stipends, including athletics, academics and performing arts, reductions or elimination of tuition assistance programs for staff, implementation of student activity and parking fees, transferring the cost of IB and AP exams from the schools to families, and tuition charges for typical peers to attend the school division’s pre-school program.

A public hearing on the budget options will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 26, at the Council chambers in the F.C. City Hall, with follow-on public hearings each of the following two Tuesdays.  A second work session will be held this Saturday, Feb. 6, beginning at 8:30 a.m. in the conference room at the School Board offices, 800 W. Broad. The overall budget is subject to approval by the Falls Church City Council, and that decision will be made on April 26.