Parents, Teachers Pack F.C. School Board Meeting to Oppose Deep Budget Cuts

A standing-room-only crowd of parents and teachers packed solid the main meeting chamber at the Falls Church City Hall tonight to urge the School Board to avoid the deep cuts that are being considered due to the steep revenue shortfall facing the jurisdiction. One of the largest contingents ever seen at the chamber, with promises of more to come, included a stream of petitioners to came to the microphone to urge the School Board to pressure the City Council to minimize budget cuts.¬†Joel Block, past president of the Falls Church Education Association, said, “We have to ask for what we want, and we need what we have.”

Speakers included students from George Mason High School and M.E. Henderson Middle School. Mason Senior Jack Western, president of the student band organization, reported on a petition he’d circulated at the school urging that the at-risk position of band paraprofessional Larry Allen be protected. Allen’s position was included on a list placed on the School Board’s web site of those most likely on the chopping block in the budget deliberations. It’s a part-time position, but Allen was named the school system’s “Paraprofessional of the Year” last year for his work in the band programs for students from fourth grade through 12th.

Others also urged the School Board to retain the position of Career College Specialist at the high school currently filled by Judy Bracken. “She has been so instrumental in helping students identify and complete the application process for their best college options,” the School Board was told.

The School Board made no comments at the hearing, except to encourage participation by the public and to listen to an hour and a half of comments. The School Board will deliberate through the next month, including with more public hearings, and will approve its final budget to forward to the City Council on March 2. The City Council will then craft its budget, including its transfer to the schools, and take its final vote on April 26.