At a 7 a.m. special meeting this morning, all members of the Falls Church School Board were present to address questions put to them last Friday by the F.C. City Council, but to affirm their solidarity in support of the use of $500,000 in funds from the $3 million FY12 budget surplus for much-needed technology upgrades throughout the school system.
Two members of the City Council, Phil Duncan and David Tarter, were also present this morning, and School Board chair Susan Kearney told the News-Press that she is preparing a memo to circulate to the Council today in advance of tonight’s Council work session to outline the School Board’s position. Kearney and School Superintendent Dr. Toni Jones will also be at tonight’s Council work session to talk with the Council if requested to do so.
This morning, Kearney said, the School Board maintained its “abiding belief” that expenditure decisions for the schools “should be made by the School Board, who are the experts” on the subject. She said the board members were puzzled that the Council could take funds for operating functions, including legal fees, off the top of the surplus, on the one hand, and then insist that all the portion of the budget designated for the schools be allocated to capital improvement reserves, only.
She said that the board expressed eagerness to work with the Council on a three-way split of the surplus, some to the City, some to the Schools, to be determined by the Schools, and some as a rebate back to taxpayers.
As to the question of utilizing the Schools’ carryover from its previous year to fund the technology needs, she said such a suggestion reflects “a lack of understanding of how fund balance funds are deployed in the Schools’ budget and “how they flow.”
The School Board also discussed how the process on deployment of the surplus has been “done badly” by the Council to this point.
Following tonight’s City Council work session, the Council will vote on the deployment of the surplus at its next general business meeting next Monday, Aug. 13.