Falls Church City Schools Superintendent Peter Noonan made official to the School Board Tuesday night that his recommendation for the coming fiscal year budget is a restrained two percent growth, which if adopted by the board and later this spring by the Falls Church City Council would be the smallest growth increase for the City’s schools in years. His proposal for a $52,137,504 budget would keep the schools within parameters of expected revenue growth for the Falls Church city government overall in the coming fiscal year, and if adopted would mean that a new overall City-schools budget could involve no real estate tax increase for citizens this coming year.
Still, Noonan’s recommended budget provides a “step,” according to the schools’ salary formula an average of a 2.95 percent increase, and a one percent cost of living adjustment (COLA) for school teachers and other employees, and increases the average educational cost per student to $19,152 for the 2,680 students in the system due to, Noonan said, the policy commitment to maintain small class sizes.
The School Board will begin its own deliberations on the budget with a work session next Tuesday night, aiming toward its formal budget adoption by Feb. 19, following a series of work sessions and public hearings. The board will be led this year by Erin Gill, voted unanimously the new chair at Tuesday’s meeting, and Greg Anderson, voted the new vice chair.
Noonan’s recommendations include allowing, by attrition, the downsizing by five of positions from across the system, while not impacting class sizes. and resultant savings from salary turnover, from a reduction in post-employment benefits, from transitional retirement programs. This is associated with lower than projected growth this last year, and in another notable move, the decision by the administration to lower the Weldon Cooper enrollment estimate for next fall from a projected 54 new students next September to 24, anticipating 30 fewer mostly kindergarten and lower grade students.