Noonan: Downsized School Budget Will Not Include Layoffs

THE FALLS CHURCH School Board as “assembled” online for its meeting Tuesday night. (Photo: News-Press)

Echoing the same policy contained in Falls Church City Manager Wyatt Shields’ comments Monday night about about planning for a major downward revision in the coming fiscal year budgets, F.C. Schools Superintendent Peter Noonan told the School Board at its online meeting Tuesday night that adjustments to the schools’ budget will also not include any layoffs of current personnel.

“Clearly, things have changed really dramatically in the last month (with the lockdown reaction to the Covid-19 pandemic), but we do not expect any reduction in force,” he said. 

In terms of priorities, he noted that the budget the School Board adopted in February put force compensation at the top of the list, and that will remain the same as the Schools contemplate the implications of steep revenue shortfalls being passed on by the City to the Schools that are expected to range between $1.7 and $3.5 million  in the current FY20 fiscal year that could result in a $0.6 to $1.2 million shortfall in the City’s transfer to the Schools.   

He proposed that the School Board adopt a new modified budget reflecting this reality at its work session next week ahead of the City Council’s commencing with a revised City budget starting April 27 and due for adoption on May 26. Even in a week, Noonan suggested, the severity of the shortfalls should be better if still not fully known.   

Meanwhile, the fourth quarter of learning by students in the Falls Church schools began with online classes today, and Noonan reported the attendance rate was over 90 percent for students at the high school and middle school levels, a bit lower in grades below that. Caps and gowns for high school graduation have arrived, he said, as plans are still afoot for how to duly celebrate the graduation of the high school seniors in the system