Checking the two lead stories in this edition, the City of Falls Church is really on a roll when it comes to economic development. One story touts the imminent advance of yet another mixed use project in the center of town, and the other highlights the impending opening of the long-awaited new multi-screen, dine at your seat movie complex. Both stories include lots of other things going on around these developments, as well.
Then checking the Guest Commentary by Falls Church Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Peter Noonan, in this same edition, the news is equally upbeat from that quarter. Who would have imagined that, just after completion of the amazing $120 million new Meridian High School facility, that the City schools would be crowing about their best budget in history, with more capacity to meet student and faculty needs than perhaps any one before?
Well, to citizens in the little City, who last year began to see their tax rates go down in the midst of all this new investment, modernization and spending, find these combinations of factors to not be odd in the least. Booming economic development and booming public education go hand in hand, and to the benefit of individual taxpayers, no less.
This is definitely at odds with popular opinion, which wrongly views of all these things as elements of a “zero sum” game. That is, out of a fixed pie, either you spend on one thing or another, but there is a finite resource pool from which to draw. If the schools are given an advantage, then it must be at the expense of local businesses or taxpayers, and also the other way around. For years, pro-education elements of the community felt themselves at war with the business community and vice versa. So it is in many places today, and so it was in Falls Church.
That was until the mighty News-Press showed up, at least. It was the passion of our founder and editor to crusade on the notion that economic development enlarges the whole economic pie that pays for schools, and that good schools spur economic development and property values. It was a hard sell for years, and it was when our chief became president of the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce in the early 1990s that he was able to put his theory into practice, with the Chamber, at his initiative, stunning the local community by endorsing the School Board’s push for more funds.
It was a hard fight, but the notion began to catch on by 2000, and the rest, as they say, is history. Not a lot of people in this town are willing to give credit where it is due on such matters. But it is true nonetheless. Look at Falls Church today where it is headed. Every once in a while, it helps to remind folks that they can thank the mighty Falls Church News-Press for a good deal of it.