The Falls Church School Board’s unanimous approval Tuesday night of its proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2024, includes a provision that makes the Falls Church Public Schools the first in the commonwealth of Virginia to offer paid parental leave. That proposed budget now goes to Falls Church City Manager Wyatt Shields who will wrap it into his overall budget recommendation for the coming fiscal year that he will present later this month, and that the City Council will then vote on at the end of April.
The School Board budget proposal complies with the City Council’s guidance to limit growth to 4.2 percent, down from last year’s 8.4 percent, and it marks the fifth consecutive year the School Board has held its budget request to within such City Council guidance.
The approved budget calls for an increase of $1,958,236 in local funding. At the same time, the addition of expected state and federal revenue brings the total budget to a 5.1 percent above the FY 2023 approved budget.
“We’re proud to present a budget that aligns with the FCCPS Strategic Plan and provides our staff with the resources they need to succeed,” said School Board Chair Laura Downs. “Our teachers and staff are critical to the success of our students, and we’re committed to supporting them in every way possible.”
The School Board’s Budget reflects significant action on the FCCPS Strategic Plan, entitled ‘Investing in Our People,’ which aims to ensure that the Falls Church Public School system “provides the best compensation and working conditions in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” according to Superintendent Dr. Peter Noonan.
The compensation and benefits included in the School Board’s budget that most impact staff are the following:
A STEP increase for all eligible employees,
A 2 percent Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for all employees,
A $1,000 longevity bonus for those who are at the end of the salary scale and not eligible for a STEP increase,
Six weeks of paid parental leave for employees who have a new child,
An increased payout of sick leave upon separation from FCCPS from $3 per hour to $15 per hour,
Health rate adjustment for all eligible part-time employees to lower the employee-paid portion of the premium, and
Increases the advanced academic teacher position at Oak Street Elementary to full-time.
The School Board conducted three budget work sessions and two public hearings before the final vote on last night’s budget.
Now, as Shields crafts his overall budget recommendation to the City Council, the news came last week that projected revenues, based on real estate assessments reported in last week’s edition, will come in higher than earlier thought.
As a result, the News-Press has learned that Shields will now be proposing a 5 percent hike in City salaries, up from 4.5 percent being considered earlier. He shared his vision on the City’s weekly conference call with division heads this Monday.
Other challenges his budget will attempt to address include the new focus on national cybersecurity priorities, and a list of over $2 million in expected unmet needs in various City divisions.