FAIRFAX COUNTY, VA — [On Saturday, Jan. 6], Fairfax County School Board Chair Karl Frisch addressed the Fairfax County delegation to the Virginia General Assembly’s pre-session public hearing on behalf of the School Board, encouraging the Delegates and Senators assembled to reject the Governor’s recently proposed budget, which would cost Fairfax County Public Schools millions of dollars in critical funding.
Full text of Chair Frisch’s prepared remarks:
On behalf of the Fairfax County School Board, thank you for the opportunity to address you in preparation for this upcoming General Assembly session.
As I begin my remarks, I want to be clear — it appears the Governor is perfectly content allowing Kentucky and West Virginia to continue outpacing Virginia when it comes to K-12 public education funding. His budget has no proposals whatsoever, to address the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission’s (JLARC) recommendations for public education funding.
JLARC was unequivocal in describing how broken Virginia’s funding formulas are and how severely underfunded public education is in the Commonwealth relative to our neighbors, to national averages, and to best practice benchmarks.
JLARC also provided clear and actionable near and long-term recommendations for addressing these shortfalls, from eliminating Great Recession-era funding formula reductions, including the support position funding cap, to comprehensively addressing varying labor costs across Virginia.
Yet none of these are included among the Governor’s recommendations.
Please do not lose sight of JLARC’s near and long-term recommendations. Adoption of these items in this session would have an immediate positive benefit for school divisions while your longer-term funding discussions proceed.
Fairfax County Public Schools needs you to act.
In some ways, the Governor’s actual budget recommendations are more troubling than what he fails to request. His proposal actively moves in the opposite direction of JLARC’s funding and formula recommendations. It includes significant cuts in existing dedicated sources of funding for public education — cuts that would devastate our local schools.
The Governor proposes to eliminate hundreds of millions in K-12 funding that had been earmarked to replace sales tax revenue historically dedicated to public education but lost due to the 2022 grocery sales tax cut. The net loss to FCPS would be substantial and disproportionate. Protecting this dedicated K-12 revenue should be a top priority.
The Governor’s budget also singles out high Local Composite Index (LCI) jurisdictions like ours for cuts in early childhood education funding through the Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI).
These items reflect just a few of our concerns with the Governor’s budget proposal. We will send you a more detailed overview as we receive additional details from the state.
On the policy front, we urge you to continue addressing student academic success, including reforms to Virginia’s assessment system, such as the use of universal design and native language testing; student safety, security, and well-being, including dedicated funding for RAP back screening, funding to expand free meals availability, support for LGBTQ+ and other historically marginalized students, gun violence prevention, additional pedestrian safety measures; and continued support to address workforce shortages.
We look forward to partnering with you to improve education for all Fairfax County students. Best of luck during your upcoming session — our students and families are counting on you.