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February 11, 2020

School superintendent seeks 5.1% budget increase

File Photo/Lawrence Emerson
Superintendent David Jeck’s proposal calls for an increase of $5.3 million to raise pay for 13 categories of employees.
It’s always good to remember that almost 90 percent of our budget goes to people.
— Superintendent David Jeck
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Superintendent David Jeck proposes a $155.8-million operating budget for Fauquier pubic schools — up 5.1 percent for fiscal 2021, which begins July 1.

The school board Monday night received Dr. Jeck’s plan, which calls for an increase of $3.8 million in county funding.

The local share of education funding would rise 4.1 percent to $96.9 million.

State funding would rise 8.2 percent to $52.2 million.

> Documents at bottom of story

“We’re in a better place than I expected” on state funding, Dr. Jeck told the board.

The state’s formula for determining local school funding has improved for Fauquier, resulting in a projected increase of 8.2 percent. But, the superintendent cautioned that local officials won’t know the precise amount of state funding until the governor and General Assembly complete Virginia’s two-year budget next month.

The governor’s proposed budget includes no funding for teacher raises in its first year, Dr. Jeck added.

Projected federal funding of $4 million accounts for just 3 percent of the total proposed budget.

The total operating budget would increase $7.5 million from this year’s $148.2 million.

The 20-school system has 11,267 students and 1,883 employees, including 923 teachers.

“It’s always good to remember that almost 90 percent of our budget goes to people” in benefits and salaries, Dr. Jeck noted.

Teachers would get 3-percent raises, accounting for $1.4 million of the budget increase Dr. Jeck proposes.

Another $976,000 would fund “step” increases on the salary scale for teachers, librarians and counselors.

Thirteen categories of employees would get raises as part of the school system’s goal of reaching 91 to 99 percent of the “market” averages.

Across the system, raises would cost almost $5.3 million.

Presenting his seventh proposed Fauquier school budget, Dr. Jeck also recommends a $10.50 minimum hourly wage for employees. Part-time cafeteria and playground monitors start at $9.55.

“We feel like nobody should come to work for us and make less than $10.50,” the superintendent said.

The budget also would cut costs for employees with family members on the county/schools health insurance program. For example, the $504 monthly premium for a family on the “Keycare 15” plan would drop to $216.

Benefits — including pensions and health and life insurance — would account for $1.9 million in new spending.

The budget would add 10 teaching, counseling and related positions, along with one in the budget office.

The school system also would lease eight new buses at a cost of $140,000 next year.

Dr. Jeck’s total proposed school budget — including grant-funded programs, food service, textbooks and debt service — would total $169.2 million, up 5.4 percent.

The school board will conduct a Feb. 24 public hearing on the proposed budget. After a work session, which could produce changes, the school board will send its proposed budget to the board of supervisors, which controls local spending.

The supervisors also will conduct a public hearing on the total county budget and proposed taxes rates before adopting a plan in late March.

Contact Editor “Lou” Emerson at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 540-270-1845.

FY 2021 Proposed Budget Sum... by Fauquier Now on Scribd

FY 2021 Supts Proposed Budget by Fauquier Now on Scribd

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EducationNow · February 13, 2020 at 9:06 am
Here are the facts. The equity program is not being implemented by choice. When a district is reporting such poor numbers for it's black and brown students and students with disibilities, this is a State mandate to take action or they will. The nw minimun wage must be met for staff. It is not a choice. If you do not believe a teacher in this county deserves a fair living salary but those in surrounding counties do? Well explain why the administrative salaries are at the same level as those in Fairfax and Loudoun. The same old excuses are not going to fly any longer. Where is the money going? Another park no one uses? Another refusal to bring in jobs and business. Yet a new Popeyes is all the rage. The BOS pandering to the wealthy land owners who live almost tax free, do not want to deal with our public school disaster and hire undocumented workers at lower wages...Welcome to Fauquier County. oh but you can wave your confederate flag and play with your assault type rifle...

Jerome Fields · February 12, 2020 at 7:31 pm
I'm with Sonny Day. We had a neighbor with 160 acres say to us that she pays less taxes then we do on our 1.5 acres because her land is in conservation easement status.

Now, we appreciate that we won't have developers building behind us on her land when she passes, but it is getting harder and harder every year to pay our taxes while our land and house get older and older. If we don't keep up our house it won't be worth as much as the country assesses it, and the day is coming when general maintenance will not be affordable.

No longer have children in the school system, so have no idea what "Equity in the 21st Century" is about.
CountryGal · February 12, 2020 at 11:23 am
I'm curious if Dr. Jeck views County taxpayers as an unlimited money pit...sadly, it appears that way. I would love for every child in our school system to have a highly qualified, dedicated and well compensated teacher, cafeteria worker, janitor, etc. However, we can't expect to pay Fauquier teachers what they get paid in Fairfax, Loudoun or Prince William. It isn't that our teachers and support staff aren't deserving, it's simple economics. We don't have the same population or residential and business tax base to do so. For example, first-year teachers in Prince William make an additional $4,696 than Fauquier teachers, however, Prince William has 468,011 residents (2018 estimate) compared to Fauquier's 70,675. In my opinion, that's comparing apples to oranges.

The long and short of it is this: it is a PERSONAL CHOICE to work for their local municipality. You choose what is best for you, your family and/or your career aspirations. A decision has to be made of what is more important: annual salary or time not spent on I-66? For some, it's the salary, for others it's being close to home, not spending hours on the road, and/or feeling like you are making a difference in your community. Whatever the reason, it is a CHOICE.
Sonny Day · February 12, 2020 at 10:44 am
I wonder if I can get the little lot my house sits on, into a conservation easement like all the rich people in Northern Fauquier are doing to avoid tax increases. All the development results in the need for more services, but we all should have to pay, not just the hard working middle classers living in Southern Fauquier.
J Obrokta · February 12, 2020 at 7:12 am
J. Whitehead,

Thank you for starting this year's budget conversation among members of our community so thoughtfully. I am completely serious in saying that. In most years we start with members of our community saying crazy things like “schools should be paid for entirely by the parents of the students” or other statements that show a misunderstanding of the positive impact of good schools on everyone in our community.

You are right to say that we should look at every line of the budget and make sure that our money is being spent well. That piece on equity training that you mention comes out to 0.2 percent of the total proposed budget. As one of the teachers being trained in that program I would argue that it is a good use of our money. That training is designed to help ensure that we have those “common sense caring teachers” that you say are always needed.

Ideas that you support like smaller class sizes and increased access to after school support programs sound great. Thank you for those recommendations. I hope that you will speak sometime at a budget hearing, or at least send a note to our school board members letting them know that you support those important changes.

I’m not sure if school uniforms would be a good use of taxpayer money, though perhaps you meant to say that students would be required to pay for those.

Thank you again for adding thoughtfully to our community’s discussion about our schools, our budgets, and the best use for our tax money.

Best regards,
Jim OBrokta
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brandonj · February 11, 2020 at 9:22 pm
J Whitehead can you elaborate on "Equity in the 21st Century"?
J. Whitehead · February 11, 2020 at 9:13 pm
The School Board and the Board of Supervisors should demand and remove the $335,000 earmark for Equity in the 21st Century. Zero funding of the school budget should be allocated until this waste of program is removed. This program is a slap across the face of every educator in Fauquier. Our educators have labored tirelessly for meager salaries and endlessly high expectations. It is unreasonable and inequitable to place the unrealistic burden of egalitarianism on the shoulders of educators. Equity in the 21st Century is "code speak" for division, distrust, and the creation of a false narrative. If FCPS is serious about improving disparity between subgroups the solution is straight forward and simple. Enforced rules, uniforms, reduced class sizes, mandatory after school help, and the good old fashioned common sense of a caring teacher. There is no such thing as the "taxpayers money". That budget for Equity in the 21st Century is our money. We the people earned it. We demand that it be spent wisely and efficiently. Wake up citizens of Fauquier, the battle is in our hands!
brandonj · February 11, 2020 at 9:00 pm
Last year you asked for 6% and this year it's 5%. Last year you said it was a crisis. I think the healthcare subsidy is a just cause, but that keycare15 plan looks quite good for a government employee (I had something similar at my last position, although honestly there should be a high-deductible plan).

My problem with this plan is that if we support it, you'll just come back for more next year citing something new! Inflation was under 2% for last year. Homes (the budget cites property values to justify the increase) are not a store of wealth. They're a liability!
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