Virginia’s Fairfax County is home to one of the nation’s largest school districts and some 187,000 students. Like many other districts, however, it too is facing a financial crunch with a potentially maximum shortfall estimated to hit $80 million! That figure assumes that a salary increase for teachers is in the offing, together with a growth in enrollment and an almost $20 million decrease in state funding. Plus, there’s the $46 million the district must spend to cover teacher retirement and health benefits costs, so you see the problem.
The solution being bandied about: Cutting sports and such extracurricular activities as the music and drama programs, yearbook and school newspapers. Oh, yes, also on the table is increasing class size. Says Superintendent Karen Garza, “We’re going to have some very painful decisions to make because funding has not kept up with just the basic demands.”