Fairfax Co. schools stand to lose millions in funding under Youngkin’s proposed budget amendments, school system says - WTOP News (2024)

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Fairfax County Public Schools would lose over $6 million in funding for English language learners in each of the next two years, as a result of Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s proposed changes to the state’s budget.

That is one of several findings in the school district’s analysis of the proposed changes, which was obtained by WTOP.

The proposed amendments to the state’s budget would also reduce overall funding for the state’s largest school district by $16.7 million in fiscal year 2025 and $24 million in fiscal 2026, the school division’s review found.

The findings come as state lawmakers are scheduled to reconvene Wednesday in Richmond to consider Youngkin’s budget amendments. Those are either approved or rejected, and then the package is sent back to the governor’s desk.

Virginia uses a two-year budget cycle, and the budget under consideration would go into effect July 1 and be in place until the middle of 2026.

Youngkin’s proposed amendments, according to Fairfax County schools, didn’t change funding for teacher salaries. The school division would also lose $5 million in revenue in fiscal 2025, and $12.4 million in fiscal 2026 as a result of eliminating the proposed expanded sales tax base.

The exact impact of changes in at-risk funding is unknown, the school district found.

Pointing to the findings of a Joint Legislative Audit & Review Commission report, Senate Majority Leader Scott Surovell said Virginia invests $7 billion less in education than it takes to get to the national average.

“We are never going to fill that $7 billion hole if we don’t start making progress right now,” Surovell said.

A Youngkin spokesman pointed to the governor’s recent remarks when asked for comment on the Fairfax County Public Schools estimates.

In a recent interview, Youngkin said he is committed to a $21.3 billion education budget, which he said is a $1.2 billion increase over the last two-year budget period. That includes 3% raises each year for teachers, he said, adding, “That’s on top of 12% raises the last two years combined.”

The state’s plans, Youngkin said, “included increased amounts for students at risk, for our English language learners,” and what he called a “substantial” investment in child care.”

The General Assembly, Youngkin said, is working on addressing its student funding formula.

Overall, the proposed budget amendments represent an additional $106 million of state funds over the previous enacted two-year budget for Fairfax County Public Schools, Youngkin’s office said.

But, “some of the cuts, we don’t even know the full consequences of yet,” Surovell said.

The English language learner funding, he said, is “money that would help pay for professionals to help our ESOL learners transition to English, which is absolutely critical if we’re going to have solid, well-performing schools in Fairfax County.”

Youngkin’s plans also removed a cap on the local composite index for Virginia Preschool Initiative funding, Surovell said. The state’s preschool initiative funds pre-K for students who can’t afford it.

“Studies have shown that the best investment you can make in a child’s education is by investing in preschool,” Surovell said. “It’s just mind-boggling to me the governor would want to cut these kinds of things.”

Surovell is expecting all of Youngkin’s amendments to be rejected.

“The budget will go back to him and it’ll be up to him as to whether he wants to be the first governor in the history of Virginia to veto a budget,” Surovell said. “But the governor just doesn’t seem to understand what his role in the process is. The governor is supposed to make minor amendments and technical fixes to bills. They’re not supposed to rewrite the entire thing.”

Some of Youngkin’s proposed changes, Surovell said, are “largely driven by the fact that he doesn’t want to adjust sales taxes so that businesses have to pay the same sales taxes that people do.”

Youngkin has called the package a “common ground budget.” It includes over 230 amendments.

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Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for WTOP. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.

sgelman@wtop.com

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Fairfax Co. schools stand to lose millions in funding under Youngkin’s proposed budget amendments, school system says - WTOP News (8)

Fairfax Co. schools stand to lose millions in funding under Youngkin’s proposed budget amendments, school system says - WTOP News (2024)

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