County Superintendant Voices Frustration
Why are so many Fairfax County public school parents checking out private school options? Perhaps it is because private schools have more direct control over critical issues such as teacher salaries, electives, field trips, funds for physical education and arts classes, as well as keeping class sizes under control. The latest news from Fairfax County Public Schools is disheartening to parents, students, and now even the Superintendent Karen K. Garza.
“We have grave concerns as to what will happen in the 2016-2017 (FY 2017) school year when we face a devastating shortfall of more than $100 million,” said Garza in a letter dated April 28, 2015 that was addressed to Fairfax County Public School parents and community members.
“Due to years of chronic underfunding coupled with a decade of significant enrollment growth and increasing student needs, we will not be able to sustain the current quality nor the full range of academic programming we currently offer to our students,” continued Garza. “These cuts will likely affect all current academic programming including limiting elective choices, reducing career and technical programs, impacting advanced offerings, and again raising class sizes at all levels.”
Recent articles have cited Fairfax County teacher salaries as falling behind that of neighboring districts. This is hurting the reputation of the school district as it has the reputation of being one of the best school systems in the country. Garza agrees with this and comments, “We have fallen so far behind in teacher salaries that we are no longer competitive and are losing talented staff to neighboring school districts.”
With the continued budget cuts into the foreseeable future, many parents are now reconsidering private schools whereas they previously felt that public schools were meeting their children’s needs. With experts weighing in on the benefits of small class size, individual attention, and the importance of an expert teacher, many parents are considering their options.
“At Westminster School, my child has already benefitted from individual attention. With only 15 students in her class, her teachers realize when she needs help. Not only that, they have established a relationship with her that contributes to her overall confidence in her abilities. She loves coming to a school every day where P.E., art, music, theater, and recess are all valued aspects of her education,” says a current parent of a student in first grade.
This kind of testimony only reiterates some of the reasons why private school is a great choice for many. Top-notch teachers, small classes, and classes other than academics are a priority for schools such as Westminster School.
For more information regarding the Fairfax County Public Schools funding issues, visit http://www.fcps.edu/news/fy2016/faq.shtml.