Some Fauquier teachers are taking a stand in the wake of a proposed budget for next school year that falls $1.4 million short of the local funding Superintendent David Jeck requested to operate the county’s 20 public schools.
Dressed in “Red4Ed” clothing, members of Fauquier Educators Association and “Advocating for Change,” an organization pressing for more money for teachers, stood in front of the Warren Green Building in downtown Warrenton Friday afternoon to film a video asking supporters to attend an upcoming public hearing to press the board of supervisors for more money for public education.
The public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 12 in the Fauquier High School auditorium.
“Come tell your story. What is great about teaching in Fauquier County? What is unbearable?” said Jen McIntyre, a third-grade teacher at C. Hunter Ritchie Elementary School.
“Come and support your educators, please,” said teacher Barbara Huss, a librarian at Mary Walter Elementary School in Bealeton.
“We’re making these videos to encourage supporters to come and make their opinions known. They’ll go up on our Facebook pages,” said Lauren Brill, president of the Fauquier Education Association and a kindergarten teacher at Margaret M. Pierce Elementary School in Remington.
The county government, also on Friday, March 1, released a revised calendar that moves two budget work sessions later in the afternoon so teachers can attend.
The supervisors' budget work sessions will be held at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 7 and Tuesday, March 12 at the Warren Green building, 10 Hotel St., Warrenton. The meetings were originally scheduled for 2 p.m.
Supervisors Chairman Chris Butler said board members “will be there to listen.”
Butler said, “obviously, a priority of mine is public safety.” The fire levy would increase under the proposed budget to fund additional fire and rescue staff plus a position in the sheriff’s office. Butler said he doesn’t support an increase in the real estate tax rate apart from that purpose.
$1.4 million short of schools’ request
The supervisors will discuss Fauquier County Administrator Paul McCulla’s $313.3 million budget for fiscal year 2020, which begins July 1.
The spending plan funds additional fire and rescue staff but comes about $1.4 million short of fully funding Jeck’s request for Fauquier County schools.
Jeck had asked the county for a total increase of about $4.5 million over the current year to help fund planned pay raises for county teachers and staff as well as other needs. The amount is about $2.36 million more than the extra $2.1 million the county had already pledged for the school division in 2020.
McCulla’s budget included an extra $1 million in excess of the expected $2.1 million boost for county schools, for a total increase of $3.1 million.
Under the proposed budget, the school division would receive 58.94 cents of every dollar of the county’s general fund revenue -- the largest share of any county entity. School division spending is followed by public safety, which would receive 19.25 cents of every tax dollar paid into the general revenue fund.
The county budget is far from finalized. The proposal released Wednesday, Feb. 27, is only the initial step in the process. The supervisors will now review the spending plan over the coming weeks before voting on a final version later this month.
Average tax bills to rise $45 a year
The proposed budget proposes a 1.2 cent increase in the overall real estate tax rate that would increase the average homeowner’s tax bill by $45 yearly.
The proposal funds an additional six full-time fire and rescue technicians and three full-time captains. That boost in staffing would expand coverage at fire stations to 12 hours daily and add a second command officer for major or multiple incidents.
The sheriff’s office would receive funds to hire an additional crime analyst.
The county would add an information security analyst to guard against “hacking” and a full-time adult family services worker.
A shift of $400,000 would fund 12 full-time school security officers employed by the school division.
County employees would see a 2-percent pay increase, which includes a .4 percent cost of living adjustment and a .6 percent merit increase.
The $313.3 million total budget includes $64.5 million in capital improvement funding for fiscal years 2020 through 2024 with an additional $195.6 million designated for future fiscal years.
Spending for capital projects over the next five years includes $12 million for broadband development; $40.8 million for school projects; and $200,000 for enhancements at the Warrenton-Fauquier Airport.
The proposed budget can be viewed in its entirety on the county government website, fauquiercounty.gov.
Reach James Ivancic at email@example.com.