Virginia’s largest school district faces budget shortfall, teacher raises at risk

Virginia’s largest school district is scrambling to find millions of dollars to close a shortfall in the upcoming school budget.

If they don’t, Fairfax County will slash teacher raises in half.

The Farifax County School Board has exactly a week to figure out how to close the $100 million gap in the budget.

Right now, the superintendent is looking to cut teachers' raises from 6 percent to 3 percent.

The School Board's Vice Chair Melanie Meren says the board has been working on the FY 2025 budget since last fall, but lawmakers in Richmond just voted on the state budget last week.

"This is what happens when the governor, for the third year in a row, does not present a budget on time," Meren said. "We are scrambling to figure this out."


Teachers expressed their frustration at a budget meeting early this week.

Cutting employee raises in half is something leaders don't want to do.

"I’m not happy about that, it’s the budget reality," Meren said. 

The proposed operating budget for 2025 is $3.8 billion. With a 102 million dollar shortfall.

Leaders say this is bigger than Fairfax County. Underfunding is a complicated state issue.


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Virginia is underfunding its schools, according to a new government watchdog report.

And a recent study directed by the General Assembly highlights inadequate public school funding in the Commonwealth.

"Virginia school divisions receive less K-12 funding per student than divisions in other states, and we receive less funding than the national and regional averages," Meren explained. 

The president of the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers David Walrod sent FOX 5 a statement saying the union is "displeased by the way the budget process unfolded." 

"Virginia state government and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors must do better to remain competitive and recruit and retain valuable FCPS staff," the statement reads. 

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"I don’t think there is a way to get teachers to 6 percent unless we want to really cut things that we’ve never considered cutting," Meren said. 

FOX 5 reached out to FCPS about superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid's proposal to slash raises.

A spokesperson said, "Had we received the transfer we had requested from the county, we would have been able to provide the 6% raise to our staff."

"Maybe, this is a wake-up call to our community that we have to support our teachers if we want our public schools to work," Meren said. 

She told FOX 5 the board is working hard to find additional dollars to try and get teachers a 4 percent raise – instead of 3.

They will take a look at the budget again during a work session on Tuesday, and on Thursday they must vote, and approve the budget that will go into effect on July 1.