Correction March 22 (1:47 p.m.): Our math was wrong in the story. The additional money would be 1.7 cents total to the school. The figure is corrected below. --Editor
Arlington Public Schools Board Chair Emma Violand-Sanchez began the school board meeting last night with the announcement that the schools have sent a letter to the county asking for an additional one-half of one cent increase in the tax rate--about $3 million--to cover shortfalls in the proposed fiscal year 2014 school budget of $520 million.
The spring 2013 enrollment figures were higher than expected which raises expectations for next year and drove the need for more money from the county, Violand-Sanchez said. The school system gets about $413 million of its budget from county taxes.
The county manager’s proposed budget includes an increase of 3.2 cents on the tax rate overall. The manager's budget included an additional 1.2 cents for the schools. The extra half cent would bring the increase to 1.7 cents. The overall tax rate as proposed by the county manager is $1.003 per $100 of assessed value on real estate. The county board advertised a rate of $1.021. The current rate is $0.97.
The advertised rate is, by law, the highest tax rate that the county board could approve when it finalizes the budget in April.
Also last night, high school students and their parents told school board members not to cut the gifted and talented teachers from the high schools, to install the foreign languages in all the elementary schools and to make sure pregnant teens and teen mothers have the chance to thrive.
Math faculty from Wakefield High School asked that money be kept for a tutoring lab that the faculty said gives students without resources a better chance at upper-math success.
Of the 30 speakers, the majority asked the board not to cut the gifted and talented teachers from the schools. The cuts are part of Superintendent Patrick Murphy’s plan to cut about 61 positions (full- and part-time) from the school budget. The faculty reduction accounts for about $7.75 million in savings.
“The gifted program and the gifted teachers play a crucial role in students’ lives,” said Washington-Lee junior Samuel Douthit. He was echoed by others in his family and in the crowd that the teachers themselves are the most important resource for gifted students.
In the superintendent’s proposed budget, the Teen Parenting and Outreach for Parenting Teens programs will move from the Family Education Center in the Reed-Westover Building to the Career Center on S. Walter Reed Drive.