Correction: April 22. We misstated the budget increase over last year. The correct amount is $21.64 million. We have made the change in the story.
The Arlington Public Schools Board supported a proposed budget of over $523 million last night, a budget similar to the one Superintendent Patrick Murphy proposed in February. Both budgets left a group of Tuckahoe Elementary School parents puzzled as to why foreign language is still not offered at the school.
Murphy's budget is largely unchanged, but the board restored funding to “some staffing for the Teen Parenting Program, elementary reading teachers, SOL core supplement teachers, high school gifted teachers, and funding for the school division’s minor construction/major maintenance fund. Some of the funds were restored using one-time funds and are subject to review in advance of the FY 2015 budget,” APS said in a press release.
“The changes accounted for additional funds provided by Arlington County based on its third quarter review of current fiscal-year expenditures and assume an additional $0.003 of tax revenue, which is in the County Board’s current draft budget to be adopted on Sat, Apr. 20,” the release said.
The Foreign Language in the Elementary Schools (FLES) program, which teaches students Spanish, is offered to neighboring elementary schools in the area like Glebe, Jamestown, and McKinley. Although the program is offered to 13 Arlington County elementary schools, it’s not offered to the other 9 elementary schools in the county.
Parents say they’ve been asking for the program to be offered at Tuckahoe elementary school since 2005, and were unhappy to discover it won’t be offered to students again this year.
“In the absence of limitless funds we find before us an imperfect budget,” Noah Simon, school board member and Tuckahoe elementary liaison, said after the board approved the budget.
Board members said they went into the budget with a $25 million shortfall, but the County Board provided them with additional funds when they realized their enrollment had grown. The budget increased by about $21.64 million since last year.
Some of the additional funds will be allocated to gifted program teachers, elementary reading teachers, and building maintenance.
“The fund is not being tapped into - they have the money,” said Kelly Alexis, one of the parents who wants the FLES program to be offered to her kids.
Parents of Tuckahoe elementary students say it’s not fair that kids at other schools get to participate in the program, while their children don’t.