Preliminary estimates for the Fairfax County Public Schools fiscal 2015 budget show a potential deficit in excess of $140 million.
This budget scenario does not include employee pay increases or any new programs, according to Chief Financial Officer Susan Quinn. A planned 2 percent increase in county funding would cut the shortfall to about $103 million, she said.
The school system has been using one-term revenue sources to balance its books in recent years, which has led to a structural deficit in the budget that needs to be addressed in the long term, Quinn said. In short, the school system is spending more than it is bringing in through reliable revenue streams like state and local funding.
“Our reliance on one-time funding is starting to catch up with us,” Quinn said.
State and federal funding is expected to decline slightly next year due to federal budget cutting and the state recalculating the Local Composite Index, the formula used to divvy up state education dollars.
In this preliminary projection, Quinn is estimating that revenues will be down by about $49 million, although that could be offset if the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is able to go ahead with its planned budget increase.
In addition, enrollment is expected to continue to grow, the school system has to continue funding the pay increase it provided to employees this year and health insurance costs are expected to go up, all combining to increase expenses by more than $89 million.
That figure also includes some investment in bus replacement and maintenance needs.
“We deferred a lot of our capital needs during the recession years as well,” Quinn said. “Those are some of the things that we are going to have to keep on our radar screen.”
The School Board is working on setting its budget priorities for the next fiscal year. Superintendent Karen Garza will present her proposed budget in January, and the final schools budget is generally approved in May, after the Board of Supervisors completes its budget process and determines the level of schools funding it will be providing.