7 Comments

  1. The city and the school board need to come clean on:

    1. anticipated operating costs of the schools (planned and existing);

    2. provide realistic growth rate for the school operating budget.

    The ‘cost of the new gmhs/meh’ widely published does not include increased operating costs – which are signficant.

    1. It appears that the author requested that the city provide more data on operational costs and how to control it.

      Who wants to wager that they won’t provide the information to the public?

  2. Let me take a different tact. Why are we fixated on a $120 million price tag for the school? Do the math and see what your tax increases will be over the next 20 years. And that is for new debt service only. It does not factor in operating costs both on the school and city side, increased assessments, etc. We cannot afford such a large cost. I don’t care what the consultants said. Listen more to the interim school superintendent, who talked with more common sense (in just a short period of time) than any of these city officials who either don’t answer the tough questions or give vague answers. The interim school superintendent offered a price tag in the neighborhood of $75 to $80 million with additions way down the road. That would still be a stretch but maybe, just maybe, it would be doable. You know folks would like to have the newest and most expensive Mercedes on the lot, but when you can’t afford it you settle for less rather than put yourself in financial calamity. This city needs to do the same thing. And let’s get over this mentality that I see in some comments about how nice it would be for my young children to go to a new $120 million high school that you know when all is said and done with cost overruns will probably be closer to $140 million….. and where is that shortfall going to come from. So folks need to sober up. Enough said. I am droning on….smile.

  3. Sorry I a back with one other point. The spin you are going to hear as election season approaches, and I chuckled when I read this, from the our distinguished News Press and one council member who was quoted was that the new Target and Aldi were going to be a real boost in being able to afford a new $120 million high school. While adding those stores that is good news, it is no way makes much of a dent in the cost to taxpayers. The sad thing is the casual readers and those who don’t pay close attention are going to believe the spin.

    1. @Dale. Stay tuned – this forum will try to provide additional information on how to upgrade the school without putting the city at financial risk.

  4. My concerns specifically about operating expenses is based on many years of going to the school budget work sessions and observing:

    1) a lack of detail provided or discussed on program expenses or any questions about program expenses (IB, MYP, Special Education to name a few.) and connections to outcomes.
    2) seeing large expenditures with zero discussion at the board level about those expenditures (Vans, generators, apple products,)

    With regard to programs specifically for example, the MYP program, which I have been asking about for years now, has been rolled out with no complete cost information.

    For example as our system grows, a transportation cost savings could be to use the same busses to transport MEH students with a later run for Mason students to save buying another bus when these combined runs are at capacity.

    However, a non-negotiable requirement of the Middle Years Program, as I understand it from statements made by FCCPS Admins, is that the bell schedules of both schools must align. Therefore having different start times to perhaps save money on transportation by being able to use the same buses full of middle school students and then a later run full of HS students does not appear to be an option. That would be what I call a program cost — just one of many associated with this program not even discussed at the board level when this program was under consideration.

    I believe we need more of these kinds of questions at the board level, one of the reasons I am running for school board.

    And finally I do really wonder about our ability to think we can hold growth to 4%.

    Consider the chart I am looking at provided by FCCPS during one of the past budget work sessions and it shows FCCPS School Operating Budget Historic Spending By Category which is totaled at the bottom to say:
    FY13 %10.3% increase,
    FY14 4.4%, increase
    FY15 12.9%, increase
    FY 16 5.1% increase in spending.

    (I will attempt to post a picture of it on my public FB page. )

  5. Kristina et. al, thank you for once again bringing attention to these issues. Apparently no amount of scrutiny brings lasting change to city officials’ habits of intransparency. There are actually people in this town who have no kids. Real people, who have every right to be here. Yet parents prevail in every argument in favor of any project that feeds insatiable school “needs”.

    Running a private school on our public money is almost as dispicable as the institutional class/economics differences that are brushed over with untennable budgets privilegedging rich parents over the rest of us. it is institutional, white as snow politics that were in their original incorporation all about exclusion. We are stuck in that past legacy, and it splits us apart just as its premises always have. Developers and politicians have long colluded in the game, and I for one am sick from swallowing the institutionalized lies our officials and privileged parents keep spewing. The brilliant work by all FACTS authors in pointing out fallacies fall on deaf ears. I personally have given up on Falls Church City politicians. Liars liars pants on fires. If only our ire could lead to firing these entrenched fools.

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