11 Comments

  1. Falls Church City pays about $18,000 per child so we are not getting a good value. What has to change in order to get better outcomes? I would like to hear from our Superintendent and School Board also.

    We are undertaking massive debt for a new school and I think our money would be better spent on education.

    1. Analysis performed a few years back showed FCCPS to be the worst education value (impact vs. $$$$) within greater metro DC. Our district’s response was to invest heavily in communications —infrastructure, mechanisms, methods and personnel. That strategy proved to be very effective for administrators (but not so good for students or taxpayers.)

      I’ll post the study if I can find it.

      1. Please let the administrator know if you have a copy of the study so it can be posted for others to see. Maybe we can get answers from the superintendent.

  2. How about cutting back in some areas given we are about to spend $120 million plus in capital expenditures on a new school. Stop spending on nice to haves. Folks need to sober up and realize that if you insist on a $120 million on a new school that there needs to be offsets in overhead and nice to haves in school operations… or else you will not have a single digit increase in the tax rate, which is guaranteed to happen and bad enough, but instead a double digit increase in the tax rate come budget season.

    1. Dale, the school is starting their budget talks soon and it will be interesting to see if they can keep their promise of being “lean.” Several SB members promised to keep the budget low so let’s see if they hold true to their promises.

      Superintendent Noonan has already published that the historical need is 4% increase so no one should be surprised when they ask for a 4% increase in addition to the money needed for the bond. The only way to get those large increases is to increase the residential tax rate. I’m sorry, but City Council says we are getting all this income from mixed use and that’s just not happening. Assessments and the tax rate went up for home owners.

  3. Just to continue – – we know Dr. Jones was a spend and tax superintendent who operated with little oversight from the school board or city council. I am not sure we know what Dr. Noonan is quite yet on the fiscal front. Maybe others know and maybe taxpayers will be pleasantly surprised. What Dr. Noonan should be doing now rather than later is to look at everything Dr. Jones put in place in terms of unneeded positions and and unnecessary overhead in the superintendent’s office, and IT thing like laptops and either freeze spending or better yet reduce it eliminate positions or things, combine positions, redirect spending to essential areas if necessary, etc. We don’t want Dr. Noonan to continue merrily along and operate like Dr. Jones, etc., etc. It all starts with the city council and school board applying a lot of financial discipline with the budget. The vote is in on a $120 million expenditure and related debt service. That’s fine. The voters have spoken. But there is going to be need for some lean years ahead on operational costs and nice to haves to keep the city affordable for many. You can’t borrow $120 million, with uncertain economic development, and keep spending at the same rate. This is why I personally felt that less than $120 million should be spent on a new school to create more flexibility and room on spending for essential operating costs.

  4. One of the issues discussed a lot in the school board race two years ago was requesting that the board look more at education outcome data with regard to the money that is spent. Candidate Becky Smerdon talked about that, as did I. I think the board needs to discuss what they believe a public education should provide and then assess if they are doing that for all students at a minimum. The point is that, I believe, the school board needs to focus on choosing efforts that move the needle the most for the most students and certainly for the students who need the most help. There is a lot of spending on efforts for which there is zero data to support that it even matters (changes outcomes.) That would be fine if money grew on trees but it does not. So while teachers buy their own classroom supplies and we have a part time special education director, we have resources to run a special accelerated class for less than 8 students for students who will undoubted do very well with or without this offering. It’s a choice that the school board continues to make every year. I don’t know exactly what the restructuring of resource allocation would look like but I believe the board should at least be wiling to talk about it. I will be listening. I have offered concrete suggestions such as teaming up with an area high school to expand IB offerings, (it is an international curriculum after all). You are right Lyn, we spend a lot of money on a demographic of students for whom the spending should not have to be that high. I think people need to be asking why. The upcoming budget meetings are a perfect time for those questions.

  5. Have we lost our way?

    As a community we are bound to pay for our public schools, but what exactly should we be paying for, what cost per student is reasonable today? what cost per student will be reasonable in the near future?

    Are we pushing students through the cattle shoots just to graduate? Are we pushing students to go on to 2 year and 4 year degrees at any cost and in any field so that “our numbers” look good and not looking at what will give them the tools to thrive after high-school when they are 18, adults in the eyes of the law?

    Are we teaching for the marketable and financial success of our students? What is the “success” rate of a Falls Church city student 5 years after graduation? 6 years, 7, 8, 9 years after graduation? What should we expect of our students for providing this opportunity, this gift of education?

    A student’s success is defined as the alum being financially independent and a viable member of society!

    Seems to me the best plan for a student puts both the student, parent and counselor on notice with the city taxpayer being able to see “their” progress or lack thereof.

    Shouldn’t the guidance counselor be held to some level of accountability for the students success, the students ability to become a productive member of out society? After all the parents are trusting the counselor to be a mentor and look at what is in best interest of the student and the students future, correct? If they, the counselors, are not doing this then what is their role? The parents are typically the ones footing the bill for post high school graduation educational cost based on the student desire and counselors recommendation, correct?

    What part of the student population should receive the greatest attention? why should this population receive the greatest attention?

    So who, what and what metric is reasonable for determining how beneficial our educational tax dollar are at aiding the future?:
    • IB programs?
    • Struggling student academic programs?
    • Struggling student academic program for college bound students?
    • Student vocational/trade programs or non-academic programs
    • Life and survivability programs?

    1. Great reply, David R.I. Schwind. I concur with your analysis and comments. It would be nice if FCCPS or the School Board could answer your valid questions.

    2. David these are great questions and this is information the school board should be asking for and analyzing each year. In the past we have had a school board focused on ratings and external markers. I hope this new board will ask these questions and more. It astounds me that we spend $18,000 per child on a demographic of students destined to soar. I hope the board really looks at resource allocation. Paying someone $175K to run a pre-school seems out of whack to me but that is just one of the many questions I hope will be reviewed during the budget discussions.

      1. For me it is these are the common sense metric parameters. There is no flash in a pan, this is where we, as the elders of the city should aid the young folks moving in so that they know what they are buying into and what they are getting. The “advertisements” in various rags are all eye candy based on generic metrics. How do FC kids do in life? Where are they now? What did they have to do to get there? Where does our “school system” see the need will be in 5 years, 10 years…. project and validate

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