For Fairfax, the impact will be worse than most other localities in the country primarily because of our proximity to the Federal Government. While the ultimate impact of the effects can only be surmised, the County (whose tax receipts fund 70 percent of the FCPS budget) is certainly going to be hit with an income loss as government workers lose jobs and face furloughs and their purchasing power decreases, the loss of federal funding will also directly impact local public education.
The sequester will result in a loss of about $6 million for Fairfax County Public Schools, most of which will come from the loss of funding for Title 1, Head Start, Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), English Language Acquisition, Perkins Career and Technical Education, and 21st Century Community Learning Centers. Even though federal funding only makes up 1.7 percent of the $2.4 billion school system budget, that funding affects our most needy students.
Students with disabilities and economically disadvantaged students will face the brunt of the cuts. Overall, Virginia will lose about $48 million in education grant funding, putting 190 K-12 teaching jobs at risk. The state will also lose $13.9 million to help children with disabilities, resulting in the elimination of 170 more positions. 7,000 Virginia students will lose access to Head Start slots.
The School Board has made early education a top priority, and some of us even joked that some Board members helped write President Obama’s recent State of the Union Address, which called for universal pre-Kindergarten. Unfortunately, the sequester will dig an even deeper Head Start waitlist (which currently numbers around 1000 students) from which we will have to recover.
Back in November, the School Board adopted a resolution—something it rarely does—calling on our federal representatives to do something about sequestration. In the intervening four months, they have failed to act, and Fairfax’s neediest students will be the ones who pay the price.