Fairfax County’s public schools are one of our most valuable assets. We have a long tradition of excellent schools and talented teachers. In fact, many families move to Mount Vernon because of our quality schools. Mount Vernon's property values are significantly stabilized by having some of the best schools in the County. However, our schools are stressed by the recession’s impact on government.
High Quality & Accessible Preschool
In 1948, my grandparents helped create one of Fairfax County's oldest operating preschools – the Tauxemont Preschool on Fort Hunt Road. Three generations of my family have thrived at this community institution.
Science tells us that 90 percent of a child’s brain development occurs before age five. We must expand voluntary pre-kindergarten programs for more four-year-olds. Children who get a strong start in life are more likely to have a productive, responsible life. All of Virginia’s children deserve the same opportunities that I was able to enjoy.
Better Teacher Salaries & Less Trailers
Fairfax County’s teachers are currently experiencing a pay freeze and a hiring freeze. Capital construction is limited with the state providing virtually zero financial assistance. Many – too many -- Mount Vernon children attend school in trailers, including my own children starting next year.
Funding for Secondary Education has been on the chopping block every budget cycle since I was elected. Fair teacher salaries and quality facilities begins with better state funding.
Fair State Funding
State school funding formulas favor rural localities whose elected officials currently control the House of Delegates. The existing formulas give too much weight to income and property values and do not adequately take into consideration the increased cost of running schools in Northern Virginia or our rich mix of students and the diversity of educational needs.The state’s education funding is highly skewed against our best interests.
Fairfax County’s taxpayers through their local government fund 74% of our school budget, while the state and federal government pays the balance. Prince William County’s taxpayers only pay 52%. In some rural jurisdictions, the state pays for nearly 70% of school budgets. This is not fair and puts massive pressure on Fairfax County's local government to collect real estate taxes.
Plus, Governors have attempted to make large specific cuts to Northern Virginia to take away gains made over the last two decades. I have won awards fighting against these cuts and been public against anyone who cuts funding to Northern Virginia's public schools regardless of partisan affiliation.
Better Leveraging Federal Grants
Finally, federal grants frequently fund early childhood education and school lunch programs in other states. The Commonwealth of Virginia ranks 50th of all 50 states in per capita federal grants received. Given that 5 of the 10 elementary schools in the 44th District have at least a majority of children receiving subsidized meals and have significant numbers of children in need of pre-kindergarten education, that is completely unacceptable. We cannot continue to leave federal money on the table.
I will work for --
- More state and federal funds to provide opportunities for every child to reach his or her full potential.
- Expand access to early childhood education - preschool and high quality childcare
- Funds to reduce class sizes; meet Virginia’s Standards of Learning.
- Help special needs, non-English-speaking and gifted students.
- Fairly replacing local funds lost from tax-exempt federal properties.
- Investigate the feasibility of obtaining more federal grants to help fund school lunch and early childhood education programs.
- Keeping administrative expenses reasonable.