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FCPS looks to fund security cameras, Woodson HS renaming in midyear budget review

Fairfax County Public Schools (file photo)

(Updated at 11:25 a.m.) The Fairfax County School Board will vote next week on $847,000 in funding for security cameras at nine elementary schools.

That project is among those that could be funded as part of Fairfax County Public Schools’ midyear budget review, which Chief Financial Officer Leigh Burden presented to the board on Monday (Dec. 4).

FCPS has also proposed allocating $100,000 to cover costs associated with renaming Woodson High School after Carter G. Woodson. The change from former FCPS superintendent W.T. Woodson was approved on Nov. 9 and will take effect with the 2024-2025 school year.

“Historically, renaming costs have typically been about $300,000, but many items at Woodson just say ‘Woodson,’ so those items will not have to be replaced,” Burden said.

The board-authorized funding for security cameras would supplement money the county has received from two Virginia Department of Education grants to fund security cameras at eight elementary schools.

“Prioritization is determined by the building age, the number of existing cameras, the number of incidents at a school location as well as access to uninterrupted power,” Burden said in her presentation.

The elementary schools slated to receive funding through the mid-year budget review are Deer Park, Coates, Springfield Estates, Bull Run, Terra Centre, Greenbriar East, Freedom Hill, Bush Hill and Graham Road.

Another eight schools — Pine Spring, Great Falls, Fort Hunt, Sunrise Valley, Newington Forest, Rose Hill, Forest Edge and Glen Forest — will get cameras through the VDOE grants, which had different criteria for each application, according to an FCPS spokesperson.

When selecting the schools, FCPS considered factors such as the number of students eligible for free and reduced meals, the number of incidents at a given school, when the school was built, the availability of uninterrupted power and how many other schools in each region already had security cameras, the spokesperson told FFXnow.

Superintendent Michelle Reid told the school board in May that about half of the elementary schools in FCPS had exterior video cameras, along with all high schools. Installations at all middle schools were expected to finish this year, and she hoped to expand the program to all elementary schools in the “near future.”

Overall, FCPS has just over $6.1 million in additional funding to allocate in its mid-year budget review, most of which comes from higher-than-anticipated sales tax revenue identified after the end of fiscal year 2023, according to Burden. About $1 million comes from federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act grants, which support the school operating fund, she said.

The mid-year budget review also includes $88,000 to support restorative justice interventions and $80,000 for improvements to power sources used for Advanced Placement digital testing at select high schools. About $3.1 million would be held for fiscal year 2025, which starts on July 1, 2024.

“We generally like to try to keep the beginning balance around the same level as it is in the previous year because otherwise, if it’s less than that, then that just increases the local request to the county,” Burden said.

Braddock District Representative Megan McLaughlin asked about funding for school maintenance and repairs. She suggested Reid confer with Janice Szymanski, chief of facilities services and capital programs, and her team about addressing some “backlog maintenance issues” ahead of the board’s vote on Dec. 14.

“We just keep telling our communities, in particular our athletic boosters that work hard, tirelessly, year after year to bring money to the table, and then to get told, ‘We’re sorry we promised you that repair project, but there’s no money dedicated to it,’” McLaughlin said. “​​I think we’re losing faith and support and confidence from our families when we make promises and then we don’t deliver.”

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