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Budget Testimony by FCFT President Steve Greenburg: May 15, 2012

May 18, 2012 by Steve Greenburg

[The following testimony was delivered by FCFT President Steve Greenberg during the Public Hearing on the FCPS FY 2013 Advertised Budget on May 15, 2012. Greg Brandon, Web Editor]

Esteemed School Board Members,

Good evening. My name is Steve Greenburg. I represent the 4,000 members of the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers, as their president. I have come to speak with you this evening concerning the FCPS FY 2013 budget.

As I prepared for tonight, I kept thinking: ‘I only have three minutes, so what is the most important point I can make, or item I should advocate for? What will make the biggest difference in both the short and long term, not just for my members… but for the students and community?”

Recently, I had sent you a letter listing our compensation and other ‘Top Priorities’, so I know you are aware of what our positions and perspectives are.

Most important of all, to all???

This school board needs help; it needs support.

YOU EACH NEED A STAFF MEMBER OF YOUR OWN. ONE PERSON YOU HIRE AND DIRECT, WHO ANSWERS ONLY TO YOU.

YES! I could talk about leaving ERFC alone. A VRS phase in at 1% next year, added to our employee contribution rate of 4% = 5% into retirement. That’s an ideal amount (ask the state).

  • But… You need staff of your own to better respond to your constituencies; recent FCPS surveys reflect an inability for FCPS to effectively inform non-parent members on issues relating to student achievement and budget.

YES! I could speak to a reasonable COLA for all FCPS employees, so they can pay their bills and feed their families. But… You need staff of your own. The School Board is responsible for over half of the county’s budget, and the taxpayers deserve to have the proper attention given (by each member) to their investment. The FCPS budget is over $2 billion a year. I know of no other board that is responsible for that much money… with no assistance for daily operations, communications or researching. You need to properly focus on your operational expectations, programs, and audits (program and financial), so we can cut the waste and get the money to the classroom for kids and teachers.

YES! I could speak to not lowering the salary scale, as it harms the teachers who are the poorest and need the most support.  But… You need staff of your own. A School Board member’s job is actually full-time. Although members are considered part-time, demands on members (meetings, conferences, emails, phone calls, researching of items, producing literature or communications, etc.) requires daily attention.

YES! I could speak to funding for our parent liaisons and custodians, who work so hard and deserve the same support as other employees.

  • But… You need staff of your own. Issues of transparency and responsiveness can only be addressed if each school board member has the time to focus in detail on these. We need some checks and balances with administration. Says me. You’re bringing in a new superintendent soon… talk about timely.

YES! I could speak to funding extended learning opportunities for our students, especially those ‘at risk’. We’d rather have teachers working with students over the summer than writing curriculum projects that translate into workload in the fall and consulting gigs for upper level administrators. A parent handbook would be useful. A workgroup on early childhood is needed. Tuition reimbursement would be great. Helping with athletic fees and recording work sessions are also important.

  • But… You need staff of your own. This recently elected school board has six new members and an overwhelming agenda. Don’t be selfish by trying to lift the load by yourself. You are going to burn out, harming yourselves, and will drop the expensive load along the way. If you’re really unlucky, the load could land on some kids. That would be a tragedy.

I said it the first time I stood here and will again: You will be the greatest FCPS School Board ever, but you will need some help.

If someone else does not want you to be properly supported, then I suggest you question their motives. That doesn’t sound like a very responsible or sensitive position.

You need staff of your own.

We demand that you succeed.

Both I and my members care that much.

We understand what it means to be overworked.

Enough is enough. Please do this for all of us.

Thank you for your time this evening.

Steven L. Greenburg

President, Fairfax County Federation of Teachers

AFT / AFL-CIO #2401

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