Arlington Public Schools has formally requested an extra half-cent of tax revenue from Arlington County, about $3 million in potential revenue, School Board Chairwoman Emma Violand-Sanchez said Thursday.
The school board is in the process of reviewing and refining a $520.4 million spending plan proposed by Superintendent Pat Murphy that consolidates several programs but maintains class sizes.
Murphy has proposed a series of cuts to address an anticipated budget gap of up to $25 million. And while the school system will add about 30 positions overall, about 62 would be eliminated — including teachers for gifted services at all three high schools and about 14 jobs in the teen parenting program.
"We are concerned about the extent the budget has to be cut to close the funding gap," Violand-Sanchez said Thursday before 30 people spoke at a public hearing.
Arlington Public Schools cannot levy its own taxes and therefore must rely on the county government for the lion's share of its financial support. Arlington County's proposed budget tops $1 billion and relies on a 3.2-cent tax increase, though elected officials have given themselves the authority to increase the tax rate by as much as 5 cents.
The county's proposed budget includes a $411 million transfer to the school system, a 2.7 percent increase over the current fiscal year. That amount includes an additional $7.1 million, or approximately 1.1 cents of the proposed tax increase, to help cover the cost of 973 new students expected to enter Arlington Public Schools next year.
An extra half-cent in tax revenue would raise the level of new ongoing funding by an additional $3 million and would help offset some of the challenges the schools face due to skyrocketing enrollment, Violand-Sanchez said.
Arlington resident Michael Beer told elected officials Thursday that the county's contribution to education has not kept up with the rate at which the schools have grown.
"I would like for the school board to speak up and push back and ask the county for more revenue," he said. "We need you to speak up for our kids."
Doing so puts more pressure on the county government, which has its own budget challenges — including affordable housing and compensation, not to mention the fallout from federal sequestration.
In other words, giving the schools an extra half-cent of tax revenue cuts into the potential pot of money the county could use solve other problems.
Arlington County will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Tuesday on its proposed budget and another hearing at 6 p.m. Thursday on the tax rate.
The school board will present its proposed 2014 budget on April 4 and hold a public hearing on that spending plan April 18.
More on the school budget:
More on the county budget: