Fairfax County Public Schools Deceives Taxpayers

Legal Fees, Per-Pupil Costs Soar

Stephanie Lundquist-Arora | March 19, 2024

(Washington Examiner) — As Fairfax County Public Schools increases its budget to $3.8 billion, up 8.6% from fiscal 2024, taxpayers have been put on notice that they will be hit with more property tax increases. Fairfax County residents’ property tax bills are expected to increase again by an average of $524 per household in 2025.

Meanwhile, district administrators are gaslighting taxpayers about per-pupil spending. On March 6, they sent an email to parents complaining that Virginia’s public school districts receive less state funding than public schools in other states. That might be intended to distract us from the fact that per-pupil spending in Fairfax County is substantially higher than the national average. In the 2024 budget, the annual cost per K-12 public school pupil in Fairfax County was $19,795. The national per-pupil average the same year was $12,612.

While Fairfax County’s school board members and administrators would like to focus on why other states in the South Atlantic region allocate 4% more in funding for their public schools, the better and more pressing question is why our district’s per-pupil spending is so exorbitantly high. In fact, the per-pupil average cost is higher at Fairfax County’s public schools than the tuition at many of its higher-performing private schools. And the taxpayer’s return on investment is questionable at best.

Fairfax County used to be known for its reputable schools. But in a recent survey, the district didn’t even make the top 100 most desired schools in the nation. FCPS ranked No. 128, falling behind both Loudoun County Public Schools, No. 60, and Arlington Public Schools No. 93. Standardized testing also proves the increases in per-pupil spending are not yielding better academic proficiency.

But let’s take a look at the district’s legal costs over time. From fiscal 2021 to fiscal 2024, the district has spent about $26 million just in legal fees. In fiscal 2024, the adopted budget allocated $1.975 million for legal fees, but the revised spending ended up being $7.974 million. In the fiscal 2025 adopted budget, the district gaslights us with a repeated $1.975 million allocation for legal fees, but it likely will be much higher.