Why didn't schools hire 5000 new teachers?
Arthur G. Purves, president of the Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance (FCTA), questioned the budget cuts that county chairman Kate Hanley said were necessary to reduce the real estate tax rate to 76 cents. The 76-cent rate would have reduced residential real estate taxes to their FY2000 level and offset the four-year 60-percent increase in residential assessments. By setting the rate at $1.16 instead of 76 cents, the supervisors increased residential real estate taxes by $1300 in just four years, giving the county an extra $500 million.
Based on Chairman Hanley's figures, which are posted at www.fcta.org, the Fairfax County Council of PTAs and the Fairfax Education Association (FEA) emailed their membership and stated that the 76-cent rate would cut 5000 teachers and double class size. The emails were soliciting attendance at the pro-tax rally held a week ago Saturday.
However, a comparison of the FY2000 and FY2004 county budgets shows that with the extra $500M, the school system hired 1200 teachers. "If a half-billion-dollar tax hike is enough to hire 5000 new teachers and the schools hired only 1200 new teachers, where did the rest of the money go?" Mr. Purves asked. Even with the tax hike, schools still increased class size. Of the 21,000 full-time school system employees, only 12,000 are full-time teachers.
Similarly, the emails claimed that the 76-cent rate would cut 348 policemen, 470 firemen, 575 sheriff positions, and close ten libraries and seven firehouses. However, with the half-billion tax hike, the county hired 208 policemen, 64 firemen, and 39 sheriff positions and opened only two libraries and one firehouse.
"Obviously Chairman Hanley did not tell the whole story about the
half-billion-dollar tax hike," Purves said. "Kate Hanley, the FEA, and the
PTA are simply using scare tactics to squelch honest debate."