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Fairfax Schools Superintendent To Lay Out Budget Plan

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By Jonathan Wilson

This evening in Virginia, the superintendent for Fairfax County Public Schools lays out his proposal for dealing with a projected $176 million budget shortfall, a deficit almost twice as large as what the district dealt with last year.

School board members, teachers, students and parents have been discussing the prospect of another year of painful cuts since last summer. Now the time for Superintendent Jack Dale to unveil his plan has come, and Dale is calling the situation demoralizing.

"An overriding theme from all of us, and many of us with 30-plus years experience, is: this is the worst situation we have ever been in," he says.

Many people are waiting to see whether Dale suggests scaling back the kindergarten day or eliminating foreign language programs in elementary schools. Increasing class sizes and cutting extracurriculars are also possibilities.

Chantilly High School track coach Matt Gilchrist says he's already been told indoor track teams across the county are likely to go, after being narrowly spared in last year's budget.

"You read between the lines, last year, gymnastics and indoor track were at the top of their list, and there's no reason to assume that would change," says Gilchrist.

Gilchrist says this year the board has done a better job of keeping the proposed cuts under wraps so opposition hasn't had as much time to gain steam, but he says he's prepared to mount another fight to save indoor track in Fairfax.

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