Last night’s Board of Supervisors (BoS) work session on the LCPS budget, together with the visiting School Board (LCSB), lasted nearly four hours and was the most productive, honest, earnest, and impressive board meeting we recall seeing. The FY17 budget will not be a “cake walk”, and it remains CRUCIAL that everyone with a stake in the outcome makes their voices heard.  There were signs last night that your voices may receive the appropriate consideration and attention they deserve.

Chmn. Phyllis Randall did a superb job setting and maintaining a positive, productive tone and facilitating a depth of discussion appropriate to the subject. All of the LCSB members present and most of the BoS members demonstrated fervent intent to do the best job possible reconciling the responsibilities of their offices with an apparent goal of supporting public education in Loudoun County.
The BoS meeting packet (see BoardDocs to read it) contained a lengthy list of answers to questions the BoS had asked LCPS staff several weeks ago. The members explained they had received the packet just an hour before the meeting, but rather than placing them at a disadvantage, it encouraged a more open than confrontational dialog with the LCSB that may have provided insight into what each BoS member may consider their foremost priorities.

Some questions from the BoS sought answers while others seemed more like opportunities to express on the record some of the complexities with which LCPS contends. After the BoS asked the LCSB several times to express operating budget priorities similar to the written list of CIP projects they had submitted, Chmn. Eric Hornberger invited Superintendent Dr. Eric Williams to address areas LCPS might need to scrutinize further should the gap not fully close between budget and appropriation. Williams was extremely careful to qualify his remarks as illustrative of process rather than in any way indicative of specific items that might be cut.

Key at this point in the process is the property tax rate the BoS adopts which will determine how much can be appropriated to LCPS. The current rate is $1.135. $1.14 would be the “equalized” rate for homeowners, $1.15 is an option, and $1.17 is the “advertised” rate.

Regarding the property tax rate that will set the stage for LCPS budget reconciliation, Supervisor Ralph Buona (Ashburn) indicated it would be unlikely we would see adoption of the $1.17 rate that would fully fund the LCPS budget. Supervisor Buona and Supervisor Matt Letourneau (Dulles) stressed that unlike previous years, the “equalized” rate ($1.14) would not be the “start and end” of the conversation, and that they might be able to see their way to something in between.

This would still leave a funding gap that the LCSB reconciliation process would need to close, but it seems like a reasonable place to BEGIN the conversation. As you can see, there will be plenty more opportunities for these issues to be addressed in a marathon of work sessions (not all of which may concern the LCPS budget) until the BoS is scheduled to adopt the budget on Tuesday, April 5th.

Consider speaking at the public hearings, simply showing up to show solidarity, or contacting your BoS and LCSB representatives directly to make your voice heard. Many of those now in office seem receptive to such comments and have demonstrated willingness to act on them.

Here is a schedule of activities (obtained from several sources, hopefully correct and authoritative):

Wed March 2 at 6-10pm: BoS Budget Work Session (first, completed)]
Sat March 5 at 9am: CANCELED BoS Budget Work Session]
Mon March 7 at 6-10 pm: BoS Budget Work Session
Tue March 8 at 4 & 6:30 pm: 2nd Tuesday LCSB Meeting
Wed March 9 at 6 pm: BoS Public Hearing (general)
Thu March 10 at 6-10 pm: BoS Budget Work Session
Sat March 12 at 9am: BoS Budget Work Session
Mon March 14 6:30pm: BoS Public Hearing (Central Loudoun Elementary School Attendance Zones)
Tue March 15 at 6-10pm: BoS Budget Work Session
Sat March 19 at 9am: BoS Budget Work Session
Mon March 21 at 6-10pm: BoS Budget Work Session
Thu March 24 at 6-10pm: BoS Budget Work Session
Thu March 29 at 4 & 6:30 pm: 4th Tuesday LCSB meeting (rescheduled due to Spring Break)
Tue April 5 at 5-9pm: Adoption of the FY17 county (incl. LCPS) budget by the BoS

To view live-streamed or archived videos of BoS meetings, see: https://www.loudoun.gov/index.aspx?NID=389
For LCSB meetings, see: http://lcps.org/Page/140009

To contact the Board of Supervisors, visit this link for phone and email addresses:  https://www.loudoun.gov/index.aspx?nid=2178

To contact the School Board, visit this link for phone and email addresses:  http://www.lcps.org/Page/1629


Have You?

The elected School Board represents you.  Let them know how to do just that.  Tell the newly elected School Board that you want to continue to put kids first.  On Tuesday, February 2nd the School Board will adopt their FY17 operating budget.  Make sure they hear from you.

Contact your School Board member and at-large member.  Let them know the kind of school funding you support.  

The Superintendent proposed a $1B budget that: includes a $13,228 cost per pupil that is only 4.4% more than the cost per pupil in 2009, without accounting for inflation; restores past cuts by funding three additional Middle School Deans; provides compensation adjustments to attract and retain quality educators; expands kindergarten enrollment to 75% of all kindergarten students; provides additional staffing to close achievement gaps for minority students, English-language learners, and students with disabilities; launches a performing arts high school magnate; and begins the Academy of Engineering and Technology.  You can learn more by viewing the budget documents and reading the questions posed by School Board members and the answers provided by staff.  These are available at www.lcps.org under the LCPS Budget tab.

If this matters to you, please email your School Board member and at-large member before Tuesday, February 2nd.  Write a few sentences about how the proposed budget will impact your child’s education.  You can ask the School Board to continue the success of last year’s first fully funded budget in a decade and let them know that you support full funding for the 2016-17 Superintendent’s proposed budget.  You can include the parts of the proposed budget that you value .  

If this matters to you, take 2 minutes to email your School Board member at At-Large member.

Ashburn District
Sterling District
Algonkian District
At-Large also known as represents all of us
Blue Ridge District
Broad Run District
Catoctin District
Dulles District

Leesburg District


Just In Time For November 3rd - Candidates Who Place Public Education As A High Priority

The following SOS Loudoun endorsements of candidates have been determined based on the candidate participation in the LEAP Forum, the Loudoun County League of Women Voters Forums, and the survey responses to the Loudoun Times Mirror and the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce.  These candidates, in our opinion, place public education as a high priority and have the criteria needed to believe they will be successful.  Candidates with an * have also been endorsed by the Loudoun Education Association.


Algonkian - Ryan Myers

Ashburn - Eric Hornberger*

Blue Ridge - no recommendation

Broad Run - Joy Maloney*

Catoctin - Dusty Sparrow Reed*

Dulles - Kenya Savage

Leesburg - no recommendation

Sterling - Brenda Sheridan*

At-Large - Stephan Knobloch*


Algonkin - Andrew Resnick (D)*

Ashburn - Mike Turner (D)*

Blue Ridge - no recommendation

Broad Run - Al Nevarez (D)*

Catoctin - Craig Green (D)

Dulles - no recommendation

Leesburg - Kristen Umstattd (D)*

Sterling - Koran Saines (D)*


Phyllis Randall (D)*


Don’t Wait Until 2019 For A Fully Funded School Budget ---- Vote November 3rd

Four years is a long time to live with a decision.  If you already know which candidates you are voting for on November 3rd and you know that they support awesome public schools, then read no further.

Candidates respond to two surveys.  There are two resources that reveal exactly where candidates stand on the important issue of public education.  The Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce questionnaire ( here ) and the Loudoun Times Mirror questionnaire ( here ).  Candidates for both the Board of Supervisors and the School Board participated in these surveys.

Incumbents of the Board of Supervisors are eager to share that school funding has increased by as much as 29% since 2011, which is a view through a cracked door. Broad Run School Board Candidate Joy Maloney offers a wider view in the Mirror survey stating that, “Our current per pupil spending is the second lowest in Northern Virginia and lower than it was in 2009.”  The Washington Area Boards of Education (WABE) Guide (here) shows the comparisons of neighboring school districts and the LCPS website provides the past funding history and cost per pupil. 

Public education is not even on Suzanne Volpe’s (Algonkian District-R) radar.  When asked by the Chamber, “How do you propose to address the increasing funding requests by Loudoun County Public Schools to ensure our children receive a quality education?” she brings up toilet paper.  Yes.  TP.  Suzanne “Don’t Squeeze The Charmin” Volpe says, “As I explain to constituents all the time, the County buys toilet paper and the Schools buy toilet paper, why cannot we buy it together and save money?”  While her opponent, Andrew Resnick (D) responds, “The bottom line is we need leaders who understand the value of strong schools for our community.   … Investing in our schools is directly tied to helping keep property values high and tax rates low. This in turn helps attract businesses to the county and ensures Loudoun remains competitive.” 

Eugene Delgaudio (Sterling District-R) is focused on bricks and mortar capital improvements with no mention of what happens in the classroom.  In the questionnaires, Dulles District Incumbent Matt Letourneau (R) says that he supports public education.  Yet, as chair of the Board of Supervisors finance committee, Letourneau has already supported the committee’s 2017 fiscal guidance using two scenarios, an estimated real property equalized tax rate ($1.115) and the current real property tax rate ($1.135).  The Board of Supervisors adopted the fiscal guidance on September 18th.  County government staff has acknowledged that the equalized tax rate does not even cover the cost of core services for the approximate 11,000 anticipated new residents.  The 2017  budget climate includes an increased county population, an increased school enrollment, and a likelihood that the $10 million in surplus funds used last year to fund the schools will not be available again.  Will an equalized tax rate scenario or a current tax rate scenario provide core county services without reducing them?  Will these scenarios provide continued smaller class sizes, universal full day kindergarten, foreign language in elementary schools, increased STEM opportunities, programs in the arts and humanities, greater transition opportunities for students with disabilities, improvied teacher compensation incentives, or expanding technology initiatives?

There’s more to learn from these questionnaires.  Supervisor Suzanne Volpe (Algonkian District-R) and School Board member Debbie Rose (Algonkian District –R) did not participate in the Mirror’s survey.  Many candidates for the Board of Supervisors are critical of the dated county comprehensive plan that has not been revised since 2001.  Even the incumbents running for re election are critical that the comprehensive plan is 15 years old.  At least they acknowledge the importance of a current plan but it was not important enough to update it these past four years. 

Candidates supporting school funding.  You can find out how strong your Board of Supervisor candidate supports school funding by going directly to the question in the Loudoun Times Mirror survey that asks, “Do you favor possible increases in the county’s tax structure to finance the growing cost of education and building more schools?”  The Chamber’s questionnaire has a very similar question.  Take a look.

In elections, actions speak louder than words.   Let’s vote with our feet on Tuesday, November 3rd and put leaders on the Board of Supervisors who will put our children first. Let’s elect School Board members who will advocate to receive funding for the school budget. 

At Large School Board candidate Stephen Knobloch (D) gets to the point, “Over the past few years, the BOS began budget deliberations by drawing lines in the sand rather than listening to constituents, gathering information and identifying required services.  The two boards have dug a deep hole.    Let’s not wait until the next election year, 2019, before we have another fully-funded school budget.”

Get the word out to get the vote out. 

 - Lisa


Vote For Schools

Use your voice.  Vote November 3, 2015, for our schools.  Elect a Board of Supervisors and a School Board who will make public education priority #1.  In elections, actions speak louder than words.  Get out the vote.


Chair for the Board of Supervisors Forum. What Did They Say About Education?

The meet and greet for candidates seeking the office of Chair for the Board of Supervisors was held on October 6th at the NVCC Loudoun Campus.  Participating were Thomas E. Bellanca (I), Charlie L. King (R), Phyllis J. Randall (D), and Incumbent Scott K. York (I).  The event was hosted by the League of Women Voters of Loudoun County.

The candidates all mentioned education in their opening remarks. Afterwards, they were asked, “With the push for full day kindergarten and the opening of the academies how will you balance the school needs with the tax bills?  Do you see teacher raises, smaller class sizes, elementary school foreign language in the future?”

It was clear that both King (R) and Randall (D) will make full day kindergarten a top priority.  Bellanca (I) noted that the budget issue of $60 million was important, that it should be done right from the get go, and that it took Prince William County five years to implement full day kindergarten.  What he did not say was that full day kindergarten was a top priority.  York (I) stated his support for full day kindergarten but that it would not happen short term while we continue to build schools to keep up with growing enrollment.  York said that there is no room for full day kindergarten in the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP).  

To learn more about this forum, refer to the local media who covered the event, including The Washington Post, Leesburg Today, and the Loudoun Times Mirror.  

York (I) said in the opening remarks that, “Elections are very important.  There are consequences for who we vote for.”  The election is November 3rd.  You may file for an absentee ballot up to 5 pm the Tuesday before the election.  For information about voting, go to voter registration and elections.

Enclosed you will find a transcript of the candidate opening remarks references to education as well as the responses to the question concerning education.

Opening Remarks – Education References Only

Randall (D):

In this election, I’ve been endorsed by the Loudoun Education Association PAC. I’ve been endorsed by the Loudoun Police and, today, I found out I got the endorsement of the Loudoun Firefighters.  So the people that serve you, that serve your families, that serve children have asked me to serve as your chair. I am so honored by those endorsements.  I will be talking tonight about education, transportation, jobs and the economy, and transparency and ethics.

King (R):

I’m going to talk a lot about education and transportation, mental health, and ethics.

Bellanca (I):

I campaigned on better planning that creates funding for our schools, better economic development, funding a list of priority projects in the county for transportation.

I was also involved in getting the badly needed funds for building the high school and middle school in Dulles South, which was a crisis situation. 

I campaign for supporting our schools, to help improve our schools.

York (I):

In the last four years …  we have been able to increase the dollars to education by nearly 35% from where they were when we came in.  We have had three years where the funding per student has gone up out of those years and we were able to successfully this past budget session be able to fully fund the schools request.

Education Question -
With the push for full day kindergarten and the opening of the academies how will you balance the school needs with the tax bills?  Do you see teacher raises, smaller class sizes, elementary school foreign language in the future?

Phyllis Randall (D):

I’m so glad we started with this question because all four of us have talked about our support of FDK.  What you might not know, is that in the General Assembly this year, Chairman York went down to the General Assembly and lobbied against full day kindergarten.  It was House bill number 2302.  I actually have the date, the time, the bill, the committee, the patron, the co-patron … I have everything but the restaurant Mr. York took the lobbyists to when he lobbied against full day kindergarten for Loudoun County.   And I really would wonder if he spent taxpayer dollars doing that because if he did, I don’t call that actually effective use of taxpayer dollars. 

In addition, before anyone says that the School Board has not asked for full day kindergarten funds, in 2011 in an off year, off budget, the School Board actually asked to put aside $5 million dollars to start the study for full day kindergarten in the CIP.  But it was not done.  So, if you hear that the School Board did not ask for it, also, not an accurate statement.  You know every other county in the commonwealth has a plan for full day kindergarten.  So this is not rocket science. 

As chair, you lead.  How do you lead?  Well, one thing you do is go and talk to the other chairs, the superintendents of the schools and say, how did you do this?  How did you get full day kindergarten in your county?  And you figure that out.  Budgets of every time are always about priorities.  This Board prioritized a firing range for $20 million dollars when they could have spent $5 million less dollars.  They didn’t prioritize schools with full day kindergarten; they did not prioritize our students.  I will.

Charlie King (R):

I would say that education is Loudoun County’s top priority.  I can’t sit here tonight and tell you what specific budget item lines I’m going to support, not support in the future.  What I think has to happen and has not happened in the process is I think there has to be a much greater dialogue between the board, the staff and the school board long before the budget process goes.  And there has to be more flushing out of issues and more dealing with issues and better communication than there has been in the past. I think in these days, I agree with Ms. Randall, I think that full day kindergarten is a necessity.  It’s something I called for very early on. 

What concerns me is there is not even, at the moment, not even a plan to put kindergarten in place.  If I’m chairman, the first thing that I’m going to do, is I’m going to write a resolution that asks the School Board, because all day kindergarten is a program issue.  The Board can’t order the School Board to add kindergarten.  It can simply suggest that it do a plan and work with the Board to fund that plan.  That’s something that I see as a priority.  I think it’s a priority if we want to attract young families to Loudoun County. 

I think it’s a necessity; we are one of only three jurisdictions in the state that don’t have it.  The reason is that somebody built the schools to small. We don’t have the classrooms.  I think we have to do this now because I don’t think it’s going to get less expensive and I don’t think it’s going to get easier later. 

I’m not running because I want to put off the hard decisions.

Thomas Bellanca (I):

In December, one of the parents who runs the all day kindergarten program, the quest for all day kindergarten, which there’s numerous parents that are involved this process  ….  Held a conference with the new superintendent of the schools, which I attended.  And at that conference it came out that we were the last jurisdiction in the state besides Virginia Beach, which is a city, the last county in the state that doesn’t have all day kindergarten.  And I specifically asked the question, ‘Well how long will it take to get it?”  The example that was given was five years which is what Prince William County did.  It was one of their glowing achievements that they will always hold up that they made this happen. 

I think that the budget issue is an important one.  There is going to be some $60 million dollars that’s going to have to be spent on capital improvements.  I don’t agree with some of the comments that I’ve heard about putting trailers up to have it done the first year.  I think it makes more sense to do it right, build the classrooms the way we need them, and again this is a planning issue. 

There’s also going to be tremendous pressure in the next few years because of the population increase in the middle schools and high schools.  So, it’s also going to be a priority to make sure that we complete this new high school that’s going to compete with the Thomas Edison (Jefferson) school in Fairfax.  

Incumbent Scott York (I):

What Mrs. Randall did not tell you is what the testimony was when I was there.  The fact of the matter is that I did not speak against full day kindergarten.  What I spoke against was the unfunded mandate that was being requested by the very delegate she speaks of.  Not only did the Board of Supervisors vote opposing it, so did the School Board.  Why?  Because we knew at the time, from when Dr. Hatrick was in office, that it would cost us about $60 million dollars to implement. 

We are building school after school.  We are still growing by 2400 students a day (year).  Education is important, it is the priority.  69 cents of every dollar goes to our children.  And as soon as the School Board comes forward with a plan, and now we are looking at $100 million dollar bill to go 100% of all students in full day kindergarten. 

I support full day kindergarten, but I also support having a fiscally viable healthy county.  And you have to put it and implement it in a way that protects your county.  Right now there is no room in the CIP to create the room for an all day kindergarten because we are building school after school just to keep up with where we are at.  And ladies and gentleman, as soon as we are able it will happen.   But right now, because of growth, we are really kind of behind on the number of schools needed, barely keeping up.  The schools we build now are actually the largest schools in Northern Virginia for elementary schools.