Budget Victories!!

Both the Board of Supervisors and the School Board met last night regarding next year's budget.

First up, the County Administrator presented his proposed budget to the Board of Supervisors. He proposed setting an equalized tax rate of $1.155. In a big win for our schools, he also decided to advertise a tax rate of $1.215. That means that the Board of Supervisors could go as high as that in the normal budget process. Per Leesburg Today, that rate would provide approximately $949 million for the schools budget (that includes the expected state and federal money too).

This was a HUGE WIN for us, as the School Board also met tonight and it is asking for approximately $949 million!!

Which was another HUGE WIN.

A recap of the School Board meeting (if you follow SOS Loudoun on Twitter or Facebook, most of this is old news to you):

  • First up was Brenda Sheridan's (Sterling) proposed expansion of full-day kindergarten to 5 more Title I eligible schools: Middleburg, Forest Grove, Sterling, Meadowland, and Frederick Douglass. It passed unanimously.
  • Next was Eric Hornberger's (Ashburn) motion to reduce average class size in elementary schools from 24 to 23. It also passed unanimously. Kevin Kuesters (Broad Run) pointed out that Loudoun has the largest average class size for elementary schools in the DC metro area. 
  • Mr. Hornberger's moved to accept his revised salary schedule along with step increases. His revisions were intended to provide more rational increases along the steps that the staff proposed schedule. As a side effect, it also saves about $3 million. Jeff Morse (Dulles) proposed an amendment to cap salary increases at 5% on this schedule. Mr. Morse's plan, with the cap, does not correct the salary scale as intended by Mr. Hornberger's and the original staff salary schedule revisions. Mr. Morse's amendment failed 5-4 with Mr. Morse, Ms. Turgeon, Ms. Rose and Mr. Kuesters voting in favor of the amendment. Mr. Hornberger's original motion carried 8-0-1 with Mr. Morse abstaining. 
  • Next, the first cut -- to take out around 30 new positions where staff had requested multiple new positions. All positions were outside the classroom. This passed 7-2 with Tom Reed (At-Large) and Jennifer Bergel (Catoctin) opposed.
  • Bill Fox (Leesburg) then proposed another cut to reduce the Technology O&M budget by $2 million. The technology department is fine with this after looking over its computer refresh plan and seeing a welcome revision. They intend to refresh with laptops on carts instead of desktops, which would save the $2 million and may be a better plan going forward. This unanimously passed.
  • Ms. Sheridan went back to an increase and motioned to extend the current 1:1 initiative at Eagle Ridge MS and add it to Sterling MS as well. This is a successful pilot program so far that has teachers and students singing its praises. It passed 6-3.
  • Mr. Hornberger's motion to provide teachers with technology reimbursements of up to $500 also passed.
At the end of the night, the School Board unanimously passed their adopted budget. Next up, convincing the Board of Supervisors to fund it. Big victories under our belts and now we need to keep up the pressure. More on that soon!

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