The afternoon began with a statement sent out from Board of Supervisors chairman Scott York (at-large) on the School Board's work session from the previous night. York wrote:
"Based on the actions of the School Board last night, I felt compelled to send this email. I am weary and quite frankly disappointed in their manipulation of the public and the emotional blackmail."He then proceeded to once again explain how the School Board can do everything they want if they just followed the Board of Supervisors' suggestions.
Later that evening, dozens of people who support our schools came out to the Board of Supervisors meeting in Leesburg to watch them finalize the budget and ask one more time to give the schools more funding than the supervisors had proposed. The BoS remained unconvinced.
They voted 5-3-1 to reduce the schools budget by $38 million and reduce the tax rate by five cents to $1.155. At the lowered tax rate, the average homeowner will see no increase in their property taxes this year from last. Supervisors Eugene Delgaudio (Sterling) and Suzanne Volpe (Algonkian) voted against the budget because they wanted more cuts to the schools. Supervisor Ken Reid (Leesburg) voted against the budget because he wanted more funding for the schools. Be sure to thank Mr. Reid. Supervisor Janet Clarke (Blue Ridge) was absent from the meeting. In his comments prior to the vote, York made it clear what the people who asked him to support our schools should do next:
"If you don't like what the individual is doing, you come and vote."The Washington Post has an excellent recap of the meeting.
Thank you to everyone who has come out to speak at public hearings, spoken individually to your supervisors, called your supervisors, rallied your friends, sent emails, and more in support of our schools. The vote was not unexpected but it was disappointing to see the Board of Supervisors choose a manufactured crisis in funding over the public's desire to invest in our schools.
At the same time in Ashburn, the School Board held a work session continuing their discussion of how to reconcile the budget. The Board of Supervisors was just about to confirm the School Board would have to cut $38 million from their proposed budget.
But first, the School Board announced the hiring of a new superintendent, Dr. Eric Williams, as current superintendent Dr. Edgar Hatrick is retiring at the end of this school year. It appears Dr. Williams may be familiar with days like today, albeit on a much smaller scale.
The revised cut list from the work session follows. Changes made since the April 1 meeting are highlighted in yellow.
Total proposed cuts: $38,557,046
- Eliminate the 1:1 technology initiative expansion to Eagle Ridge and Sterling Middle Schools - $616,000
- Eliminate specialized Family Life Education teachers (instead FLE would be taught by regular PE teachers) - $1,417,400 (19 positions)
- Increase teaching load of HS department chairs by 1 class; still 1 less than other teachers - $840,000 (11.2 positions)
- Increase teaching load of MS SALTs (department chairs) - $900,000 (12 positions)
- Elimination of the new visitor management system for security - $400,000
- Eliminate new tech reimbursement plan for teachers - $1.5 million
- Eliminate Middle School dean positions and add 1 assistant principal to each MS - $2,130,942 million (31 positions)
- Eliminate the elementary school class size reduction the School Board added, but keep the LCPS proposed reduction - $2,064,000 (14 positions)
- Eliminate administrative interns - $1,119,000 (15 positions)
- Eliminate new elementary school language immersion program - $137,000 (3 positions)
- Reduce K-12 Insight budget (performs community surveys) - $100,000
- Close the remaining four small schools (Hillsboro, Lincoln, Aldie, Hamilton) - $2,000,000 - Public hearing on closure and boundaries scheduled for Mon, April 21
- Eliminate summer school - $820,000 (This reduction was adjusted to exclude $800,000 ESY and $680,000 revenue.)
- Delay the facility usage master plan - $600,000
- Reduce new positions in the central office:
- GIS Specialist - Transportation. $67,200 (1 position)
- Public Information Secretary $67,200 (1 position)
- Reduce new positions needed to maintain the level of service due to enrollment growth
- School Psychologist $86,450 (1 position)
- Educational Diagnostician $86,450 (1 position)
- Social Worker $91,850 (1 position)
- Substance Abuse Prevention Specialist $81,700 (1 position)
- Speech Language Pathologist $83,100 (1 position)
- Occupational Therapist $83,100 (1 position)
- Reduction in legal fees from Superintendent's budget - $30,000
- Remove coaching stipends for sports with no JV teams - $613,000
- Remove 1 Web developer position - $78,550 (1 position)
- Remove newly proposed position for a Gifted Education specialist - $112,200 (1 position)
- Eliminate FLES and SAMS (Spanish for grades 1-6) - $2,461,800 (33 positions)
- Eliminate bus service to Thomas Jefferson HS ($390,000) (the amount is now calculated)
- Eliminate activity buses -$81,000 (Ms. Rose clarified she wanted to maintain funding for field trip and athletic bus service)
- Reduce elementary school library assistants from 1.0 per school to 0.5 per school - $874,650 (24.5 positions) (corrected savings amount)
- Musical Theater magnet was not in the proposed budget. A straw vote was taken 4/1 whether to add it. It failed 1-7-1 with Rose in favor and Kuesters absent. Staff was directed to halt its implementation as of now.
- Eliminate expansion of full day kindergarten - $895,854 (14 positions) (savings corrected)
- Reduce technology assistants to half-time - $1,785,000 (50 positions)
- Eliminate hiring new bus drivers - $587,700 (18 positions)
- Eliminate Freshman sports - $260,000
- Eliminate College in Six program (cost is for 1 field trip per middle school per year)
- Elimination of 14 Assistant Athletic Directors - $1,307,500 (14 positions)
- Cap any proposed employee salary raises in the salary scale fix at 5% - $5,900,000
- Eliminate new positions from Support Services -
- Accounting Specialist $78,700 (1 position)
- Environmental Specialist $63,800 (1 position)
- Civil Engineering Coordinator $118,600 (1 position)
- Telecommunications analyst $78,800 (1 position)
- Resource Nurse $64,600 (1 position)
- Eliminate math facilitators - $596,800 (8 positions)
- Eliminate HS Deans - $149,200 (2 positions)
- Eliminate new Retirement and Disability Specialist - $67,800 (1 position)
- Remove all replacement buses from the budget - 30 school buses, 25 special education large buses, and 11 special education small buses - $7,073,600
- Alternative to elimination of middle school deans: eliminate house secretaries - $2,400,000 (45 positions)
The topics discussed at the meeting were bus service outside of to/from school, technology assistant reductions and what they are vs. Technology Resource Teachers, middle school deans, and special education positions.
The School Board decided to move forward with the process of closing small schools by scheduling a public hearing on closing the remaining small schools and boundary adjustments needed for Monday, April 21 at 6:30pm at the School Admin Building in Ashburn. A straw vote was taken to move forward and it passed 6-3 with Fox, Bergel, and Turgeon opposed.
The School Board also decided to send out system-wide RIF (reduction-in-force aka layoff) notifications to its employees. It is possible that approximately 200 positions may be reduced due to the budget cuts. The School Board is legally required to notify employees of potential RIFs in the next two weeks. Since they are unsure where the positions might be, it was decided it would be better to do a system-wide notification than wait for specifics to be calculated. The vote was 5-2-2 with Hornberger and Rose against, Reed and Morse absent (they had left the meeting already not expecting any more votes).
During discussion of the RIF notification, it was clear that the School Board had checked on the Board of Supervisors meeting progress during their breaks. Jennifer Bergel seemed to respond to Scott York's statement sent out earlier that day. Bergel said,
"We know what happened tonight. We know we were not funded at the level at which we proposed. It was real. It is real. We have to make this real. It is not any sort of emotional thing. This is reality.”
Finally, the School Board set the schedule for finalizing the budget reconciliation process. The discussion will continue Tuesday, April 8 at the regular School Board meeting. Public input is accepted at that meeting. Additionally, a public hearing and work session is scheduled for Wednesday, April 9 as needed. If additional meetings are needed after that, they will be scheduled at a later date. Both meetings are at 6:30pm at the School Admin building in Ashburn. To sign up to speak either night, call (571) 252-1020 in advance or register at the door prior to 6:30pm.