School Board 4/1 work session recap

The School Board's first work session to reconcile their budget with the reduction in funding from the Board of Supervisors was held at Farmwell Station Middle School, Tuesday, April 1. The regular School Administration Building was already scheduled for a Step Up Loudoun event so the meeting was not broadcast. The webcast should be available shortly though. School Board member Kevin Kuesters (Broad Run) was absent from the meeting.

Fifty-four people signed up to speak. Two speakers asked the School Board to keep the proposed increase in teacher salaries. Two speakers asked to keep middle school deans along with speaking on another issue. Four speakers asked to keep the stipend for National Board Certified teachers (apparently that worked - it wasn't proposed to be cut.) Two speakers asked not to cut freshman sports or assistant athletic directors. One speaker asked not to cut freshman sports. One speaker advocated for not cutting any sports and was disgusted people were advocating for one sport over another. That was directed to the approximately 40 people who asked the School Board not to cut high school swimming (it also was not proposed for a cut). Loudoun Education Association president Joey Matthews urged those in attendance to go to the Board of Supervisors meeting Wednesday, April 2, at 4pm no matter what the reason the speakers were there in support of increasing funding to our schools. It's your last chance.

School Board chair Eric Hornberger began the meeting by explaining his responsibility for the swim team supporters coming out. He had sent an email asking staff how much swimming costs. The answer was approximately $60,000-$70,000 and serves approximately 600 students. Based on the response, he was not considering it for a cut. He then set up the plan and rules for the night: each School Board member could propose a cut in the hopes of getting to the expected $38 million in reductions necessary to reconcile their budget with the funding provided by the Board of Supervisors. Any proposal would need a second by another School Board member. Final votes on the cuts would not be taken until next week at the earliest.

A total of $41,560,906 in cuts were proposed. However, there is overlap in some of them and further research required in many to find out the actual costs. They were as follows, listed with the expected cost reduction and any positions that would be eliminated if known. Any position costs listed include both salary and benefits.

  • 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
  • Increase teaching load of MS SALTs (department chairs) - $900,000
  • 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
  • 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 - would require boundary process and public hearings
  • Eliminate summer school - $1,800,000 (some may be required for special education or elementary education)
  • Delay the facility usage master plan - $600,000
  • Reduce new positions in the central office:
    • GIS Specialist - Transportation. $67,200
    • Public Information Secretary $67,200
  • Reduce new positions needed to maintain the level of service due to enrollment growth
    • School Psychologist $86,450
    • Educational Diagnostician $86,450
    • Social Worker $91,850
    • Substance Abuse Prevention Specialist $81,700
    • Speech Language Pathologist $83,100
    • Occupational Therapist $83,100
  • 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
  • Remove newly proposed position for a Gifted Education specialist - $112,200
  • Eliminate FLES and SAMS (Spanish for grades 1-6) - $2,461,800
  • Cut bus service to Thomas Jefferson HS (cost TBD)
  • Eliminate buses outside of transportation to/from school - $2,178,000 - the School Board would like various uses costed separately (field trips vs. after school activities, etc.)
  • Reduce elementary school library assistants from 1.0 per school to 0.5 per school - $1,200,000 (24.5 positions)
  • Musical Theater magnet was not in the proposed budget. A straw vote was taken whether to add it. It failed. Staff was directed to halt its implementation as of now.
  • Eliminate expansion of full day kindergarten - $887,454 (14 positions)
  • 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 (15 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
    • Environmental Specialist $63,800
    • Civil Engineering Coordinator $118,600
    • Telecommunications analyst $78,800
    • Resource Nurse $96,900
  • Eliminate math facilitators - $596,800 
  • 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

At the end of the meeting, School Board members had time to make statements if they chose. School Board members Sheridan, Bergel, and Reed all asked you to attend the Board of Supervisors meeting April 2 at 4pm in Leesburg. The BoS will finalize the $38 million in cuts to the schools budget. It's your last chance to change their minds. Sheridan and Bergel made pleas to the sports supporters there to tell the Board of Supervisors to increase their funding before final budget adoption. Mr. Reed suggested you call your supervisors and insist on speaking to them directly. The Board of Supervisors can be reached at (703) 777-0204 and loudounbudget@loudoun.gov. To sign up to speak at the Board of Supervisors April 2 meeting, call (703) 777-0200 by noon or sign up in person at the meeting. Last year, the Board of Supervisors adopted the final budget prior to the public input portion of the meeting, so plan to get there at 4pm for a final show of support.

School Board chair Eric Hornberger ended the night by explaining that the School Board will hold another work session April 2 which will include an update on the Superintendent search as well as further budget reconciliation work. It will be at 6:30pm in the School Administration building. However, no public input will be accepted since the Board of Supervisors will be accepting public input at that time. Notifications for any reductions in force (layoffs/RIFs) will likely have to be voted on at the next regular School Board meeting on Tuesday, April 8 due to legal deadlines for notifications. Further work sessions, with another opportunity for public input expected, will occur after next Tuesday, dates TBD.

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