Talking about the Schools Budget

The County Administrator presented his budget with a projected $25 million shortfall for the schools. The School Board will be presenting its adopted operating budget and capital improvement plan to the Board of Supervisors this Thursday, February 12 at 6pm at the County Government Center in Leesburg. The Board of Supervisors has scheduled public hearings on the budget for February 25, 26 (if needed due to overflow on the 25th), and 28th. The BOS plans to finalize the budget on April 1.

So, from now until then, we need to let the Board of Supervisors know why we support the School Board's adopted budget. If it's not fully funded, any of the new expenses could be cut. You can speak at a public hearing, write an email to your Board members, call your Board members, write them on Facebook, tweet, and so on. In preparation for that, let's look into just what's in this budget and what might be something you and your neighbors in particular support.

New stuff
  • Expansion of full-day kindergarten - $2.5 million
  • Expands full-day kindergarten from 11% to 35% of kindergarteners, concentrating on at-risk students. A lottery system is proposed to fill any extra seats for students not at-risk. These schools are projected to add full-day kindergarten classes:
  • Technology improvements - $2.9 million
    • Continue the bandwidth improvements from last year
    • Replace computers over 5 years old
  • Reduce high school class size average by 1 student - $3.6 million
    • Will reduce LCPS high school class size average from 27.9 to 26.9
    • School Board's stated goal is 25.9
    • Loudoun has the second highest high school class size average in the Washington metro area
    • When including all teacher-scale positions (reading specialists, ELL, librarians, coaches, etc.), Loudoun has the highest high school students per teacher average in the Washington metro area 
  • Add a special education post-secondary transition specialist - $119,900
Special education students have special needs when leaving the school system. This adds a specialist to concentrate on this area, easing the burden on special education teachers and parents.
Loudoun's ELL program lags behind other neighboring counties. This brings them more in line, while still being less staffed.
  • New staff to open Riverside High School in Lansdowne this September, 2015 - $2.5 million
  • Initial staff for the new elementary school in Brambleton opening September, 2016 - $0.1 million
  • Playground for Meadowland Elementary - $50,000
Four elementary schools do not have playgrounds. The new ones will be funded through leftover bond money from their construction, but Meadowland is an old school that never raised enough funds to build a playground. This will come out of the operating budget. All future elementary schools will now include playgrounds.
Enrollment Growth
  • Enrollment is projected to increase by 3.4% - $22.2 million for school-based staff to cover this
  • Extra teachers to maintain class sizes as needed - $0.7 million
  • All staff is only increasing by 3.5%
Salary Increases
  • Step increases for all eligible employees (average 2.5% increase) - $17.4 million
  • 1% increase for staff ineligible for a step increase at the top of the salary scale - $350,000 
Restoring some things we used to have
Changes the formula from 1 dean if less than 1100 students, 2 deans 1100-1299, 3 deans 1300+ TO 2 deans if less than 1200 students and 3 deans if 1200+. These middle schools all will add 1 dean: 

    • Traditional summer school - $550,000
    • Health clinic at Hillsboro Elementary - $0.1 million
    Superintendent Williams and his staff worked hard to to save in areas in order to offset the new expenses. Here are some of those areas:
    • Increases health insurance co-pays and deductibles in an attempt to bring the self-insured fund out of debt
    • Reallocates 20 ELL Kindergarten teaching assistants
    • Eliminates vacant bus driver and assistant openings
    • Decreases technology lease expenses
    As we look over the schools budget, it's important to share the information most relevant to us with our neighbors as well as our Board of Supervisors. Let's see if we can't force that overflow public hearing on February 26th. 

    No comments:

    Post a Comment