3/18/15

I am SOS Loudoun

My name is Joy Maloney and I am Support Our Schools - Loudoun. 

I write all of these updates, the Facebook and Google+ posts, and the tweets. I speak to our elected officials and their staff at the Board of Supervisors and School Board meetings, at the public hearings, after the meetings one-on-one, on the telephone, and by email in support of our schools. I am the person who has been keeping you updated on the budget process for the past two years and urging you to become and remain involved. 

Many people already know that I am behind this effort, but I chose to remain anonymous to keep the focus on the issues and not the messenger. Today, I am speaking out because I need your support. 

I intend to run for School Board representing the Broad Run district this November. We need to make a change for the best for our kids, our schools, and our community. You can learn more at http://www.joymaloney.com.

This doesn't close the book on Support Our Schools - Loudoun. I hope that the April 1 vote is just a formality, and the schools' budget will be fully funded. I will continue to keep you informed. As you might expect, I will be communicating more through my campaign in the months ahead. In any case, I hope you know that my commitment to making our schools the best for our kids and our community is now and has always been my driving goal. 

Thank you as always for your support.

3/16/15

WE DID IT!!!! (almost)



Last night, Board of Supervisors chairman Scott York made a motion to fully fund the schools budget. It passed 6-3!!!

The final vote is April 1. Send an email to loudounbudget@loudoun.gov thanking the 6 supervisors who voted for it: Scott York, Janet Clarke, Shawn Williams, Matt Letourneau, Ralph Buona, and Geary Higgins.

While you're thanking people, give yourself a pat on the back. The 6 supervisors said that there were several reasons they supported full funding his year. They mentioned new Superintendent Dr. Williams being more cooperative and transparent as well as the size of the increase being reasonable. Clearly, that played a big part.

But they didn't mention the one thing that we all know: the people spoke and they decided it was finally a good time to listen. Last year was a build up to this year. It was clear the Board of Supervisors went into this budget season wanting to avoid a repeat of the punishment they took from their actions last year. Some of the School Board got the message as well, distancing themselves from last year's unanimously passed School Board budget request to help take some blame off the Board of Supervisors. We started something last year and this year we finished it.

If you sent an email, made a phone call, spoke at a public hearing, spoke privately to your supervisors, invited them to your schools...you are all part of this. After you thank the supervisors, take a second and remember what we did together. Thank you!!!

3/3/15

We're very close to full funding

It could really be happening. Four of the supervisors on the Board are not running for re-election. Three of them came out publicly in support of full funding of the schools budget, or very close to it (approximately $1.2 million short) at the budget work session last night. 

Isn't it ironic that two of the speakers from Saturday's public hearing spoke of the BoS disheartening them to near apathy at the budget process, which they both decided to ignore to come speak in support of our schools anyway. This could be the year that their hard work finally pays off.

Monday night's meeting began with a recap of the state budget's effect on the schools. The legislature had agreed to increase the state's share of teacher pay by 1.5%, which would provide LCPS with around $2.6 million more than they had accounted for. The budget gap would thus be narrowed to around $23 million.

Supervisor Ralph Buona (Ashburn) then moved the needle along by suggesting using the $7 million in surplus County funds from this year that had been set aside for replenishing the schools' self-insurance fund be reallocated to narrow the operating budget gap. The County staff informed the Board that a better idea was to use the $6.8 million fund balance set aside to offset the missing revenue at an equalized tax rate. Either way, the schools budget gap would be narrowed now to around $15.5 million.

Janet Clarke was first up then, saying she would support keeping the current tax rate of $1.155 in order to cover the last amount and fully fund the schools. Scott York followed by announcing he was in support of a $1.15 tax rate to leave an approximate $1.2 million budget gap.

Ken Reid was strongly suspected to also be in support of that, and the Loudoun Times confirmed it after the meeting. Shawn Williams proposed using the current tax rate as the initial budget guidance back in September and consistently voted for it. 

That leaves one more vote to get the schools budget fully funded. One can assume given their past stances that Delgaudio and Volpe would be very unlikely to support fully funding the schools. Likewise, Geary Higgins, although a former School Board member, seems like a stretch given his comments on the record. Still, his primary opponent has withdrawn so that may change the calculus.

Thus, it most likely will come down to either Ralph Buona (Ashburn) or Matt Letourneau (Dulles) to provide the needed fifth vote in favor of full funding.

You can reach them at (703) 777-0204 or by email at:

Don't let up on any of the other supervisors either. The final vote is not expected until April 1.

The discussion to add a Dulles North elementary school and a Dulles South middle school to the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) without going over the recommended debt limit was not very contentious. The BoS will be looking at several scenarios of combinations of school and county CIP projects that could be delayed or debt issuance timeline changed to fit them in.

If you spoke at a public hearing, be sure to send a follow-up email to your supervisors and cc: loudounbudget@loudoun.gov so all parties receive it.

The Board of Supervisors will also be holding a public hearing on March 18 at 5pm at the Government Center in Leesburg on the possible rise in taxes due to the assessment increases being over 1%.  State law requires they hold a public hearing whenever the tax revenue collected changes by more than 1%.