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Chairman York: Loudoun school system must change its ways

On a night when Loudoun's Board of Supervisors gave Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) a clear indication what it can expect in funding from the county for fiscal 2014, that news was overshadowed by what seemed to be cautionary – even threatening – words from board Chairman Scott York.

Near the close of Monday night's budget meeting, just before the board indicated it does not plan to fund a nearly $16 million shortfall in the school system's requested budget, York called out LCPS leadership for failing to bring the school system into the 21st century.

“Change is good, and my words today to the School Board: Change needs to happen at the top of the administration,” said York (R-At Large). “[LCPS Superintendent Dr. Edgar] Hatrick has served this county well for many years, but we are now in the 21st century. Many things have to change. And unfortunately sometimes in order for change to happen change has to first happen at the top.”

Hatrick has served as the superintendent of Loudoun County Public Schools since 1991.

The supervisors voted 5-2 Monday to move forward with a property tax rate of $1.205 per $100 in assessed value for the upcoming fiscal year that begins July 1. That rate is down from the current advertised figure of $1.23 per $100. Supervisors Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn) and Suzanne Volpe (R-Algonkian) opposed the $1.205 rate and pushed for deeper cuts, while Ken Reid (R-Leesburg) and Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling) were absent.

All votes on the upcoming year's budget to this point have been for guidance and can be altered until the board adopts the fiscal 2014 tax rate in early April.

Since their election in late 2011, members of Loudoun's all-Republican Board of Supervisors have studied LCPS and examined whether it's operating on a bloated budget.

The school system's overall adopted budget for fiscal 2014 came in at nearly $860 million in January. Approximately 66 percent of those funds will come from a Loudoun County tax transfer, but supervisors have refused to sign off on allocating the full amount.

For fiscal 2014, Hatrick requested a $56 million increase from 2013 before the School Board reduced its request to around $31 million. The supervisors agreed to fund $12 million of that amount, and additional funds from the state have come in to put the overall shortfall at nearly $16 million.

For the current fiscal year, the Board of Supervisors granted LCPS a $66 million increase from the previous year, which was still $20 million less than Hatrick's budget request.

Chairman York wasn't the only one to offer an unofficial threat Monday. Supervisor Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn), chair of the board's finance committee, made a motion to set a tax rate of $1.19 per $100 to essentially force LCPS to find cost-savings.

“I want the school staff to start working with us to find efficiencies in the system,” Buona said. “And if they aren't willing to do that, then we're going to, with this motion, we're essentially going to tell them: You're going to have to find the efficiencies, because this is all you have to work with.”

Buona and Volpe were the only two who supported adopting a tax rate of $1.19, which would've bumped the schools' request to approximately $25 million.

Volpe claimed some constituents will have to move out of the county if her colleagues don't agree to a $1.19 rate, even though county staff said that would only amount to a $60 average savings in their tax bill compared with a $1.205 rate.

Members of the Loudoun County School Board have highlighted the need for more local funding so the district can remain competitive in terms of teacher pay and personnel, as well as the district's ever-growing population. LCPS is expected to welcome 2,500 new students next school year and open two new high schools.

Loudoun County's per pupil spending on education is among the lowest in Northern Virginia for the current fiscal year. Arlington spent more than $18,500 per student, Alexandria $17,000 and Fairfax $13,600, while Loudoun's per pupil cost is nearly $11,600

Several supervisors balked at the notion the $16 million LCPS are requesting is really necessary.

Said Supervisor Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles), “I don't believe that the School Board has really clearly articulated what happens if in fact there is a $16 million fact … I mean, that really hasn't been made clear.”

Still, Letourneau made a motion to add more than $2 million to the LCPS allocation, but it failed for lack of a second.

While a tax rate of $1.23 per $100 is estimated to represent an equalized tax bill for the average Loudoun homeowner, shifting assessments throughout the county are likely to cause a number of Loudoun residents to see a tax hike at that rate, which is why supervisors have lobbied for the $1.205 rate.

Fiscal 2014 runs from July 2013 through June 2014. For fiscal 2013, the board adopted a tax rate of $1.235. In fiscal 2012 it was $1.285.

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Did you feel the lever get pulled? Start walking!

Maybe you and Bill should go door to door to explain your “pinching pennies” bus proposal to neighbors in your district.

Don’t need a poll. The BOS says cut and that’s what will happen The noose is getting tighter around the bus transportation costs. Bill Fox is telling us something when he says services will be cut. Would you rather pony up to the table and pay part of the cost for bus service or would you rather be stubborn and wait until bus service is cancelled. Special ed students will get their rides but the other 44 thousand students will have to figure out their own way to school. Maybe you are being penny wise and pound foolish?

“Give the parents the option to pay for the bus service or get their child to school on their own, I bet most would be willing to pay”

Conducting a poll, creating a ballot?

Worn out digested baloney is all you could come up with?
31 million 600 thousand over 10 years is 316 million dollars Mr. Equity and that is more then a few pounds but for you I will translate it. 316 million dollars equals 208876000 Enlish pounds you can do the pennies yourself.
Take that times many counties in Virginia and you are talking about billions of dollars over a 10 year span.
Pressure is going to be put on school boards and supervisors nationwide to curtail spending and if parents are smart they would get behind paying for the school bus transportation before it goes like California, Washington and Colorado.

Can you say “penny wise, pound foolish?”

Exempt the special education students and the below poverty level student from school bus fees. That leaves about 44,000 bus riders at about 4 dollars a day. That’s 31 million 680 thousand dollars for school taxi service. Even if you get the parents to pay half the cost of the bus transportation you make up the school budget shortfall this year. Give the parents the option to pay for the bus service or get their child to school on their own, I bet most would be willing to pay after a week or 2. 95 counties in Virginia plus 35 cities and if they charged just 2 dollars a day for bus service look at how much money could go back into educating students instead of providing a free ride on the taxpayer dollar. Moaners and groaners aside it makes sense.

VA DOE guidelines on transportation are found on pages 94 and 101:


While there is no mandate for school districts to provide transportation (note that guidelines say “if”), I cannot imagine a quality school system without that provision, especially where still very rural districts exist.  Is there a VA school system that doesn’t offer transportation? 

It doesn’t seem very cost effective to add more congestion on Loudoun roads by demanding private transportation for 60,000 students. I can just hear the whining about longer waits at intersections, and foresee the impatience of late-to-work parents. 

Maybe our brightest students in economics should be looking for cost-savings?  Maybe our upcoming scientists could invent better people-movers?  Education is about our future.

Mandated by who I ask?

Oranges, you couldn’t be more wrong about the bus situation.  Free, safe transportation to/from public school is legally mandated.  Besides, if you’re making the case that parents can afford to pay for alternate transportation, why can’t they afford to pay a tax rate that would include safe, efficient buses?  If we drew school boundaries that were as short and efficient as possible (but that would anger parents/students in the short term), we could save millions.  We should create more efficient boundaries and bus routes, but we should never consider cutting transportation that so many students rely upon.  It’s going to cost either way, so why not use the tax base to support free, quality public education for everyone?  Part of living in a community is taking care of your neighbors and coworkers.

We should not be providing school bus service at no cost to students unless they are special education students or fall below the poverty level. With a median household income of 115k parents in Loudoun County ought to be paying for the safest,most economical and convenient transportation for their children.
If a driver is making 20k then you do not deserve full time benefits for working only 1300 hours. Don’t get run over when you leave but please go.

I hope Loudoun parents are prepared to drive their children to and from school, because me and my fellow employees are tired of all the cuts, and with the cuts Loudoun has nothing more to offer us drivers, my annually pay is 20,000, my main reason for staying with the county for the past 7 years is the benefits you take that away and LCPS has nothing more to offer me, I have a nursing degree and will have to find employment else where, and major of the other drivers are talking the same, so be prepared LCPS parents if these changes go into effect then the county will loose ALOT OF BUS DRIVERS, its sad but true!

Jaime Ayala entered an Alford plea.
“Ayala’s defense was that he was only the driver and didn’t participate in the viciousness of the attacks on William and Cynthia Bennett.”

“Darwin Bowman, of Annandale, is charged with capital murder and a slew of other offenses in the 2009 killing of William Bennett and savage beating and rape of Cynthia Bennett in Lansdowne.
“The attack changed Cynthia Bennett’s life forever and propelled her on an arduous journey to recovery.
“William and Cynthia Bennett were walking on Riverside Parkway in Lansdowne when they were attacked near the intersection of Rocky Creek Drive.
“William Bennett didn’t survive the attack, killed by what was described as blunt trauma. His body was found discarded just steps from the road.
The details of the attack were described as particularly vicious.
Plowman, who has prosecuted hundreds of cases, said at the time, “I’ve never seen anything like this before.”
Bowman also faces charges of abduction, robbery, rape, object sexual penetration and aggravated malicious wounding. If convicted with capital murder, he could face the death penalty.

“The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office and Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office have also named Anthony Roberts, of Middleburg, as a suspect in the case. Although Roberts has not been charged in the Lansdowne attack, he is serving a prison sentence for a string of burglaries in Middleburg and Leesburg and for a slew of other charges. Roberts is expected to be charged in the case.”

“not impressed”, I’m not very impressed with the folks who continue to post on various unrelated articles that the Lansdowne attacks have never been prosecuted, punished, etc.

The first sentencing (which comes after prosecution, btw) was over a year ago:



NoFreeLunch, I AGREE! Could everyone keep their comments on the LCPS subject…not the LCSD? What happens with the LCPS vote will have a major impact on many! Vent your frustrations regarding the Sheriffs Department on a thread discussing that issue! :(

start by killing those outrageous administrative positions in schools. In a state-wide (and a national) analysis, there are two of these tax-hiking bureacrats inside the school system for every actual teaching position. Get rid of the overhead, and you won’t need to touch the classroom or the teachers.

Is it me or did this article’s comments get partially hijacked into discussing deputy salaries?

A great teacher beats a great techno promethium board anytime.

Orange 869: no one has convicted or sentenced the murderers of William Bennett and the ones who maimed his wife. Four years. March 22, 2009.

In the know…. read the list… Loudoun has the 2nd largest population next to ffx of anyone on the list….

You telling me crime is higher in Purcellville,  Vienna or mwaa then in Sterling Park.. please, that’s funny…. Sterling probably has a higher crime rate then anywhere in ffx county.

You guys have 700 employees,  why would I compare you to Clark or Fredrick or Faquier when they each only have between 20 and 50 employees.  Seems to me like you still believe Loudoun is a farm town, sorry but it isnt…....

Low salaries? You have to be kidding me! Again, I’m a 7 year veteran School Bus Driver who knows her kids names, what their parents drive, and all the pets names! I make 15k annually, and would drive more, but there isn’t any work. Seniority has disappeared, and everything is done ‘administratively’. My health insurance increase under Scott Yorks proposal would slam me with an increase of $2436.02 annually! Keep in mind 6 months of my mortgage payments are only 2,500! Where does Mr. York think I should plant my money tree? Lets face it, we haven’t seen raises in 4 years! And I still don’t know why the Sheriffs Dept. needed to get new guns issued to all the Officers….why? The old ones don’t go ‘bang’ anymore? Just wait until more than half of loudoun kids don’t have a ride to school this fall! I’m fed up with having the annual anvil hanging over my head! The BOS needs to stop sawing through the bottom rung of the food chain ladder! :(

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