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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! :(

ffax cop (if you are really one and not a dep), no personal attacks in my post at all, not sure how stating observations and facts can be called an attack.  Funny, the salaries are all pretty close.  If you check the websites you will find that ffax cops and the rest of their county employees are getting a ZERO raise this year.  Looks like the deps here in Loudoun and the rest of the county workers are getting a raise.  On another note, the LCSO does exit interviews, if you think that there are these deputies who have left you should ask the LCSO to publish the results of these exit interviews and see how many (if any) of the ones who left went to ffax or other local agencies.  I imagine very few, most who leave just get out of law enforcement or go to federal agencies.  In any comparison of pay there should be included Faquier, Clarke, Frederick, and Winchester, etc.  you can’t just include the much more highly populated and expensive places to the east.  Like I said before, there are a whole lot of cops in other places that would love to come work here for what Loudoun pay is.  Your statement of them driving 50 miles is a little far fetched as Clark Co. is only half of that from Leesburg and Winchester isn’t much further.  Many Loudoun deps already live out that way just like most ffax officers don’t live in ffax and drive a long way to get there, guess like your situation.

Ken Reid is still a supervisor? That’s something to laugh about or cry as you see fit.
Is today the one year anniversary of Donna turning evidence over to Scott York about Delgaudio. I know the wheels of justice turn slowly but killers, rapist and thieves have all been arrested, convicted and sentenced in less time.
It took 6 months to try Charlie Manson, it took 9 months to try OJ can we at least get it on as the old boxing referee would say. It’s been over 6 weeks since the blurb about the Grand Jury, c’mon man! It must be all them holidays getting in the way.

Great post on salaries….... un real..

Embarrassing and disrespectful to pay Deputies so low….

The more things change, the more they stay the same.  Look who skipped the meeting.  Ken Reid.  What a surprise.  Ken Reid knows only one way to vote - hide first, then claim whatever the listener wants to hear from him, later.  Soooooooooo, when Ken Reid runs for re-election, are we going to hear from him that he hid from the vote on the tax rate?  Of course not.  We will hear how he led the charge on the tax rate vote.  What a guy!

At some point, we’ll have to stop comparing LCPS with Fairfax and Prince William, and start focusing on being in a middle ground between Frederick/Winchester/Clarke and Fairfax/Prince William.

We’ll have lower taxes, to be sure. But will it be worth it?

When did any of the BOS or for that matter School Board members last spend a full day in a school and/or classroom? They need to shadow some of their constituents (yes, many LCPS teachers are also taxpayers) to get a better picture of how their decisions affect children directly.  If they wish to go the route of the mediocre, then they’ll keep on cutting.

Deputies most likely are sensitive that their needs are overshadowed by those of the public school system?

Since the conversation has seemed to move here I did some quick research and this is a list of the publicly posted entry-level salaries of local law enforcement agencies. Just food for thought.

Loudoun 43
Middleburg 46
Falls Church 46
Metro Transit 48
Arlington 48
Alexandria 48
Fairfax 49
Vienna 49
MWAA Police 50
Leesburg 50
Herndon 51
Purcellville 51

In the know.. that’s a questionable name. Just fyi, morale in every department sucks - that’s police work….

Morale in ffx sucks. No take home cars, a joke patrol rifle program and notnto mention that when you try and get a promotion your competing with hundreds of peers.

We stay because we get PAID. Every LCSO deputy I talk to enjoys working in Loudoun, they are just grossly underpaid.

In the know, every comment you make sounds like a personal attack. Stick to the facts. Also, why would you want a host of people 50+ miles away taking loudoun jobs and loudoun pay checks out of the county.

Not sure why the deputy is posting on this thread but the short answer to his complaints is that nobody is leaving the LCSO due to pay, they are leaving to the morale issues and forced overtime due to the way the new sheriff has chosen to remove officers from patrol and reassign them to specialty units.  The remaining patrol officers have to pick up the slack by working overtime and this hasn’t exactly resulted in high morale.  There are plenty of Clarke Co., Frederick Co., and others who would love to come and work for the much higher salary that is made by Loudoun deputies.  If the deputies should be upset with anyone, it should be the sheriff for the way he has decided to spend money and the resulting budget scandal that has come to light.  All that money spent on unnecessary new hats, guns, uniforms, and new teams could have been used to help out the deputies.

It is laughable that Volpe claims her constituents might have to move if they don’t lower the tax rate. Until last December, I was one of her constituents. I am also an LCPS teacher. I had to move out of the county, not because of my taxes, but because of stagnating pay rates, decreasing insurance benefits, and increasing costs of living. The lower tax rate will save the average household a couple hundred bucks spread over the whole year, but it will cost individual teachers and police officers thousands in total compensation each year. I’m all for fiscally responsible schools and government, but taxpayers, particularly parents, need to consider what is best in the long run. We can’t keep building new homes without improving our infrastructure.  Given this BOS we can barely maintain our infrastructure, let alone improve it.

As a teacher and a parent for LCPS, I am outraged at the continued ignorance of our BOS and school board members. Mr. York claims that the school system is failing to bring us into the 21st century and then votes to not fund the budget fully? Welcome to the 21st century Mr. York! Do you think running a school system isn’t going to cost you? How do you expect our county to compete with neighboring counties in education and pay scales if you aren’t willing to support it? It doesn’t work that way. Period. Classrooms are busting at the seams. When you slash budgets, it’s teachers and resources that get slashed. What do they do with the students? They cram them into more classrooms. That is not the way to support our students and provide quality education. It is becoming impossible to meet the needs of all students in the class.  It means it takes a lot longer to grade and asses work. It means we don’t get to check in with all students to be sure they understand the concepts and skills being taught. I don’t want that for my own child, and parents, you shouldn’t want it for yours. It’s happening. It will only continue to get worse. We are maxed out. It is time for parents to get angry. Get informed of exactly how your child needs are being met. Don’t sit back and be idle during the budget season year after year. They (Board of Supervisors and School Board) don’t listen to the employees.  They will listen to the parents. Get angry and stand up for quality education in Loudoun!

247wallstreet.com, Oct. 15, 2012, on education:

Top 10 states: MA, MD, CO, CT, VT, NJ, VA, NH, NY, and MN
  (majority Democratic governance)
Bottom 10 states: WV, MS, AR, KY, LA, AL, NV, IN, TN, and OK
  (majority Republican governance)

People complain about the cost of public education in Loudoun.  What cost would it be for Virginia to go the way of privatization as McDonnell has suggested is exemplified in Louisiana charters, paid for with public tax dollars?  No thanks.



Oh, and another thing I’m confused about is why Sheriff’s Deputies are commenting on an LCPS issue…shouldn’t that be on another thread?

I have been a School Bus Driver for 7 years, I make less than I did when I started. I do it because I love my kids, Parents and Administrators. I make 15k annually, if my monthly contribution toward insurance increases to almost $400.00 I will have no choice but to leave LCPS. I have one question for the SB, BOS and Parents…do you really want to loose 70% of your experienced Drivers (it will happen), and how do you plan to replace us under these circumstances?

Change needs to happen at the top of the administration,” said York (R-At Large). ........Look in the mirror, Amigo.  Change needs to happen at the guy looking back at you.

To sum up:
• Two years ago, a trumped-up appraisal was ordered to compensate the National Conference Center $6.5 million to build a parking deck.
• Three months later, the Board of Equalization reduced the NCC’s appraisal by the price of the parking deck so the NCC would not have to pay taxes based on an artificially inflated appraisal. 
• York and the BOS used the appraisal to justify paying the NCC $20 million for 45 acres of unbuildable land to build a new high school in Lansdowne. The entire 112-acre NCC property was appraised at only $22 million.
• The BOS fired the tax assessor who had increased the county’s taxable real estate portfolio by $18 billion and appointed the commissioner of revenue, who they control, to do appraisals.
• The board approved a 4 to 6 lane highway that will run from I-95 at the Occoquan to the entrance to Belmont Ridge Middle School.
• This is NOT for a “friggin’ outer beltway,” York said. No sir-ee.
• The BOS voted to destroy five free, public, irrigated sports fields on a separate unbuildable parcel to actually site the high school in Lansdowne since the NCC parcel cannot support such a structure, and never could. What they will do about subterranean water and construction trash at the new site is not yet clear.
• Supported by deceptive comments from the dais by Supervisors LeTourneau (the champion of athletic fields) and Buona, in October 2012 York sold 75 prime buildable acres in Ashburn to Raging Wire for $20 million. The land was originally intended to be a school site and is ideally located to relieve overcrowding at Briar Woods and Broad Run High Schools.
• This week, the BOS shorted the public schools’ budget by $20 million to run new schools needed to house kids who will move into residential development on land at One Loudoun, Belmont, and Lexington Seven that these same supervisors rezoned from commercial to residential to satisfy developers who give them large donations.
• Mr. Buona loudly proclaimed the BOS will reduce the tax RATE.
• The BOS blames the cumulative reeking mess on Edgar Hatrick, who they can’t control because Loudoun Public Schools are expert in dealing with middle school bullying, and that is the MO of this Board of Supervisors. Government by clowns is both inefficient and expensive. In Loudoun it is enabled by taxpayer inattention.
Voting out York and this BOS is a start to regaining control, but it won’t be enough. Taxpayers have to shake off entitlement and pay attention to the appraisal process, not the tax rate that Mr. Buona used to divert their attention.
Few taxpayers understand the concept of equalization and how it has been used to deceive them and seize control of the taxing process to milk residents of HOAs and relieve the burden on owners of large parcels that will eventually be purchased in sweetheart deals enabled by county government.
Who isn’t paying their fair share of real estate taxes in Loudoun County? It’s not hard to figure that out. But where is the reporter, the publisher, the commonwealth attorney, or the federal investigator who will break the vise-like grip of the invisible hand that controls the revenue stream in “the richest county in the nation?”
The county government is in the hands of sycophants who serve the greed and avarice of those who want roads built at public expense to open the acreage west of Route 15 to residential development.

how about cutting the spending on the holiday decorations…

Scott York.

Shame on you… Shame..

Your Deputies need a 15% pay raise across the board.  Its embarrassing as a tax payer that we are cheating and scamming the folks that swear to protect us.

Give the Deputies a raise so we as taxpayers dont pay millions to re recruit, hire and train new officers to replace the ones that are leaving. Loudoun brothers,  if they dont pay you - leave. Ffx will hire you in a second.  Loudoun Board, pay a little now or a lot later.

Seems pretty clear on this one.  We have the 9-0 republican board of supervisors who want to get reelected, and they just can’t believe that that darn school board won’t take all the heat on spending.  And so, we get threats, posturing, and a whole lot of huff/puff.  But, election time meand something.  Next election, let’s see Scott York and the others make a decision.  Do they play to the “cut all spending” crowd or do they “represent the people.”  I have little doubt that it will be to play to the cut all spending crowd.  Question is, how many of them are there, really?

This article is missing basic facts. What is the year-over-year change in the number of children in the system? An increase in funding that’s proportional to the number of children might make sense.

If pro-development policies are resulting in increased population and increased number of children in the schools, we are looking at a board that’s refusing to accept the cost of decisions it has made in the past.

We don’t know how the school board’s budget has changed, either. Is the requested increase necessary to cover the cost of building new schools, or for other expenses?

Again, a lot of big talk from York with little action. Wow, we saved the tax payers a whole 3 cents, even though most assessment have gone up(mine went up $80K). Our BOS and School Board need to grow a pair. It’s disgusting to see our tax money go to wasteful spending.

Change needs to happen with our BOS. Horrible, corrupt leadership is alive in Loudoun.

Because the Board of Supervisors doesn’t seem to mind whatever happens, Keep Loudoun Beautiful, so long as they get to claim they slashed taxes. It’s precisely the same misguided, ideologically-fueled dysfunction that’s been in operation 30 miles to the east.

Mr York.

Sir. Please do a study with neighboring jurisdictions to evaluate how poorly Deputies are paid in Loudoun County.

This is how you do it. Look at salary of 10 year officers. See what vested employees are getting.

Please compair average salaries of officers in Fairfax, Montgomery,  Prince william, Arlington, Alexandria,  Herndon,  Falls Church,  Fairfax City even Leesburg. 

You will find Loudouns finest are 20 to 25% behind their peers. How embarrassing is that.. Please fix this issue. Rumor is that 15 to 20 deputies are in the process of leaving the department as we speak to go to neighboring jurisdictions.  This will ultimately cost tax payers millions and millions to retrain and hire hew officer’s.

Everyone talks about teachers salaries and how Loudoun needs to be competitive with its neighbors.  Why do YOU and the board always overlook the deputies? Why dont you care? Why dont you fix this?

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