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EDITORIAL: For $1 billion, citizens should expect accountability from Loudoun County Public Schools

It’s budget season and the timing couldn’t be worse for Loudoun County Public Schools.

The school district shrugs off criticism with a protectionist approach to its problems. It rejects anti-discrimination policies addressing vulnerable minorities, students and employees alike. It thumbs it’s nose at recommendations from Virginia’s attorney general, the ACLU and community leaders (see letter below). And it ignores the same anti-discrimination policies that have been adopted by other school districts in Virginia, including neighboring Fairfax County.

Moreover, when asked for simple explanations about incidents involving students or educators, school officials go mum. They defend silence over any explanation, fostering rumors and suspicions. Is there a basis to allegations of sexual misconduct against students by a former band director? Why did a beloved principal suddenly and inexplicably take leave from his job? What did administrators know about these situations? How did they address them?

The community is entitled to know.

The optics are ugly. An unfavorable spotlight now shines on the School Board and the district’s schools administration as it confronts a burgeoning budget that rises steadily above $1 billion.

Does the community receive assurances from school leaders that public education in Loudoun is under control? No. The superintendent of schools says nothing. That is until he asks for more money in the budget for county schools.

Funding a budget that exceeds $1 billion -- roughly half of county government expenditures -- should bring scrutiny, due diligence and accountability. The county budget process now affords the school district a chance to justify its expensive funding request to taxpayers with full and honest disclosure of its policies, programs, procedures and, yes, problems. A public vetting is the only way to move beyond protectionism to a responsible, financially prudent plan for our schools.

School leaders should not forget who funds our schools. No, it’s not the Board of Supervisors. It’s the county’s taxpayers. And taxpayers demand a full accounting of how the most public of our community institutions is managed.


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