The relationship between Thomas Jefferson High School for Science in Technology and Loudoun County Public Schools isn't dead after all.
By a unanimous vote at the Sept. 24 Loudoun County School Board meeting, the School Board chose to continue the relationship with the prestigious science and technology school in Fairfax County.
On Sept. 18, Dr. Karen Garza, the Superintendent for Fairfax County Public Schools, sent a letter and agreement to the School Board for consideration regarding the admission of eligible Loudoun County Public School students to TJHSST.
In the letter, Garza proposed a two-tiered tuition rate structure For students who already attend TJHSST and will be returning for the 2014-2015 school year, tuition will be $14,000 per pupil.
For LCPS students new to TJHSST, the tuition would include a portion of the capital renovation costs for a total tuition amount of $16,074.
Kevin Kuesters (Broad Run) said he has had one constituent voice their displeasure with paying for construction costs for another county.
“I don't think it is unfair or inappropriate that we are paying for part of that school because we are using part of that school,” Kuesters said. “Quite frankly if it was us, I think we would do the same thing and I don't think the formula Fairfax is using is unfair or takes advantage of us. It strikes the right balance of trying to share the cost of all the people who are using it.”
Chairman Eric Hornberger (Ashburn) agreed to an extent.
“From the contract, it is very clear this is not our school. We have no say in the school. No say in the renovation costs, what is involved, what it would look like or how it would work. We have no say actually whether or not we get a contract next year,” Hornberger said. “That is the most disconcerting to me is that we are a large county and we have to go outside of our jurisdiction in order to provide this caliber of education for students and that is a problem.”
Students and families in Loudoun County have been waiting since February to hear if the School Board would have a future enrollment agreement.
At that time, Fairfax County chose to conduct a major renovation of TJHSST, to the tune of $88.9 million. With the renovation, Fairfax is expecting Loudoun and other participating counties to help pay. Loudoun was told it would pay $50,000 per student, at an average of 157 students, bringing Loudoun's total cost in the venture to just shy of $8 million.
Jeff Morse (Dulles) was happy to continue the relationship, but acknowledged there is work to be done.
“I am excited that our students will have the opportunity to look at all the opportunities in education outside of the regular system,” Morse said. “Looking forward, we still need to continue to pursue our version of the Thomas Jefferson School here in Loudoun and I certainly hope the school board will continue to support that effort.”
Alanna Dvorak contributed to this report.