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Loudoun School Board enters contract with Jefferson

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.


The per pupil difference including transportation is closer to $6,000.  There are approximately 200 LCPS schools in any given year.  That means ultimately $1.2 million dollars a year is going to fairfax county that could be spent in county to improve our programs here.  What was the rationalization of that from a school board that pinches pennies so much when it comes to teacher salaries and benefits?

What about one of the smaller schools becoming like a TJ in Loudoun? Since we’re paying to keep them open at a loss, we could save on the money we send to Fairfax(and busing the kids). I know, that makes too much sense, something our elected leaders seem to lose once in office.

Da taxpayer pays cause of the statue that says you cannot charge for education and that includes the busing that goes on. Statue should be changed and the parents of the TJHS should get to pay the additional cost to attend that school. Do you think the number of applicants from Loudoun would diminish if that had to pick up the costs? To be equitable to the other students do we give them a 2 thousand dollar voucher to use at their own discretion? These additional fees should end with the class that started this year, when they graduate no more students from Loudoun get additional taxpayer dollars spent on them in another county. If our best students stay here won’t our school systems achievement metrics increase overall? Just food for thought.

Does the per student cost include transportation? Perhaps if Loudoun shutdown some of the smaller schools, they could afford the increase. I wonder who will pay the extra cost?

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