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Loudoun School Board, supervisors look ahead to budget season

Although budget season is still several months off, Loudoun County supervisors and School Board members have begun discussing what to expect for the fiscal 2019 budget in hopes of streamlining the process as much as possible.

Last April, the School Board adopted a $1.1 billion budget after cutting $5.5 million in the reconciliation process with the county. The county approved a $2.5 billion appropriations budget.

The fiscal 2018 LCPS budget responded to a 3.3 percent enrollment increase and included items like salary increases for teachers and an expansion of mental health services and full-day kindergarten.

Assistant Superintendent for Business and Financial Services E. Leigh Burden told county supervisors at a joint meeting Wednesday that LCPS expects enrollment to increase by up to 2,565 students, or 3.1 percent. This would call for an extra $41.7 million to maintain LCPS services. Enrollment projects are not yet completed and will largely be based on Sept. 30 enrollment numbers, which could change the projection, Burden said.

Salary and benefit increases are expected to cost $54.7, according to fiscal 2019 projections, which would include step increases, salary adjustments, health care and other compensation. Burden also said projections show a $10 million cost for enhancements, restorations and reallocations with increased participation in full-day kindergarten, instruction initiatives, Vision 2020 initiatives and textbooks and digital learning resources.

Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn) said that while last year’s budget reconciliation process included the smallest gap between what the school system proposed and what the county could fund, the fiscal 2019 budget cycle may prove more complicated.

The supervisors' finance committee will receive the results of a classification in compensation study on Sept. 12 that will likely require a multi-year initiative to restructure county staff salary scales.

“It looks like initial results are indicating we’re not where we need to be on the county side of governance. An initial look says that that alone could be more than the entire increase we had last year on the county side,” Buona said. “There’s gonna be a lot of pressures on both ends this time around that weren’t there last time.”

Buona also asked Superintendent Eric Williams and School Board Chairman Jeff Morse (Dulles) about potential adjustments to the capital budget. Last budget cycle saw the acceleration of school construction. Williams said it was too early to definitively say, but he did not expect there to be any surprises this budget cycle.

LCPS and county staff plan to meet monthly to keep communication as open as both departments move forward in the budget process.

Williams will present his recommended budget Jan. 9, and the School Board is expected to adopt the budget Feb. 1.

County Administrator Tim Hemstreet will present his recommended budget to the Board of Supervisors the second week of February.

The next joint Board of Supervisors and School Board meeting is scheduled for Dec. 6.

Comments


Asst Supt Burden may be THE most incompetent official in all of Loudoun.  She once claimed the major cause of rising “per pupil” expenditures was the increase in enrollment!

In that context, Burden is lying about the cost of step increases.  Senior teachers retire and junior teachers are hired.  It does not cost $19M for step increases but closer to the $11M requested a couple years back.  That is a knowingly false estimate.

There are multiple areas in which double-counting occurs.  There is a pot of money for “new schools” that have not yet opened to provide a skeleton staff.  Those “new schools” from last year are now fully counted in the per pupil costs.  So the “new schools” in stand-up mode this year are mostly covered by the portion of the budget that always covers “new schools”.  Yet Burden is once again requesting full funding of “new schools” on top of the portion of the FY18 budget that already covered this expense.

And they are asking for $10M’s to raise teacher pay, over and above step increases, when LCPS can’t even interview all of its applicants.  In the Fairfax school board race (which has a much higher cost of living), the candidates ran on raising pay to equal LCPS wages!  So we can’t interview our flood of applicants and are paying more than the more expensive neighbor, yet 4 of these school board members want to raise their spouse’s pay by 5%+.

LCPS should be provided no more than $50M in additional funding.


Expect an increase of $75-100 million in LCPS budget. The sky is falling as usual. I think getting kids to school and home safe is top priority, not all day kindergarten for all(which would add more kids to transportation issues).

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