Loudoun County's Board of Supervisors agreed during a budget work session Thursday night to allocate an additional $1.6 million to Loudoun County Public Schools for the school system's fiscal 2015 budget. That amount is the most supervisors can appropriate without raising taxes for the average county homeowner.
The Board of Supervisors appears unlikely to fund anything beyond what was agreed to, meaning the School Board is left with a more than $35 million funding shortfall between its adopted fiscal 2015 budget and the allocation from the county.
Voting against the proposal to increase the school system's funding were Supervisors Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling), Suzanne Volpe (R-Algonkian) and Supervisor Janet Clarke (R-Blue Ridge). Supervisor Ken Reid (R-Leesburg), who has expressed support for increasing the LCPS allocation, was absent from the meeting.
Next year's LCPS spending plan totals $950 million, a more than $105 million enhancement from fiscal 2014.
Even without an increase to the county's property tax rate, the school system will receive a nearly $70 million funding boost in fiscal 2015 compared to the current year because of expanding revenues, supervisors have repeatedly highlighted.
“The Board of Supervisors continues to prioritize Loudoun’s public schools within the budget, evidenced by the 8.5 percent growth in local tax funding to LCPS while local tax funding to the general county government is only increasing by 2.1 percent,” board Chairman Scott York (R-At Large) said in a prepared statement Friday.
Supervisors went so far as to lay out how the School Board could distribute the $68.3 million LCPS increase in line with their stated priorities. In a county press release issued Friday, supervisors expressed support for the following enhancements within the school system's budget:
-$14.6 million for compensation increases. $12 million, a 3 percent increase (including 1 percent for the Virginia Retirement System, or VRS), was provided in FY 14.
-$7.1 million to fully fund requested class size reductions.
-$23.7 million for additional student population of 2,375 and the opening of three new schools. This is $5 million in addition to the $17.5 million that was allocated in fiscal 14 to accommodate more than 2,500 new students and open two new schools.
-$5 million for technology initiatives with an emphasis on upgrading network infrastructure and refreshing computers.
-$1.6 million to fully fund the School Board’s new initiatives.
-$10.3 million for mandatory VRS contributions including a 1 percent increase to employees to cover coinciding contribution increase.
-$6.3 million for the projected 6 percent increase in healthcare costs.
-$100,000 for staff assistance for the School Board, similar to the legislative aides members of the Board of Supervisors have.
“New funding for LCPS should be prioritized to go where it’s needed most – for the teachers and in the classroom,” Vice Chairman Shawn Williams (R-Broad Run) said. “The funding amount proposed tonight, an 8.5 percent increase over last year’s budget, will do just that.”
The Board of Supervisors are scheduled to formally adopt the county's fiscal 2015 budget and school funding April 2.