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Mass majority at public hearings: ‘Fully fund Loudoun’s schools’

Supporters of Loudoun County Public Schools came out in droves Feb. 26 for a Board of Supervisors public hearing on the county budget. Many urged the all-Republican board to fully fund the LCPS adopted fiscal 2015 budget. Times-Mirror Photo/Jonathan Taylor
If members of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors choose to follow the wishes and pleas of the massive majority who addressed them during public hearings last week, the county's tax rate will be increased next year and Loudoun County Public Schools will receive full funding for its adopted fiscal 2015 budget.

More than 100 local residents appeared before the all-Republican Board of Supervisors Feb. 26 and March 1 in support of LCPS, with several speakers flatly saying they'll be happy to pay higher taxes if it means the local school system's budget is fully funded.

A minute fraction of residents who spoke opposed granting LCPS its full budget.

“For the past few years the budget has been severely underfunded and it is slowly eroding the school system,” said Blossom Martin, a local mother of two, during the evening Feb. 26 session. “There has been much public support for fully funding the School Board's budget this year. And yet, I hear time and again that members of your board are preemptively concluding that you will not fund the budget as it stands.”

In front of a standing room-only crowd, Martin continued, “This is against the will and wishes of many of your constituents and citizens of this county.”

Devin MacGoy, the sophomore class president at Potomac Falls High School in Sterling, offered a student's perspective to the supervisors.

“It was Benjamin Franklin who said, 'An investment in knowledge pays the best interest,'” MacGoy said. “And so I stand before you tonight to encourage you to fully fund Loudoun County Public Schools.”

Scott Copeland, a Leesburg father, pressed the board to fund the entirety the school system's budget and “turn Loudoun County back into the premier school district in America.” Copeland specifically mentioned what he sees as his son's inadequate access to the latest educational technology.

“I'm not a wealthy man, and I do pay my mortgage with two jobs. I always have money, though, for things that matter to me, and that's my son,” he said. “And I have no problem paying more taxes so that the education for him and all the others can be so much better here.”

The Board of Supervisors is expected to finalize the fiscal 2015 budget the first week of April.

In early February, LCPS adopted a $950 million fiscal 2015 budget. The $950 million mark leaves a roughly $40 million budget gap between school system's budget the county's proposed budget at an equalized tax rate for the coming fiscal year.

While the supervisors have increased funding for the county's schools in recent years, school advocates say that allocation hasn't kept pace with student growth, increased needs for technology and a competitive pay scale for teacher.

LCPS is expected to welcome more than 2,300 new students and open three new schools next year.

As noted by one of the speakers, Martin, Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chairman Scott York (R-At Large) told School Board members in mid-February the Board of Supervisors won't grant full funding to the LCPS.

Supervisor Shawn Williams (R-Broad Run), the board's vice chair, has consistently responded in recent week to notions that his board is slashing education. Williams opined that facts of the budget “often get lost in this passionate discussion.”

“This board has properly funded education since they have been in office accommodating for additional growth, new school construction and giving raises for teachers,” Williams noted on his Facebook page. “This year, the county administrator’s budget proposal includes an 8 percent, or $70 million increase, in a year with 3.4 percent enrollment growth.”

Supervisors will meet for budget worksessions March 6 at 6 p.m. and March 8 at 9 a.m. Members of the School Board will be on hand at the March 8 session to discuss the LCPS spending plan.

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do you have any peer review documents which show an increased ROI or increased grades for students who learn from promethean boards rather than smartboards? Or whiteboards/chalkboards for that matter?

Who’s going to have more time on their hands to turn out in droves on a weeknight?

Stay-at-home moms (i.e. the takers), who live nearby have nothing better to do with their time?

Or the working class who are working long hours commuting to Fairfax and DC who actually pay for the schools?

I understand your metaphor, studio17, but I ‘m not familiar with the irresponsibility you’re referencing.  A quick search seems to indicate that Promethean boards, and all that comes with them, are intended for use in teaching where Smartboards are marketed more broadly.  It may be the most forward-thinking thing the School Board has done.  The chalkboard/lecture model works great for “training”, but the world is changing too fast for that industrial model of mass-training to work anymore. 

Also, be careful applying market principles to education.  Merit-based pay is a tempting idea, but at the primary-secondary level, the service the customer needs, is not the service the customer necessarily wants.  You will find, in your academic career, that the teachers you feared most, and who doled out the fewest A’s and B’s, and had the most students drop out of the class, were the ones who delivered the best product: a better version of you.  There’s a reason why we try to shelter education from market forces.

Oh come on!! The school system hasn’t proven itself to be faithful with the money that it has already been given, courtesy of us taxpayers. There are such principles as being trusted with a little before being given a lot. For example, pocket money which parents give to their kids. You don’t send a 7 year old to school with $50 in his pocket, right? But as you teach the child to be responsible, and as the child demonstrates that responsibility, you would eventually trust him to carry $50 in his wallet in high school. THE SAME PRINCIPLE APPLIES WITH THE SCHOOL BOARD BUDGET. When was the last public audit?

What are the technical justifications for buying Promethean boards rather than regular Smart boards? As a student myself, I will say that my grades do not show a significant increase from the use of promethean boards. In fact, I am now learning more from chalkboards and lectures than I did from fancy technology. Once again, I will recommend for the teachers pay to be merit based. Performance is one of the greatest incentives. Just try it and see what it does. You’ll get the better teachers at lower prices.

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