When Loudoun County Public Schools Superintendent Edgar Hatrick and Assistant Superintendent for Business and Financial Services Leigh Burden forecast a dark and difficult budget cycle last November, nobody expected it to be this painful.
School Board members left their first reconciliation work session and public hearing April 1 at Farmwell Station Middle School with a “gut-wrenching” feeling in the pit of their stomachs after assembling a possible cut list for their budget.
In an effort to prepare for the reconciliation process that will begin after the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors set the tax rate Wednesday night, the School Board wanted to get started with a preliminary list of possible cuts to make up for the close to $38 million shortfall between the two sides.
It is apparent that should the Board of Supervisors handcuff the School Board with funding as expected, there's going to be a large amount of back lash from the public.
At this point, nothing is certain for the chopping block, but the School Board assembled a list of possible programs to cut or reduce costs for the county.
On the School Board's list as possible cuts is just about every new initiative they had put into its budget. The 1-to-1 initiative pilot program and Technology Reimbursement Plan are both on the chopping block.
A big item that will surely cause some heartache as a possible cut is the closing of four small western Loudoun schools of Hillsboro, Aldie, Hamilton and Lincoln elementary schools. Closing those four schools would save $2 million.
Other difficult cuts will be freshman sports, eliminating summer school, removing middle school deans, the elimination of 14 assistant athletic directors and several more.
The School Board also took a straw vote and advised staff to halt all plans for the Music Theater Academy Magnet at Heritage High School.
In all, 35 items are currently on the list with more likely to be added. The 35 items or programs total $41,560,996 and the removal of 250 jobs.
At the end of the work session, School Board members were visibly angry and distraught at what they had just had to do.
They told everyone they had 24 hours to do something about it, urging all to contact their respective supervisors and attend the Board of Supervisors meeting Wednesday night, where supervisors will approve the county tax rate. The Loudoun Education Association will be having a rally outside the Loudoun County Government Center before the Board of Supervisors meeting starts at 4 p.m.
The School Board will also meet Wednesday for a work session at 6:30 p.m. at the School Administration Building. There will be no public comment period.
This is a developing story.