The Loudoun County School Board continued painstakingly crunching numbers late into the night April 22 in an attempt to make up a $38 million funding shortfall ultimately agreeing on a reconciled budget just after midnight.
Just 24 hours earlier, the board was faced with a record number of speakers – 181 – who pleaded with them to keep four western Loudoun schools open.
The community's effort was rewarded Tuesday when School Board members removed Aldie, Hillsboro, Hamilton and Lincoln elementary schools off of the budget cut list.
Additionally, after hearing public comments on several occasions, the School Board also removed the following from its cut list: family life teachers, bus service to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology and freshman sports.
Upon approving the budget, there was a more than $300,000 gap still remaining, but the School Board was comfortable leaving the remaining amount to senior staff to finish balancing.
“I know staff has been very helpful with answering questions and trying to figure our way out of this situation. It is not easy. There is a lot of things up here,” Chairman Eric Hornberger (Ashburn) said. “Almost everything up here is going to affect somebody pretty significantly. We were able to move forward on some things, but it comes as a great cost. But I think this is generally the right direction to go.”
The removal of the four schools, which has been a controversial topic over the last several weeks, was the first item removed from the cut list.
Jennifer Bergel (Catoctin) was the first to speak on removing the schools from the list. Bergel had also motioned to have the four schools lumped back together earlier in the evening.
“I am so thankful and proud of our local community in Loudoun because they did what needed to be done,” Bergel said. “The four schools worked together and showed their community spirit.”
While a majority of the School Board members approved the motion, many of them noted that there is a trade off and noted the apparent divide between eastern and western Loudoun.
Jeff Morse (Dulles) who voted to save the schools, mentioned the divide in his remarks, expressing frustration with the 'us against them' mentality between the two sides.
“The east vs. west [divide], we like to pretend isn't really there, but it really is there,” Morse said. “I would like the people from the west to take a look at the bond referendum for schools on the last ballot. Compare the numbers for western Loudoun in support of building schools. Those schools are in my district and were badly needed, but a lot of your precincts were less than 50 percent of the vote. In other words if it had been left up to you we wouldn't have schools in eastern Loudoun.
“We have 1,200 kids in a 850 capacity school, but western Loudoun didn't want a new school,” Morse added. “You ought to be pretty happy that isn't my criteria for closing the schools. Because I would. I am so angry and frustrated with this diverse perspective among the community.”
The Family Life Education Teachers were also taken off the cut list Tuesday.
Many of the School Board members remarked how great it was to hear from some of the FLE teachers and learn how important they are to the children's development.
Debbie Rose (Algonkian) mentioned how good the teachers are at addressing sensitive subjects with their respective students.
“You quickly understand they are really good about talking to kids about sensitive subjects and they have built a repertoire with the kids that is clear,” Rose said. “My kids were really cognizant about the program and my daughter was so nervous that there might be a boy teacher that teaches her this stuff. You immediately realize that this is really critical information and it needs to be delivered in a very special way.
“The fact [these teachers] are trained so well to do that and be there as a resource as the kids get older is really wonderful,” Rose said.
Final Cut List
Note: Jobs represent full time positions
Eliminate the one-to-one expansion - $616,000
Increase Teaching load of HS department chairs - $840,000 - 11.2 jobs
Increase teaching load of MS SALTs - $900,000 - 12 jobs
Eliminate Visitor Management System - $400,000
Eliminate reimbursement for teacher devices - $1,500,000
Deans Hornberger Framework - $1,434,500 - 19 jobs
Admin Intern Hornberger Framework - $335,250 - 4.5 jobs
Eliminate elementary foreign language immersion program - $137,000 - 3 jobs
Reduce K-12 Insight - $180,000
Eliminate Summer School (excluding revenue and ESY) - $1,255,000 - Replace SS revenue with $50 increase to Athletic fees revenue
Eliminate facilities usage master plan - $600,000
GIS Transportation position (new position) - $67,200 - 1 job
Psychologist (new position) - $86,450 - 1 job
Ed Diagnostician (new position) - $86,450 - 1 job
Social Worker (new position) - $91,850 - 1 job
Substance Abuse Prevention Specialist (new position) - $81,700 - 1 job
Speech Pathologist (new position) - $83,100 - 1 job
Transition Specialist (new position) - $112,200 - 1 job
Occupational Therapist (new position) - $83,100 - 1 job
Public Information Secretary (new position) - $67,200 - 1 job
Reduce Legal fees in the Superintendent's Office - $30,000
Reduce Web developer (new position) - $78,550 - 1 job
Remove Gifted Education Specialist (new position) - $112,200 - 1 job
Eliminate the FLES and SAMS program - $2,461,800 - 33 jobs
Eliminate high school after school activity buses - $81,000
Library Assts Hornberger Framework - $142,800 - 4 jobs
Eliminate full-day Kindergarten expansion - $895,854 - 14 jobs
Technology Assistants Hornberger Framework - $999,600 - 28 jobs
Eliminate all new bus driver positions (new positions) - $587,700 - 18 jobs
Accounting Specialist - Facilities (new position) - $78,700 - 1 job
Environmental Specialist (new position) - $63,800 - 1 job
Civil Engineering Coordinator (new position) - $118,600) - 1 job
Telecommunication Analyst (new position) - $78,800 - 1 job
Resource Nurse (new position) - $64,600 - 1 job
Eliminate math facilitator positions - $596,800 - 8 jobs
Eliminate high school deans - $149,200 - 2 jobs
Consolidate Kindergarten Office with Elementary Education Office - $97,300 - 0.5 job
Eliminate Retirement and Disability Specialist (new position) - $67,800 - 1 job
30 rep buses, 25 large SE buses and 11 small SE buses - fill with computers - $7,073,600
Change the long term substitute rate $154 - $1,500,000
Delay salary schedule implementation til Nov 1 - $5,720,000
Eliminate ELL Assts and Add ELL Teachers - $2,386,000 - 93.6 jobs
Remove online courses - $352,000
Staff Development - $1,078,058
AV Technician (new position) $40,500 - 1 job
Computer Technician (new position) - $136,250 - 2 jobs
Network Specialist (new position) - $67,200 - 1 job
Technical Writer (new position) - $74,600 - 1 job
Systems Specialist (new position) - $67,200 - 1 job
Systems Engineer (new position) - $78,550 - 1 job
Software Engineer (new position) - $78,500 - 1 job
AP for Rock Ridge HS (new position) - $130,000 - 1 job
Planning Architectural and Engineering - $300,000
Support Services automated door operator - $209,000
Maintenance Workers (new positions) - $114,900 - 2 jobs
Vehicles for maintenance worker reduction (2 4X4 vehicles) - $70,000
3 Dump Trucks - $435,000
2 Utility Body Service Trucks with Plow - $100,000
Pupil Services O&M - $63,300
DTS O&M - $340,000
High School Education O&M - $200,000
Music O&M - $50,000
Technology Resource - $50,000
Eliminate Secretary l-Pupil Services - $51,300 - 1 job
Staffing Changes to Hillsboro - $122,290 - 2.5 jobs
Reduce 208 day secretaries to 198 days - $144,000
Remainder of SOF Vehicles - $700,000