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    School Board reconciles LCPS budget for FY14

    The Loudoun County Public Schools budget process is over for this year, after the School Board passed the superintendent's recommended reconciliation – with a few amendments.

    The School Board passed the $843.67 million reconciled operating budget for fiscal 2014 at a special meeting April 29 in Ashburn. The board was required to cut more than $16 million after a reduced allocation of tax spending from the Loudoun Board of Supervisors.

    While the School Board passed the budget, they did so begrudgingly, upset that they were limited to a 2.5 percent spending increase despite a 3.8 percent enrollment increase and equally peeved at what they felt was a lack a community support for the schools.

    “Over this boundary decision we have upwards of 450 speakers. We had 34 speakers in front of the Board of Supervisors to speak on behalf of our budget. I think that's horrible,” Brenda Sheridan (Sterling) said at the April 23 School Board meeting. “I'm angry with the Board of Supervisors but I'm asking the Loudoun County community where were you?”

    Sheridan also called out the Board of Supervisors, including Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling) and Scott York (R-At large).

    “Mr. Delgaudio and Chairman York, you live in Sterling and claim to represent Sterling. Well, shame on you, because you did not,” Sheridan said.

    While the School Board largely kept Superintendent Edgar Hatrick's recommendations, they made a few modifications, including re-allocating money for the 10 new kindergarten positions to bring full-time kindergarten teachers to Title I (low-income) schools.

    “These are our neediest students and I support getting them what they need to be successful in the classroom,” Sheridan said.

    All of the four Title I schools lie at least partly in Sheridan's Sterling District.

    To support the full-day kindergarten program, the board cut an additional $550,000 for special transportation, which includes field trips and athletic transport. In total they cut nearly $1.6 million from special transportation.

    Additionally, the board voted to reinstate 16.5 full-time equivalency positions cut by Hatrick in his recommended plan. This includes 10 English Language Learners teaching assistants. To support this motion, the board instead cut $631,232 from the School Support Services Department, which includes construction, food services and safety.

    Debbie Rose (Algonkian) proposed to end membership in the National School Board Association and move the $9,300 membership fee to the School Support Services Department. The measure passed 7-2, with Thomas Reed (At-large) and Jennifer Bergel (Catoctin) opposed.

    While the School Board declined Hatrick's recommendation to reduce the Middleburg and Hillsboro elementary school staffing by having the two small schools share a technology assistant and clinic assistant, the two facilities were essentially put on notice.

    “The time has come to look at this issue,” Hatrick said. “Hillsboro and Middleburg each have less than 60 students enrolled in grades K through five. We're going to reach a point where a school is no longer financially viable or instructionally [sic] viable.”

    Jeff Morse (Dulles) echoed Hatrick's statement and hopes the schools will find some sort of a charter model in order to keep themselves open.

    “I reluctantly support keeping staff there,” Morse said. “I do not support keeping these schools open.”

    Amid fears that transportation cuts would prevent athletic teams from traveling to competition, Bill Fox (Leesburg) proposed a contentious motion to eliminate freshman sports.

    “In the future, if it comes to choosing between educational programs and something like freshman sports, yeah, I'm going to pick educational programs every time,” Fox said.

    The measure was defeated 5-4, with Fox, Morse, Sheridan and Turgeon supporting it.

    Parents of Loudoun, your children will get the education that YOU pay for.  The BOS and school Board have made EQUAL cuts to this budget and last year’s budget, for a total of 56 million dollars over 2 years.  Do you even notice the change in your tax rates?

    Next year the BOS has its eyes on closing down all six elementary schools in western Loudoun, thus destroying community education throughout western Loudoun. The hyper-conservative BOS would love to get charter schools started in some of these communities, because the staff funding in these building could be cut at-will.

    Loudoun parents, don’t cry when your children don’t get into UVA and Tech, because an LCPS diploma will not be valued like it once was!  The BOS is counting on all your energy going into fighting over attendance zones, while they cut deeper and deeper.

    Another reason for lack of trust from this board, why keep two schools open with less than 60 people? Are you kidding me….That’s a no brainer. So Instead, we’ll cut freshman sports which probably affects 500+ students(1000+ parents). Bill, Do you have an ounce of common sense? Close the schools and move the kids, how hard is that? You didn’t have any problem making a bold statement regarding your rationale for the new HS boundary issue…. You guys(School Board) are so out of touch with reality(and Loudoun Taxpayers).

    After the school boundary debacle, why would the Loudoun tax payers feel like speaking to a school Board that appears to be MIA? You just cost the county extra transportation money based on the new boundary issue. Perhaps transportation costs should have been a higher priority. And hopefully the rest of Loudoun and the BOS realize LCPS truly doesn’t care about costs, they’ll keep asking for more and expect it. And Brenda, didn’t you back a different plan? Perhaps it was a big lie for you to come out for Plan 11?

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