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Superintendent Williams proposes cuts for budget reconciliation

Loudoun County Public Schools Superintendent Eric Williams on Tuesday night presented his budget reconciliation framework for the 2018 fiscal year.

The reconciliation follows the adoption of a $2.5 billion county budget by the Board of Supervisors earlier this month. The spending plan lowers the county tax rate by two cents but leave a $5.5 million shortfall in the school system's adopted budget. The School Board will now find a way to trim the $5.5 million for the coming year's budget.

The general recommended reductions Williams set forth includes cuts to things like the design and planning of new campuses near Metro—essentially consultation with architects on a new style of campus in relation to Metro construction and new Metro sites. That would be a reduction of $250,000.

Other items include reductions for overcrowded middle schools ($300,000) and a cut to high school summer school, where $150,000 can be cut without altering the level of summer school services.

Then there were cuts for visitor management system upgrades ($150,000), safety and security server upgrades ($100,000) and radio and camera replacements ($450,000 for radios and $1.7 million for cameras).

There was also a $120,600 cut to the 2 percent increase in co-curricular stipends, something Williams said school principals had expressed disappointment over having been included in recommended reductions.

Additionally, there were the maintenance reductions and bus cost cuts, including cuts for a new fleet of 44 buses, which accounted for $5,365,000 of recommended reductions.

When the Board of Supervisors adopted the county's $2.5 billion budget, the School Board feared that expansion of full-day kindergarten would be one of the first things to go.

However, in Williams’ itemized list of recommended reductions, full-day kindergarten was not included. Reducing expansion of full-day kindergarten was listed as a possible reduction, but the items on his recommended reductions list alone added up to nearly $10.8 million toward reconciliation.

“A possible reduction relates to full-day kindergarten. There was a question during the budget process regarding what the cost would be if we implemented a plan to provide full day kindergarten to 75 percent of our kindergarten students [instead of 82 percent], and that would result in a reduction of approximately $2.5 million. So that is set forth as a possible reduction,” Williams said.

Expanding full-day kindergarten in Loudoun County to only 75 percent of kindergarten students this year can save the school system $2.5 million, but as Ashburn District representative Eric Hornberger said in response to William’s proposed framework: “I didn’t think we could make it without reducing full day kindergarten.”

Referencing Ashburn and western Loudoun specifically as areas that would be affected by the reduction, Hornberger said that “those of us who represent those areas I’m sure are pleased that there are other ways to come up with this.”

Currently, Loudoun is one of the few counties in the state that doesn’t have universal full-day kindergarten. For the last couple years, Williams and the School Board have tried to expand full-day kindergarten in the budget without cutting elsewhere or raising class sizes. Due to a constantly rising student population and lack of resources for the classrooms, teachers and teacher aides needed to offer full-day kindergarten, priority has been given to students who qualify for free or reduced lunches, special education students and English language learners. Once those students are registered for the year, any remaining seats are filled by lottery.

The School Board has a work session scheduled for Thursday specifically for budget reconciliation. The board will then move on the reductions during their next meeting.

Comments


Before SGP goes off and rants more about overpaid teachers who are getting ridiculously large raises, one might want to actually check the real numbers.  So many teachers will see n raises or minimal raises.  some might be luck enough to get $10 more a week.  SGP thinks these teachers are taking advantage of the system.  Of course, SGP attacks everything related to the schools without ever having complete facts.


The BOS specifically mentioned the large raises, despite low attrition, as one reason why it reduced the exorbitant request from LCSB. Yet it appears those 5%+ raises were not included for reduction. Could that be because 4 of the 9 school board members directly benefit from receiving such large raises via their LCPS spouses?

Recall that in FY 16, LCOS so badly estimated their budget, they had $34.5M less in costs than projected. This year’s budget used the FY16 as a base and added on. Does anyone want to bet there won’t be $10M’s leftover in FY17 and FY18 as well?


To me, there is one key sentence in this article: 

“a cut to high school summer school, where $150,000 can be cut without altering the level of summer school services”

That says it all.  We could have cut $150K from the budget without altering the level of service, but we chose not to do so until you made us do it.

That $150K is the combined tax bill of how many Loudoun homeowners?  Is it much in the overall budget—no.  But it speaks volumes about the attitude from Williams—who is clearly adopting the same budgeting tactic that Hatrick did…highball your opening bid and whatever you “settle” for is still likely to be more than you need.  Both Williams and Hatrick treat the process like it is a labor negotiation but the money isn’t coming from Ford or GM…it’s coming from us. 

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