Loudoun County Public Schools Interim Superintendent Scott Ziegler presented the school system’s $1.497 billion proposed fiscal year 2022 budget to the Loudoun County School Board during a virtual meeting Thursday night.
According to board documents, the proposed budget represents a $187.5 million — or 14.3 percent — increase over the FY21 adopted budget. That budget, initially $1.369 billion, was reduced to $1.309 billion when the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors placed $60 million in reserve in April.
“What makes this budget unique this year is the fact that … the county is including the $60 million that was placed in reserve last year in their base funding for LCPS,” said Sharon Willoughby, the school system’s assistant superintendent for business and financial services.
In a prepared statement, Ziegler said this year’s budget will prioritize support for “students whose formal education has been interrupted by life-challenging circumstances.” Such areas of priority will include expanded availability of online instruction options, expansion of the school system’s summer school recovery program, and accommodation for anticipated growth in enrollment.
“The proposed FY22 budget reflects current critical needs to enhance support for all students, and looks past the pandemic to sustain the long track record of investment that allows LCPS to provide deeper learning experiences that empower students to make meaningful contributions to the world,” the interim superintendent added.
Senior staff project an enrollment of 87,619 students next year, more than a 9.8 percent increase from the FY21 enrollment of 81,504 — which, likely due to the COVID-19 health crisis, was 4,251 students less than the FY21 projected enrollment. The school system’s English Learner population and students with disabilities population are expected to grow by 6 percent and 3.5 percent, respectively. Projected enrollment growth will account for roughly $29.8 million in proposed budget increases.
LCPS expects 12,813.6 full-time employees on next year’s payroll, a 4.9 percent increase over the 587.5 employees accounted for in the original FY21 adopted budget. These additions will include 239 positions funded in the revised FY21 budget as well as 348.5 new positions.
Ziegler proposed a net increase of $77.2 million related to employee salaries and benefits, including a step increase to all eligible employees and a 3.5 percent market adjustment to all salary scales, hourly standardized rates and stipends. The draft budget also includes a 2 percent increase to health insurance premiums and a one-time payment to employees on the top step of their respective salary scales.
The proposed budget allots $25.5 million for enhancements and reallocations, barely less than the $25.6 million allotted for FY21. According to LCPS, the establishment of an Alternative School to support those students that Ziegler said had suffered interruptions to their education due to “life-challenging circumstances” would be included in these changes.
Other enhancements and reallocations include: 40 additional staffers to expand the distance learning framework of the school system’s Virtual Loudoun online education program; the expansion of the summer school recovery program for students of all ages, including transportation costs; the purchase of an enhanced bus routing system; enhanced staffing standards for safety and security positions; and the addition of other support staffers.
Ziegler’s proposed budget would request an increase of $101.6 million in the county transfer — an 11. 5 percent increase over the fiscal 21 recommendation — while the rest of the school system’s projected revenue would stem from “an anticipated increase in state funding,” according to LCPS officials. Between a $7.9 million deficit and a $5 million surplus may occur, depending on fiscal guidance provided by the Board of Supervisors to Loudoun County Administrator Tim Hemstreet.
The Loudoun County School Board plans to hold several budget work sessions, with the first scheduled for Jan. 12 at 4 p.m. A public hearing will occur during the budget session scheduled for Jan. 26, as well as during the board’s special Feb. 2 meeting, when board members are expected to adopt the budget.More information on the proposed FY22 budget is available at bit.ly/3hUDAxz.