School Board Meeting Nov. 9, 2021

Members of the Loudoun County School Board listen to a presentation during Tuesday’s public meeting.

The Loudoun County School Board passed a measure on Tuesday allowing the school district’s legislative consultants in Richmond to advocate for the preservation of current levels of state funding on behalf of LCPS for the 2022 fiscal year, despite a decline in Loudoun’s student enrollment.

The “harmless enrollment funding” — through which state legislators maintain existing levels of funding for school districts despite a drop in student enrollment — measure was added to LCPS’ 2022 legislative program. The Virginia Department of Education uses enrollment figures to calculate recommended quantities school division funding, according to the policy’s language.

LCPS Chief Operations Officer Kevin Lewis said lawmakers in the Virginia General Assembly then allocate state funds for school districts based on those recommendations by the VDOE. School systems across the Commonwealth experienced declines in enrollment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the language in the funding policy item.

LCPS Chief Financial Officer Sharon Willoughby told board members that the school district “had a net loss in our revenue compared to our budget” for fiscal year 2022. The total revenue deficit amounted to $17 million, she said, which is currently offset by about $10 million in harmless funding.

“I would support it based on the calculations that are in progress now, but nothing beyond that,” Dulles District member Jeff Morse said. “I cannot imagine that the state would retroactively reduce funding that they are providing to the divisions.”

Blue Ridge District representative Ian Serotkin put forth an amendment limiting the harmless funding model to the 2022 fiscal year, which was seconded by Catoctin District member John Beatty.

But Willoughby said that there were such scenarios in which the state retroactively adjusts funding for school districts — they are typically called “caboose years.” A common example takes place when lottery revenues are higher than the state anticipated, and the General Assembly then adjusts its school budget figures accordingly, she said.

Sheridan countered Serotkin’s amendment, saying the legislative agenda is by design already a one-year program. Serotkin’s amendment to specify the harmless funding measure passed 6-0. The board’s vote on the initial harmless funding item then passed 5-1, with Beatty opposed.

Proposal to change rules on public comments

The school board also took up as an information item possible revisions to Policy 8520, which establishes rules for public comment at board meetings.

Some of the proposed language governing public comments at board meetings directs speakers to “be respectful and observe proper decorum in their statements,” as well as “refrain from obscenities, profanity or other like breaches of respect.”

For months, speakers at school board meetings have harshly criticized members for their handling of issues such as critical race theory, mask and vaccine mandates, and especially over their handling of two alleged sexual assaults that took place in Ashburn high schools during reported in May and October.

Broad Run District resident Tiffany Polifko asked board members during the public comment section on Tuesday, “Would you call me a white supremacist, a domestic terrorist, a racist, because I reject the identity politics that you use and support that wants to turn my children into commie activists?”

Raising her voice, Polifko added, “This is what you would do to children, between the mask shaming and the critical race theory and the gender ideology. It is rejected, and we are going to Loudoun-ize this country, because it doesn’t stop here.”

Two speakers suggested board members should face prison time over their management of the school district.

Another proposed change to the policy would enable the school board Chair to “warn a speaker of breaches of decorum or of these rules prior to terminating speaking privileges or taking other action” to preserve the decorum and order of a meeting.

“Inappropriately loud conversations or outbursts from those in attendance will not be tolerated and security staff will be asked to restore order,” the policy proposal reads.

After the proposal was introduced, Beatty asked LCPS division counsel Robert Falconi, “Is this all legal? … A lot of people think that [these changes are] infringing on their First Amendment rights.”

Falconi responded that “a public comment period is not required under the First Amendment or under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, or under any other law governing local government meetings.”

(3) comments

jke

Is the Loudoun County school board where Dire Straits came up with

Money for Nothing?

jke

1.6 billion dollars and they come up short. Heads need to roll along with Sharon Willoughby. Now they want to bilk the state like the year before for 10 million. A 7% decrease in students equates to 112,000,000.00 dollars not needed for classroom instruction plus if you add the reduction of the increase in student population you have an additional 48 million not needed in the classroom. That is a 160-million-dollar reduction in expenditures. Nice slush fund if they get away with it!

J Smith

I can’t blame any parent from pulling their kid from a Loudoun County School after what has gone on for the last two years:

- Sexual assaults

- Cover-up of those assaults

- Training of teachers in Critical Race Theory so that our teachers can train our children to judge each other by the color of their skin

- Eliminating advanced math courses in the name of equality, diversity, and inclusion

- Placing of pornographic books in our school libraries

- Failing to protect the dignity and privacy of our daughters and grand-daughters by opening their bathrooms and locker rooms to those born male

It’s no surprise that our Loudoun County schools, once the pride of the state and the envy of the nation, have suffered a “decline in student enrollment.” When was the last time that happened? Never?

I have a few suggestions:

1) Let’s enact School Choice in Virginia. Let parents take their taxpayer-funded education dollars to the education providers of their choice, public, private, or home school. I’m betting that the school board would be a whole lot more attentive to parents if School Choice were enacted in Virginia.

2) School Board, stop spending so much time discussing how to “limit public comment.” Start spending your time trying to solve real problems. If the parents are enraged, they have every right to be. See above. It is extremely self-serving of you to try and limit public comment.

3) Actually, if you, school board members, really cared about the students of Loudoun County, you would resign. Why? Because the parents of Loudoun County don’t trust you. And they have good reason. In the end, your continued presence on the board is hurting the students that you say you care so much about.

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