The new Loudoun County School Board got off to a good start last week by expanding the agreement between Loudoun County Public Schools and the acclaimed Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria.
The board voted unanimously – with the exception of Atoosa Reaser's abstention because she has a child at TJ – to not only continue the partnership with the nationally lauded school, but to also resume transportation services for the local students who are accepted and to remove a cap on how many Loudoun students can attend.
"If our students, our children, have access to the No. 1 school in the country, why not?" said freshman board member Harris Mahedavi (Ashburn District).
In affirming the agreement, the board is putting the county's most-skilled students first and not, as several previous board members did, flaunting misplaced county pride and a narrow-minded focus on dollar and cents.
Last year's board withdrew transportation for local students attending TJ and imposed a cap of 50 local students. Supporters of that imposition argued that we shouldn't be sending money to Fairfax County Public Schools now that the Academies of Loudoun is up and running.
The Academies is no doubt a milestone for LCPS, and we suspect it will only get stronger each year. But it's not TJ, and local students and their parents should have every option they crave when it comes to their education.
Further, as veteran School Board member and TJ supporter Jeff Morse (Dulles) has stated, limiting Loudouners' enrollment at TJ will only exacerbate the admissions problem at the Academies, leaving more students unchallenged and unstimulated.
As for the financial aspect, a few million a year is a small price to pay within a system-wide budget of more than $1.3 billion. It's an investment few can argue will pay off for these Loudoun-grown scholars.
We hope last week's action from the School Board is a sign members will focus on the big picture and keep our children's education their top priority.