Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) Superintendent Eric Williams presented his proposed Fiscal Year 2018 Budget to the School Board on Jan. 12. The proposed budget represents an increase of $93.6 million (9.1 percent) from the current budget, raising annual spending from $1.03 billion to $1.124 billion.
“Our Vision 20/20 strategic plan reflects our aspirations. It reflects how we want to do an even better job empowering our students to make meaningful contributions to the world,” Williams said in a statement. “This budget directly relates to the goals and actions of our Vision 20/20 strategic plan.”
Williams cited maintaining class sizes, increasing teacher compensation, expanding full-day kindergarten and enhancing mental health services for high school students as examples directly related to the Vision 20/20 strategic plan.
“We’ve made some significant reallocations that, when combined with limited additional resources, allow our students to achieve even more,” he said.
Williams said the proposed budget again answers the question “what might we do differently?”
Increases relating to enrollment growth total $32.3 million, including $25.8 million for 308 new positions and $6.5 million of operating and maintenance expenses. LCPS needs these funds simply to maintain current class sizes and services for students. LCPS continues to experience more student growth than any other Virginia school division with 2,957 additional students expected in August, Williams said.
The proposed budget funds 11,105.8 employees. This reflects an increase of 459.4 employees (4.3 percent) over the current budget, which funds 10,646.4 employees, Williams said.
The proposal includes $38.7 million for increases relating to salaries and benefits. This funding would provide:
- salary step increases
- a one-time payment to employees not eligible for a step increase
- increase the competitiveness of the teacher salary schedule
- extension of bus driver hours and improved pay for bus drivers
- and continued review of the competitiveness of compensation of non-teaching positions, leading to compensation adjustments for some positions reviewed. The Fiscal Year 2018 review would emphasize the lowest-paid positions, such as custodian, cafeteria worker and teacher assistant.
In terms of benefits, the proposed budget includes $1.4 million to pay for the employer portion of a 2 percent health insurance premium increase, as well as $7.6 million for state-mandated contributions to the employee retirement system.
Expenditures relating to enhancements include $8.9 million to expand full-day kindergarten to create capacity for 82 percent of kindergarten students to attend full-day kindergarten. Enhancements also include $4.3 million to improve standards for staffing schools, primarily for mental health services for high school students.
The proposed budget provides $2.9 million to partially restore funds cut from line items in previous years due to funding limitations. This includes a $2 million partial to funds textbooks and digital resources, as well as the addition of three middle school deans. This would return staffing to one dean per grade level in each middle school, Williams said.
The proposed operating budget also includes $10 million of other increases relating to Operations and Maintenance, including funds for 36 buses, replacement computers, replacement security radios, and replacement security cameras.
The proposed budget would also take the following steps:
- Increases personalization of learning with digital resources and expanded use of measures to assess growth in student learning
- Enhances literacy instruction for special needs students through specialized reading instruction for students and professional development for staff
- Reallocates funds to expand mental health services for high school students by creating unified support teams comprised of psychologists, social workers, school counselors and student assistance specialists
- Expands the provision of additional resources to schools to better meet the needs of socioeconomically disadvantaged students, English language learners, and special education students.
If fully funded, the Superintendent’s Proposed Fiscal Year 2018 Budget would result in an average cost per pupil of $13,824. Adjusted for inflation, the cost per pupil is 7.3 percent ($930) lower than the 2008-2009 school year. In comparison with neighboring school divisions, LCPS would remain near the bottom in per pupil expenditures, Williams said.
Based on the Governor’s Introduced Budget, the Superintendent’s Proposed Fiscal Year 2018 Budget assumes an increase of $23.2 million, most of which is related to rising enrollment.
The proposed budget reflects a recommended increase in the County transfer to the schools of $64.5 million, an increase of 9.3 percent.
A gap exists between the county transfer recommended by the superintendent and the county transfer reflected in the fiscal guidance provided by the Board of Supervisors to the county administrator. Adjusting for the expenditure and revenue information included in the proposed budget, the gap relating to the anticipated County transfer is $6.3 million to $11.3 million. This gap is significantly smaller than the comparable gap in Jan. 2015, when the School Board’s requested County transfer was fully funded by the Board of Supervisors, Williams said.
The School Board will hold two public hearings about the budget at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 26 and Jan. 31, at 21000 Education Court in Ashburn, according to the LCPS calendar.