Randall Says Loudoun Still Doesn’t Have World Class Schools

Randall Says Loudoun Still Doesn’t Have World Class Schools

School Superintendent Presents FY18 Budget to Board of Supervisors.

Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) Superintendent Eric Williams presented the School Board’s approved fiscal year 2018 budget to the county Board of Supervisors at a work session Feb. 23.  Williams has requested a nine percent increase in funding from last year’s budget, and both the School Board and the Board of Supervisors have expressed optimism ahead of the final approval for the budget in April.

Chair Phyllis Randall (D-At Large), a former mental health therapist, said she was especially appreciative of the commitment to mental health funding, considering the mental health and suicide epidemic in Loudoun.

Notwithstanding the praise, Randall called for more progress.

“I said this last year and I’ll say it again and I don’t say this to be offensive to anyone, but we talk in Loudoun all the time about having a world class school system in Loudoun County, we do not have a world class school system,” Randall said. “We have a very good system — committed teachers and great students — but I looked at the rankings and Loudoun wasn’t even in top 250 schools. We’re making progress but if we say we’re a world class school system then we won’t work to actually become one.”

“We’re going there, we’re getting there and that’s because of our students, parents, teachers and admin staff, but we’re not there yet,” she said.

Supervisors Geary Higgins (R-Catoctin) and Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn) both commended the school board and school staff in working to build an efficient budget. The two said the gap between what the school board approved and what the Board of Supervisors is projected to fund is the smallest in recent years. Buona also said the county could further reduce the gap if it receives more money from the state.

In his presentation, Williams highlighted priorities such as increases to teacher and staff salaries, expansion of full day kindergarten, increases to mental health staffing in high schools and a multi-year plan to replace and update textbooks and digital resources.

Supervisor Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles) questioned some of the teacher salary increases. Williams said that Loudoun is losing teachers to other jurisdictions, especially mid-level teachers, and LCPS wants to offer competitive salaries.

Supervisors will have until March 6 to submit questions about the budget to school staff. They will also host public hearings at 6 p.m. Feb. 28 and 3 p.m. March 2 in the Board of Supervisors meeting room in Leesburg, and at 9 a.m. March 4 at the LCPS Administration Building in Ashburn. The board is scheduled to approve the FY18 budget on April 4.