The Loudoun County School Board met for one last budget work session April 20 to address $5.5 million in final cuts to its FY2018 budget.
Superintendent Eric Williams presented the board with a list of recommended cuts along with a list of possible but not recommended cuts. He proposed that the board make the base motion when it meets again on April 24, and then make subsequent motions as needed to address items on the second list.
New to the list of possible reductions are a singular class of full-day kindergarten (FDK) at a cost savings of $18,514 and the replacement of school furniture for $120,600. The list of possible reductions had formerly been comprised solely of a reducing universal FDK from 82 percent to 75 percent.
School furniture is replaced on a cyclical schedule and Loudoun has been on schedule, Assistant Superintendent Kevin Lewis said.
Jill Turgeon (Blue Ridge) suggested cutting the furniture replacements in order to keep the 2 percent increase of co-curricular stipends which are on the recommended reduction list. Loudoun Education Association (LEA) president Dave Palanzi asked the board to maintain the modest teacher salary increases.
Other reductions LCPS staff recommended include money for the design and construction of Metro Schools, new school equipment, new visitor management systems, server and infrastructure upgrades, radio replacements, camera replacements, outsourcing special needs transportation, bus maintenance, bus fuel, light fleet fuel and maintenance, 44 school buses from the Board of Supervisors fund balance transfer and a move to a lease-based remaining fleet, and the part-time School Board aides.
Eric DeKenipp (Catoctin) asked about the added cost of moving the 48 adults in the English Language Lerner (ELL) population that is in the general education program to the adult education program. LCPS is required by law to provide education to ELL students through 22 years of age. Staff wasn’t able to provide an answer at the time, but mentioned there’s a budget line for a $36,000 increase to expand the ELL adult program.
Williams also presented the board with examples of budget items that were considered but didn’t make it to the final proposal sent to the Board of Supervisors. Board Vice Chair Brenda Sheridan (Sterling) had asked for the list to educate the public that the board does not ask for everything it considers.
“There were millions of dollars of expenditures that were seriously considered but didn’t make it to the final proposal,” Williams said.
The examples included $2.1 million in restructuring teacher’s salary schedule to meet or come close to meeting vision 20/20 standards, five additional special education teachers so that every high school would have one, four additional maintenance people, two additional custodians, and more money for replacement furniture for five elementary schools, Williams said.
“We are sometimes portrayed as asking for the moon. We don’t ask for everything, it’s cut down to a needs-based budget,” Sheridan said.
Members of the public can comment on recommended cuts before the board finalizes the budget on April 24.