Superintendent Releases Road Map To Trim Schools Budget By $16 Million - Leesburg Today Online—Daily News Coverage of Loudoun County, Leesburg, Ashburn: Schools

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Superintendent Releases Road Map To Trim Schools Budget By $16 Million

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Posted: Friday, April 19, 2013 10:00 am

Loudoun County Public Schools’ superintendent has outlined recommendations on how to hold the district’s FY14 budget closer to the current fiscal year’s, while covering the costs to open two new elementary schools and enroll an additional 2,500 students.

The Board of Supervisors' allocation of local tax funding to the schools requires $16.02 million in reductions to the School Board’s adopted FY14 $859.69 million budget.

Following the School Board’s direction, Superintendent Edgar B. Hatrick's most recent version of the budget avoids any employee layoffs or any increase in class sizes, and also keeps a $12 million placeholder to provide 2 percent salary raises for all employees who receive a satisfactory evaluation.

His spending plan instead reduces the number of newly requested positions, including fewer kindergarten teachers, substitute teachers, assistant teachers, librarians and custodians, among other reductions.

“Everyone in our school system, including students, will feel the impacts of many of these reductions,” Hatrick wrote in a letter to the School Board posted on the school system website late Thursday. “But we have made every effort to protect students to the greatest extent possible by limiting personnel increases to school based positions only.”

The plan would reduce the number of new full-time equivalent positions in the budget by 103; Hatrick’s initial budget proposal presented in January requested 333 new positions. Targeted for reductions are 20 assistant ELL (English Language Learner) teachers, three special education teaching assistants and three part-time librarian positions, specifically at Legacy, Liberty and Pinebrook elementary schools. The current employees in each of those positions will be reassigned to fill other needed teaching positions, according to the budget outline. 

The proposal eliminates the planned expansion of full-day kindergarten at low-income, Title 1 schools by reducing five kindergarten teaching positions and five kindergarten teacher assistant positions to save $550,000. It cuts back the number of technology assistants who work at each middle school from two to one, saving 14 positions and $479,000. Those employees will also be reassigned to fill other needed positions.

The plan eliminates all 15 requested non-school based positions to save $866,104, as well as 32 custodial staff members to save $1.27 million. It also holds off on a new assistant principal position and librarian position at John Champe High School until it reaches more than 1,000 students, to save $190,710.

Several budget line items will remain at the current FY13 level, including funding for substitutes, saving $2.23 million; transportation for athletics and school field trips, saving $1.04 million; and tuition reimbursement, which Hatrick noted, will limit the number of employees who can receive tuition assistance.

All departments were asked to hold their operation and maintenance accounts at or near FY13 levels to save more than $4.5 million. Those accounts cover the costs of instructional materials, maintenance supplies, computers and other expenses.

The proposal cuts back funding for new part-time positions and overtime costs by $1.44 million, which, Hatrick noted, will leave just enough money to cover unusual or high volume workloads for only the most critical needs.

It eliminates any funding for unanticipated inclement weather next year, to save $267,000, and reduces the vehicle fuel and maintenance fund by $1.1 million. If fuel costs increase, student transportation will be affected, according to Hatrick.

The School Board is now working toward a reconciled budget of $843.67 million for FY14, 2.5 percent more than the district’s current fiscal year’s budget, while enrollment is projected to grow by 3.8 percent.

“It is sad that our County is choosing to constrict your funding,” Hatrick wrote to board members, “but I hope that our suggested resolution will meet with your approval when you meet on April 29.”

See Hatrick's full budget outlined here.

Vice Chairman Jill Turgeon (Blue Ridge) said reducing the fund for substitute teachers is the recommendation in Hatrick's proposal she is most concerned about. As a second-grade teacher at Cool Spring Elementary School, she recalls teachers avoiding taking time off when their children were sick or even for a family wedding because they were concerned they could  not get a substitute teacher.

“That put a lot of pressure on the teachers because they didn’t have assurances that they would be able to have substitutes when they needed them,” she said, noting that she plans to request that reductions be restricted to substitutes for teachers out of the classroom for staff development, as opposed to teachers requesting time off.

Turgeon later added, “We’re going to have to find the reductions somewhere.”

The first version of the schools’ FY14 budget, drafted by Hatrick, was $876.39 million. It would have been a 6.47 percent increase over the current fiscal year’s budget, but Hatrick called the spending plan just enough to cover the status quo and pay for the opening of two new elementary schools and 2,500 additional students.

The School Board trimmed his budget by $16.7 million by eliminating 15 newly requested positions and equalizing what it pays for its two employee health care options. Among other changes, the board also voted to drop all future hires who work fewer than 20 hours a week from health care coverage and Virginia Retirement System eligibility.

After the county Board of Supervisors adopted its budget last week, giving the school system just slightly less than $553.6 million in local funds, many school district employees who work fewer than 20 hours a week feared they would be required to pay more in health care coverage.

Hatrick will formally present his reconciled budget recommendations to the School Board at its meeting Tuesday, and the board will hold a work session on the budget at 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 29.

Welcome to the discussion.

9 comments:

  • itscrankin posted at 3:46 pm on Mon, Apr 22, 2013.

    itscrankin Posts: 64

    @Sundance - I didn't know that LCPS blowing through funds to buy Prometheus Boards was defined as "returning" unspent money in the budget.

    If there's unspent money, perhaps LCPS should consider replacing those who build these bloated budgets annually with people who care more about the taxpayer and how much we must do without so that those who work 3/4 of the year can have extravagant benefits packages and raises. (As an example of extravagant benefits: Did you know that, according to LCPS documentation, teachers only have to pay 10% of the total cost of their health insurance? We the taxpayer pick up roughly 90% of their bill. Loudoun County also contributes the employer and full employee share to the Virginia Retirement System, amounting to another 5% bonus in teacher compensation beyond their listed salary.)

     
  • Buffacuse posted at 10:12 am on Mon, Apr 22, 2013.

    Buffacuse Posts: 569

    "...limiting personnel increases to school-based positions only" is not the same as "cutting bloated administrative staff at massive new expensive headquarters in Ashburn."

    Failing to spend more money is not the same as cutting...failing to hire new front office staff does not represent a cost savings against current dollars being spent. If you're going to ask teachers to do more, ask the hqs types to do more first--don't penalize the subs, the kids and the school-based personnel to save your buddies down the hall.

     
  • Robert Pierce posted at 3:24 pm on Sun, Apr 21, 2013.

    Robert Pierce Posts: 50

    Given the event at Sandy Hook, it doesn't make sense for our local government to cut back on two Safety and Security Technicians that perform maintenance and operations of the School System's security equipment including access security and camera systems.

     
  • lcpssucker posted at 4:52 pm on Fri, Apr 19, 2013.

    lcpssucker Posts: 16

    Did the school board speak with employees in the school system? If they did, did they listen?

    The employees slated to be reassigned are amongst the lowest paid, between $18-22K before benefits and taxes are taken out. Now they want to increase their out of pocket costs by "reassigning" them where ever. Last year they took the hit for a 3day reduction in contract and an 8% increase in healthcare costs, then "given" a .50 raise.

    These are serious times and it requires serious discussion and action.

    Again, here are some ideas from these employees.
    1. Freeze all hiring until all TA's that have filed an application for another position are vetted and interviewed. Then if positions are still available open them to the remaining TA's. After that if no qualified TA has accepted that position, open it up to outside candidates.
    2. Eliminating "specialist" that are out of the building or in meetings more than they are working with students (reading/math/speech/ot/pt/counselors, etc.)
    3. Stop putting Promethean Boards/Smart Boards in copier rooms for an "in the event of" event.
    4. Stop giving away all the Freebies without documentation. The employees see how much is going out the door, without one question being asked.
    5. Stop providing bus service to students with disabilities to sites across the county when the same program exists in their homeschool area or to walkers that have their parents drive them to the closest bus stop so they don't have to walk or so their parents don't have to sit in a backup at the school (yeah - it really happens)
    6. Stop forcing the students to pick 2 fruits and 2 vegetables at lunch just for them to throw it away
    7. Stop automatically giving free school supplies/backpacks/lunchboxes to new students or at the beginning of the school year to students that look a certain way. If you can't afford them you will have no problem proving it.
    8. DO NOT build the new high schools with all the bells and whistles that the other schools had to fundraise for. I.E. press boxes
    9. Consider centralizing all special ed into one building
    10. Quit trying the latest and greatest program and then change your mind a year or two later, or find out it wasn't as great as it was advertised. I.e. Steps to Literacy, Pathways, Clarity, Phoenix, etc.

     
  • Sundance posted at 4:21 pm on Fri, Apr 19, 2013.

    Sundance Posts: 174

    The Sheriff was rewarded by York et al for blowing a $2 million hole in his budget; Hatrick was bad-mouthed for building one of the best school systems in the state and annually returning unspent funds. This Board of Supervisors continues to redefine corruption.

     
  • loudoun parent posted at 1:07 pm on Fri, Apr 19, 2013.

    loudoun parent Posts: 149

    It is time to close the small schools. These days no class should be under 10. The rest of the county should not loose field trip transportation or ELL support so that a very select few (most of whom are probably taking advantage of a big gaping loop whole in the tax code) can have an elite better than private education.

    PS Mas, what you are probably looking at is not a bus waiting for the pokey little puppy, but a bus stopped while the children on the bus get settled which coincidentally gives said puppy time to get to the bus. AND walking students required school zone traffic flow. Do you really want to commute through the entire county at 15-20 miles an hour 6 times a day?

     
  • mas954 posted at 12:28 pm on Fri, Apr 19, 2013.

    mas954 Posts: 352

    I'm not whining. Merely saying if the kid isn't AT the bus stop, then the bus shouldn't be waiting and wasting gas for 2-4 minutes while they walk / stroll down the street.

    Secondly, it makes absolutely NO sense for a kid to be bussed across town to "balance out the demographics" when there is a school within walking distance in their neighborhood. In the neighborhood generally does not involve crossing major roads. If it does, a crossing guard is a lot less costly than a bus. And more environmentally correct.

    Finally, I get up early enough to catch my bus to work. Guess what - if the riders are not AT the bus stop, it's not waiting. You can just watch the fumes while you wait for the next one.

     
  • bavarian19 posted at 11:21 am on Fri, Apr 19, 2013.

    bavarian19 Posts: 89

    Mas954,

    So you would rather have elementary aged children walking across major roads? That is not just short sighted, but selfish.

    If you have an issue with school buses and where they stop, then get up earlier and avoid the buses, or stop whining.

     
  • mas954 posted at 10:31 am on Fri, Apr 19, 2013.

    mas954 Posts: 352

    Here are two transportation suggestions- 1. Stop busing elementary kids all over town. Let them go to their neighborhood schools. There is NO reason to bus elementary school kids. NONE. They should all walk or ride their bikes.

    2. Instead of having a bus wait 2-4 minutes for children to walk and meander their way to the bus (which is holding up traffic for said 2-4 minutes), if the kid isn't AT the bus stop, then the bus keeps rolling.

    Waiting for the kids to walk out of their homes to the bus (which has traffic stopped) has happened EVERY day this week on Old Ryan Road near Ashburn Village Blvd. It's beyond ridiculous.

     
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