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Posted: Wednesday, April 23, 2014 12:40 am | Updated: 1:54 am, Wed Apr 23, 2014.

Loudoun’s four smallest schools were pulled from the budget chopping block with an 11th hour, 6-3 vote Tuesday night.

The vote came three weeks after Loudoun County School Board members agreed to formally consider closing the schools, and take the first legal steps to do so, to save $2 million a year and help bridge a $37.7 million funding gap in next fiscal year’s operating budget.

But at least two board members who said they were on the fence about the issue ultimately agreed to keep Hillsboro, Lincoln, Aldie and Hamilton elementary schools open for one more year, pushing the vote in favor of the schools.

Both Jeff Morse (Dulles) and Debbie Rose (Algonkian) said, somewhat reluctantly, they will give the small schools another year, but requested that the board committees conduct a thorough analysis of the cost to maintain and operate the four schools because the data kept changing during the hurried reconciliation process.

Morse sounded ready to vote for closing the schools, but finally said, “The bottom line is we didn’t do the process right.” His community would rather the board target money toward lowering class sizes, “so I’m supporting the small schools at the risk of my community having to go through another year of crowded schools. I don’t do that lightly… But we need to do a thorough assessment so we can put this to bed so every year western Loudoun doesn’t have to come in in a panic and try to save their schools.”

Just more than 24 hours earlier, School Board members sat through a heated five hour public hearing on the matter as close to 400 people, almost all dressed in red, came out to make their case for why the county’s smallest and oldest schools are an asset to Loudoun.

Several parents called the annual school closure threat a “political football” and accused board members of getting the public up in arms as retribution to the county Board of Supervisors for not fully funding their budget.

Kim Strassel, whose children attend Hillsboro Elementary, acknowledged that the county Board of Supervisors’ funding allocation to the school system is about 8 percent more than the current fiscal year, while enrollment is expected to grow about 3 percent.

“What’s happened here is you guys wanted a 13 percent increase and when you didn’t get it you came up with the worst possible cuts,” she said.

A handful of parents brought threats of their own, urging board members not to get too comfortable at the dais.

Ian Serotkin, an Aldie Elementary parent, said at the mic that he can’t believe the board is considering closing some of the best schools in the county and warned them of consequences: “I will do everything in my power to get anyone who votes to close these schools voted out of office... because none of you deserve to be in office.”

Several speakers questioned the operating costs for the four small schools provided by the Financial Services Department to the School Board, and others expressed concerns that shuttering the schools will create overcrowding at neighboring elementary schools and that it will ultimately result in a need for new schools as the county continues to grow.

“You have a budget problem, but saving $2 million to later pay $34 million is irrational,” Tonya Matthews, of Purcellville, said.

Before they took a vote late Tuesday, several School Board members, including Morse, called some of the speakers’ comments offensive and ugly.

“We like to say the east versus west friction isn’t there, but it really is there,” Morse said.

Chairman Eric Hornberger (Ashburn), who voted to close the schools along with Brenda Sheridan (Sterling) and Kevin Kuesters (Broad Run), responded to claims that closing those schools will only result in the need for a new school down the road.

He said spent the last few weeks digging through the county’s student enrollment history and projections, as well as the expected maintenance that the aging buildings will require over the next five years. Even as every one of the approved and pending housing developments comes on line, there is plenty of space in the western Loudoun elementary schools, he added.

“Even if we remove the four small schools [the remaining western Loudoun schools] would still be at 84 percent capacity, which is a far better capacity level than any of the other planning areas that we have,” he said.

Responding to a question from the board, Executive Director of Planning and Legislative Services Sam Adamo confirmed the more than 2,000 pending housing units are expected to generate 610 elementary students, which the remaining schools would have space to take on.

Vice Chairman Jill Turgeon (Blue Ridge), a vocal proponent of the small schools, pointed out that even if the schools are closed, the county will still have to maintain the buildings.

Bill Fox (Leesburg) said his vote to keep the schools operating was a philosophical one. He campaigned on providing more school choice in Loudoun, and “those small schools represent an excellent alternative to the one-size-fits-all model that we use in most of our other schools,” he said, and added that he does not believe that population growth in the western end of the county will not pick up. “I’m not willing to make the gamble for $2 million that we may in fact need to build a new $30 million school down the road.”

Kevin Kuesters (Broad Run), who voted to close the schools, called the decision the toughest vote he’ll have to make through the budget reconciliation process. He said the community he represents made it clear their focus is smaller class sizes, not the schools in the rural end of the county. “I want to keep the option open, but my community’s priority is class size.”

Hornberger and Sheridan also expressed disappointment following their vote. “It’s about choices, and we don’t have the flexibility to fund everything,” Sheridan said.

Jennifer Bergel (Catoctin) praised the hundreds who spent their Monday night at the five-hour long public hearing for their dedication, saying, “They did what needed to be done. The four schools worked together and showed their community spirit.”

She also urged the communities of the small schools to continue to recruit students to transfer through the open enrollment policy. “The community schools throughout Loudoun County have a responsibility to fill their open seats.”

The search to trim the school system’s adopted $949.72 million FY15 budget comes after the county Board of Supervisors voted April 2 to hold the county budget to the equalized real estate tax rate of $1.155. The rate gives the school system $600.8 million in local funds for next fiscal year, a $47 million bump in local taxes over the current year but about $37.7 million less in local funds than the School Board has said is needed to cover the cost of 2,375 more students and the opening of three new schools on the eastern end of the county this fall.

The School Board is expected to adopt its reconciled budget Wednesday evening. Follow the final leg of budget reconciliation at leesburgtoday.com.

Welcome to the discussion.

43 comments:

  • Glory posted at 6:22 pm on Tue, Apr 29, 2014.

    Glory Posts: 1035

    So to those who complain loudly and make demands on those in this country who don't speak English as a primary language to learn it, it's now a luxury? To spell it out, that's contradictory and isolationist sounding.

     
  • jplegend posted at 10:39 pm on Mon, Apr 28, 2014.

    jplegend Posts: 44

    I answered...sorry you were not able to understand. I'm talking about teaching English as a second language. $22 million to teach English to folks who don't speak it is a luxury we can't afford, not when we're considering closing schools. So, to spell it out for you, no ELL.

     
  • Glory posted at 2:56 pm on Mon, Apr 28, 2014.

    Glory Posts: 1035

    jplegend still didn't answer the question: Do you not think there should be any English classes at all, gr. 1-12, in Loudoun? Literacy and literature, communication skills are not important to you?

    Other countries promote studies of dual languages from early ages, but Loudoun can't see the benefit? It's naive to think that everyone has the wherewithal and funding to travel to other countries with their children.

     
  • jplegend posted at 10:49 am on Mon, Apr 28, 2014.

    jplegend Posts: 44

    Taxpayers should not have to pay for others to learn English. Do some traveling and find out how many countries around the world will pay for you to learn their language.

     
  • Glory posted at 7:35 am on Sun, Apr 27, 2014.

    Glory Posts: 1035

    Curious; does "$22 million to teach English? Criminal." refer to middle and high school faculty positions? OR ELL programs and faculty?

    I will always vote for bond referendums to fund ALL county public educational needs.

     
  • jplegend posted at 11:09 am on Fri, Apr 25, 2014.

    jplegend Posts: 44

    For those of us in the west, the lion's share of our tax dollars that go toward the education budget every year are for new schools, facilities, and programs in the eastern part of the county. To accommodate the "overcrowding" in the east. Been that way for years. Yet those folks who are getting all our money would take away the little funding we do get, in the form of our schools. Most of those in the east seem to have bought into the school board's misinformation campaign about having to deal with "cuts" to a budget that actually got the largest increase in the county's history, an increase double that of the increase in student headcount. Reading the posts from those in the east confirm that they do not have a clue about our schools...class sizes, capacity, etc. They are simply parroting the line of resentment brought about by poor planning and an out of control increase in county residents not part of the tax base. $22 million to teach English? Criminal. It was obvious that the threat to close our schools was nothing more than a desire to cause the highest profile pain in an effort to pain the BOS as the villain. Every election day I have voted for bond referendums to fund the educational needs of the east. No more.

     
  • Barbara Munsey posted at 9:25 am on Fri, Apr 25, 2014.

    Barbara Munsey Posts: 597

    mosborn, if "I moved in last year" is a valid argument, then me telling 17 years worth of stories is equally valid--unless it isn't depending on who's making the statement, right? And that's how THAT song has been since I moved in too.

    Special snowflake seems to be the name of some games in the county, and each successive wave teaches it to each new wave, because it was used on them first thing off the moving van too, back to the original move ins.

    Yes, it is a much larger issue than the small schools--that's part of the problem, and I'm not talking about "what will be destroyed", "lost", "ruined" and every other emotional card in the deck: by granting so much weight to the emotion, no objective work is done on much more of the budget than the items that can generate passionate color-crowds, as many more than me have pointed out since this year's stock run of the biggest drama.

    Sorry about the traffic point--you see, the same few also have used traffic as an excuse to protest other people's schools. and etc.

     
  • mosborn posted at 8:18 am on Fri, Apr 25, 2014.

    mosborn Posts: 145

    Barbara - It certainly appears that your extreme dislike of a few parents in the Aldie area has defined your very vocal opinion on what is a much larger issue. That, and the fact that you've lived in Loudoun for 17 years, which is apparently exactly the right amount of time to not be labelled a special snowflake.

    Hopefully, everyone agrees with your repeated assertion that an objective cost analysis has yet to have been done...and needs to be. Even the BOS and LCPS maybe. And that ultimately this decision will be made based on that evidence, with a sprinkling of "what's best for our kids" Not based on patently false arguments like additional buses making the "snarled commute" unsafe for our kids.

     
  • Barbara Munsey posted at 7:26 pm on Thu, Apr 24, 2014.

    Barbara Munsey Posts: 597

    noleft, no one is asking anyone to justify where they live, but nice spin yourself; lots of people would like a better budget justification for the continuing model other than "but we live here", which is at least a better justification than "we just moved here". Lots of people live in other areas of the county as well. Lots, who often have to justify where they live, and sometimes to people who moved in after they did. That's a way of life in Loudoun too, it seems.

    Paid? Standard diversion. No, but again, nice try.

    busy, I do indeed have an issue with some very few activists who have made it a career to protest services and amenities for everyone but themselves, including schools, roads, libraries, rec centers, and hospitals.

    And I will continue to have an issue with the hypocrisy of those few, and with the fact that no objective analysis is done when reviewing the differing models year after year after year.

    As my rep pointed out in his reluctant vote in favor of keeping them open for another year, there was no adequate process of objective review, which is not fair to anyone on either side of the issue. I agree with him, and have no trouble with his vote, unless no objective review is done to put the issue to rest.

    If the can is just kicked down the road again for an annual pie fight, there are lots of people and things in the county worthy of time for inspecting and discussing them that DON'T get attention because of the annual angst and drama.

    Just as some point out that nearly 70 cents of every dollar is too much in the annual budget to devote to one public service.

    They are entitled to their opinion on that.

    You are entitled to yours.

    And so am I, to mine.

     
  • busymom posted at 1:59 pm on Thu, Apr 24, 2014.

    busymom Posts: 82

    An objective financial analysis is a fine idea and should be done. I think these schools based on the analysis so far have shown they can educate their students for the same amount as other students in the county. Sharing principals and other support staff and specialist is a great idea as a way for cost savings...but closing these schools is a terrible idea. The research on the benefits of small schools in too overwhelming to ignore. We should be trying to figure out how to cost effectively expand these small environment models to the whole county not shut them down.

    Barbara, you really seem to have a very personal problem with Aldie or some of the people there. I would urge you to not let it color your view of what is in the best interest of the children of this county. One size does not fit all. Any parent who has more than one child can tell you they are different. You don't give your children all the same gifts for their whole lives, or the same experiences. Some like music, some sports etc. I think you get my point. Why would one educational size/structure be forced on the community?

    Find ways to keep those small schools at the community per pupil spending and let them keep doing what they have been doing for years....educating Loudoun children and educating them well.

     
  • NoLeftTurnsInDowntown posted at 11:29 am on Thu, Apr 24, 2014.

    NoLeftTurnsInDowntown Posts: 126

    I have to agree with K Balderson - the spin of lies and deception around this issue is incredible. It is completely unfair for some taxpayers to have to justify themselves and their choices on where to live to the citizens and politicians to the east since they obviously are not happy with their own choices on where to live and work etc. It just doesnt seem fair to have other taxpayers have leverage over your community simply because they are bigger - seems to be the definition of BULLYING. Also just whose payroll is Barbara Munsey on? Seriously - who is paying her to encourage this reprehensible, bully-like behaviour. BM - mind your own business and leave the west alone!

     
  • Barbara Munsey posted at 8:19 am on Thu, Apr 24, 2014.

    Barbara Munsey Posts: 597

    It's okay for you to put words in mine?

    It reads more aggressively than a simple "change the channel if you don't enjoy it", but maybe you don't mean it to sound as pugnacious as it reads (fight, bitter end, keep out, etc).

    And there's the divide in all its glory--we're all one county, but....A, B, C,...

    Here's hoping for an objective financial analysis, sooner rather than later this cycle, so the issue can be put rationally to bed.

    then maybe some of the emotional warfare can modify too, with actual information to go on.

     
  • K Balderson posted at 7:25 am on Thu, Apr 24, 2014.

    K Balderson Posts: 5

    BM… don't put words in my mouth…

    What I said was "if you don't like the "prairie", stay east of Goose Creek"..

    there was no "or else"… It's like saying "if you don't like sky scrapers don't go to NYC.. Pretty simple really..

     
  • Barbara Munsey posted at 8:11 pm on Wed, Apr 23, 2014.

    Barbara Munsey Posts: 597

    KB, I watched parts of the meeting, and read the articles.

    Two votes for retaining the schools came with comments that they could support one more year, during which a proper financial analysis could be done.

    You're right that they were "aye"s, and you're also right to be sarcastic about the "suggestion" that's what was said. They flat out said it.

    Again, how is asking that decisions be made on an objective financial analysis--still not done, but now there's a year to try it out--"trying to transform the west into the east"?

    Telling people to stay on the other side of Goose Creek or else?

    As I said long previously, the divide starts and is fueled one way.

    (I grew up in northern VA, and visited out here fairly often when it actually was a rural county. I have five nieces and nephews that went to Valley, but none live in the county anymore. Priced out.)

     
  • K Balderson posted at 7:22 pm on Wed, Apr 23, 2014.

    K Balderson Posts: 5

    how does "tentative" look on a vote? Is that a yes or a no? And if you are looking for an objective analysis, the vote would have been 9 - 0. Tell you what Babs, I'm don't really care what you are "sure" of. What I do care about is a way of life that you seem to have no clue about…and what I am "sure" about it that I will fight for it till the bitter end. Stop trying to transform the west into the east...

     
  • Barbara Munsey posted at 6:39 pm on Wed, Apr 23, 2014.

    Barbara Munsey Posts: 597

    "vote was 6-3 to keep them open. If you don't like it, take it up with the "representative you deserve".

    And if you don't like the "prairie", stay east of Goose Creek… we won't miss you..."

    Two of those six votes were quite tentative, and suggested only a year's reprieve for the purpose of (finally?) doing an objective analysis.

    As for "stay east of the Goose", I guess that's okay, now that the vote's over? Next year we'll be all one county again, I'm sure.

    :D

     
  • K Balderson posted at 6:02 pm on Wed, Apr 23, 2014.

    K Balderson Posts: 5

    since you mentioned foreign language…maybe you can grab some of the 22 million that Loudoun spends to teach that "other" foreign language…you know, English…

    By the way, vote was 6-3 to keep them open. If you don't like it, take it up with the "representative you deserve".

    And if you don't like the "prairie", stay east of Goose Creek… we won't miss you...

     
  • johnj posted at 4:36 pm on Wed, Apr 23, 2014.

    johnj Posts: 5

    Well, it's certainly wonderful to know that those small schools and their communities can keep playing little house in the prairie--because other aspects that concern the entire school system will be going down the toilet. With those $2M the county could have saved 33 foreign language teachers that will be getting the shaft in a few months. But who cares about foreign language? It's not like kids in school will need to interact with other humans for education or business outside the county, right? (Re: the all-republican, tea-party leaning BOS: communities get the representatives they deserve.)

     
  • STPickrell posted at 4:10 pm on Wed, Apr 23, 2014.

    STPickrell Posts: 49

    Given that Hamilton and Lincoln cost barely more than the county average per student and Aldie is within ~10% of the county average, I'm not sure where you're saving money that you have to spend at (fill in the school those kids would go to).

    Also -- you've got growth occurring around the Aldie catchment area and some remaining growth around Purcellville -- I'm not sure why you want to sacrifice some 400 seats that are already paid for just to put neighboring schools that much closer to capacity and make the day of having to pay up another $25 million (12 years of alleged savings from closing the smaller schools) for another ES all the closer.

     
  • Barbara Munsey posted at 3:15 pm on Wed, Apr 23, 2014.

    Barbara Munsey Posts: 597

    "Unworthiness" is your own construct, mom.

    Asking repeatedly for an objective cost analysis is not saying something is "unworthy", unless this is headed down the road that disagreeing with, or even questioning something, is attacking it.

    And I have yet in my time in the county been persuaded, if we really are one county (when someone wants something?) that one kind of resident or community is more special than another in a public system.

    The county can't afford to treat people differently in the more populous zones--the needs for basic provision of service in some areas are too pressing for too many.

     
  • K Balderson posted at 2:58 pm on Wed, Apr 23, 2014.

    K Balderson Posts: 5

    Meg posted "While I have been told I am losing my job, I can't help but resent the four "private" schools that are being saved. They have no administrator in their building for 1/2 of every day, the teachers have 10 students, and their salaries are the same as the rest of the county. Loudoun County has once again failed"

    Thanks for proving the point….the point that you have no clue what you are talking about. The point that misinformation has been spread to make a case to close western Loudoun schools. Come and visit Hamilton. we have at least 25 students per class..in every class...We have a full time principal who does her job VERY well. She is in the building all day. She knows all of her students and they know her Our property is paid for (long before you even lived in Loudoun), there is no debt service at all. Our children test in the very top percentiles. They are happy, they are smart, they know what community is.

     
  • LoudounMom214 posted at 2:42 pm on Wed, Apr 23, 2014.

    LoudounMom214 Posts: 69

    Cherry-picking – the point exactly. Members of the SB and you yourself are picking a few very angry and hurt people out of a standing-room only marathon style hearing and choosing to hold up their comments as examples of the unworthiness of the west. The vast, vast majority of the hearing was devoted to success stories, community pride, and budget numbers.

     
  • Barbara Munsey posted at 1:44 pm on Wed, Apr 23, 2014.

    Barbara Munsey Posts: 597

    Excuse me mom and Op, but most in the east hear quite often, during the near-annual boundary processes that come in a booming growth environment in the one area of the county planned for growth, that no Loudoun County school belongs to any one community, and your kid will be moving (in Ashburn, there are people whose kids have been moved five or more times).

    Plenty of people in the suburbs head into boundary hearings and say "I bought my house last year in this community specifically so my child could attend this school". It means nothing.

    They've just all been told that some schools DO belong to some communities, which is simply a continuation of the ugly argument made by some that the suburbs aren't "real" communities.

    Mr. Reed was correct that some did not do their own communities proud in their denigration of other people's schools as "factories" and worse.

    An objective cost analysis should be done--it still hasn't.

     
  • LoudounMom214 posted at 1:39 pm on Wed, Apr 23, 2014.

    LoudounMom214 Posts: 69

    It should be pointed out that the cost reduction for closing the community schools was also based on job cuts. And with this budget, they are all losing people as well. No one is happy with the losses. Furthermore, the class size point is woefully incorrect, as has been demonstrated by many and is simple to verify.

    Meg, I feel for you and am sorry you are in this position. I would have preferred to see the salary sag addressed over 2 years or delayed a bit further to save more jobs.

     
  • The Operative posted at 1:03 pm on Wed, Apr 23, 2014.

    The Operative Posts: 207

    Loudounmom, I hear you. Most in the East have a me centric mentality, they don't care past their own self serving interest. It's a sad and disappointing reality. As I said before the East vs. West is wrong, we are all in this together, as such we should be supporting each other. Although it's not surprising a few LCSB members actually perpetuate this dysfunctional mentality. Eastern Loudoun is the me-me-me land.

     
  • meg posted at 12:56 pm on Wed, Apr 23, 2014.

    meg Posts: 1

    While I have been told I am losing my job, I can't help but resent the four "private" schools that are being saved. They have no administrator in their building for 1/2 of every day, the teachers have 10 students, and their salaries are the same as the rest of the county. Loudoun County has once again failed

     
  • busymom posted at 12:51 pm on Wed, Apr 23, 2014.

    busymom Posts: 82

    I would suggest our school board do the research and look at the benefits of small schools. Kids coming from small schools have the ability to try more activities, have lower levels of violence and property damage, those kids do better in college, and go on to gain more post college degree. Small schools help eliminate the achievement gap, and result in happier teachers and happier students. It lowers the incidents of bullying. Community support is lower for large schools as is student and parent involvement.

    All the research since the 1980's has pushed for smaller schools.

    In addition they have found in schools that have tried to close and consolidate schools in the last 20 years that they found no economic benefit from the action. They less harm to the schools that were added to but great harm to the students who came from schools that were closed.

    As for Loudoun specifically. Some people would like to see these schools closed for what appears to be personal and very ugly reasons. One size does not fit all and offering a choice between school A with over 500 elementary school students and school B with over 500 elementary school students is not a choice. It's like asking if you'd like and apple or an apple. Loudoun's open enrollment policy allows for true choice but only if a real choice actually exists

     
  • LoudounMom214 posted at 12:43 pm on Wed, Apr 23, 2014.

    LoudounMom214 Posts: 69

    I hear the arguments for closure, particularly from one vocal here; as advocating ration over emotion; claiming to be that voice of reason; decrying any rights of newcomers in the west to lay claim to their inclusion in community, culture, and tradition; accusing others of only caring for their side, and faulting all ration provided on behalf of that side. Yet, notice the emotion coming from those actively campaigning to close the schools. The anger and vitriol thickens their postings and weighs down the viewpoint, anger and vitriol that they were unsuccessful in taking from another group. Public discourse should be for the betterment of all and at least in this forum and on these issues, that has not been the case.

     
  • K Balderson posted at 12:13 pm on Wed, Apr 23, 2014.

    K Balderson Posts: 5

    Only in government can you get a one year 70 million $ increase in budget and say you have to "make cuts".

    Only in government can you believe you can lower class size in the east end of the county by closing schools in the west.

     
  • Barbara Munsey posted at 11:37 am on Wed, Apr 23, 2014.

    Barbara Munsey Posts: 597

    pork, re "So in reality, the SB had zero idea what the true net cost savings would have been, IF ANY!!"

    Correct. It was an emotion-based decision.

    It usually is.

     
  • pork posted at 10:46 am on Wed, Apr 23, 2014.

    pork Posts: 7

    "Both Jeff Morse (Dulles) and Debbie Rose (Algonkian) said, somewhat reluctantly, they will give the small schools another year, but requested that the board committees conduct a thorough analysis of the cost to maintain and operate the four schools because the data kept changing during the hurried reconciliation process."

    So in reality, the SB had zero idea what the true net cost savings would have been, IF ANY!!

     
  • David Dickinson posted at 10:45 am on Wed, Apr 23, 2014.

    David Dickinson Posts: 957

    "But we need to do a thorough assessment so we can put this to bed so every year western Loudoun doesn’t have to come in in a panic and try to save their schools"

    And to think the School Board floats this idea every year WITHOUT having ever done a thorough assessment.

    While I never doubted the political spitefulness of this, I have a modicum of schadenfreude in seeing the public's loud, practically violent, disapproval at the Board's deployment of a weapon of mass stupidity.

    We can all find solace in the fact that Hatrick and his den of troublemaking malcontents is on his way out (and hopefully doesn't reappear in another form) and a seemingly honest broker is on the horizon.

    A new day dawns.

     
  • Barbara Munsey posted at 10:35 am on Wed, Apr 23, 2014.

    Barbara Munsey Posts: 597

    That's a 33.3% difference from the CIP. Not trying to misrepresent, but if 2 kids makes that huge of a percentage of difference in utilization, it's a prime example of how ridiculous this has gotten, or rather how ridiculous some of it has always been: I remember when capacity at Hillsboro was listed as 90, some 15 years ago, and people were outraged in their advocacy speeches that it was at "110% of capacity!" It had 9 "extra" kids that year.

    I know there are not multiple classes per grade--which makes the "class size" argument a bit ridiculous too, in the grand scheme of things.

    And the school board is responsible for the whole grand scheme of things, and multiple millions of dollars in the process.

    Summer school should be reconsidered, and probably a few other tweaks as well.

     
  • hrsgal posted at 10:20 am on Wed, Apr 23, 2014.

    hrsgal Posts: 3

    @Barbara Munsey ~~ There are 8 children in the 2nd grade at Hillsboro, and in addition the classroom is a 1st/2nd combo class with 25 students in that classroom. Please do not publically misrepresent our class size on an open forum. Most of our class sizes are in line with the rest of the county. We just do not have multiple classes per grade, that is what keeps the school small in size, not classroom numbers.

     
  • hubba bubba posted at 9:41 am on Wed, Apr 23, 2014.

    hubba bubba Posts: 426

    Bill Fox has it right....we are not "one size fits all" school district. There has to be some ability to serve the public in different areas. That said, there needs to be a plan in place now for Hillsboro to transition to charter. The other 3 will be needed in the sooner than later. Look how they royally screwed up their predictions on the need for a high school in western Loudoun----the district seemed so surprised with Valley went overcapacity long before it was predicted and then it took so long to get Woodgrove built. Focus on relieving the folks with overcapacity schools now--no matter east or west.

     
  • Barbara Munsey posted at 9:08 am on Wed, Apr 23, 2014.

    Barbara Munsey Posts: 597

    Correction--some of the small schools have some grades that are larger by a couple kids than the average class size in the system as a whole, and average comes from both a low and a high. Hillsboro has 6 kids in second grade, which is smaller than most mandated caps for spec ed classrooms.

    I hope they do follow up with an actual objective assessment, because it appears the can was kicked down the road again with a primarily emotional decision.

    The political theatre of Loudoun rocks on--much as I suspect musical theater made it into the budget briefly. No doubt it was magical to have a performance piece of advocacy pop up in a school board meeting for that, and no doubt the kids did great. It probably felt just like GLEE. Does it belong in the budget when so many other things are on the table for far more kids than plan to make musical theater a career? Nope, and saner votes prevailed on that magnet.

    To eliminate summer school, a much smaller savings than not continuing the vestigial rural model for a minute percentage of the kids the system is responsible for, seems like it should come back for reconsideration: I would hope it is more important to the school board that everyone have a mechanism to complete their diploma or stay at grade level than it is to provide an ambient experience to a very small cohort--Ms. Rose was correct, this is not "school choice", at least as most understand it.

    Charters are a move in the direction of school choice, but that too needs to be considered as a system wide implementation and possibility, and not just as a tool in the kit to primarily continue specific small schools.

    Mr. Morse is correct on the bond percentages--while watching the public hearing I saw any number of folks state that they had always supported bonds, and for the fraction of one percent of voters who were there that night, it may indeed be true. However, if you DO read the election results, overall school bonds do not pass in the rural precincts, unless there is a rural item in the bond.

    If the supersize Aldie effort does continue with the suggestion that the next Dulles planning area school be delayed in order to fund expansion at a school in a village in the rural policy area, instead of where the kids who need the seats live, and if that effort is successful because of other GLEEful emotional decisions, it will have far worse electoral consequences than the somewhat confused person who posted on a forum last night that the three who voted against keeping the schools open would never get their vote again. Again? What kind of ballot did they have the last time, that they voted for other districts along with their own and an at-large seat?

    I guess you really CAN have it all! :D

     
  • leighdool posted at 9:01 am on Wed, Apr 23, 2014.

    leighdool Posts: 1

    I am confused as to what small elite schools are in the West that are public schools. Obviously Loudoun parent has never taken the time to research or visit the schools they are condemming. My childrens class is at capacity and because of our "elite' experience we are not warrented an asistant, a "perk" many of the larger schools enjoy. Not one person could detail what services are being robbed of the rest of the county so that our schools could stay open, Loudoun parent if you have that list please share it with the rest of us we would love to see it. The simple fact is our schools cost less, much less then the average Loudoun elementary school. Not only do they cost less we are some of the best schools the state has to offer for elementary, the awards back this up. Simply put we do more with less and we do it really, really well. I have not once begrudged my tax dollars going towards building any of the new schools or the fact that my school will never have the amenities some take for granted. This is not an elite experience, this is a choice. A choice that anyone in this county is free to make. I would be willing to bet if those who are so quick to judge us had to make do with the same facilities and budget we have those same people would cry foul.

     
  • 2nd from 29th posted at 9:00 am on Wed, Apr 23, 2014.

    2nd from 29th Posts: 13

    School Board "cried Wolf"! Money was always there!

     
  • Glory posted at 8:52 am on Wed, Apr 23, 2014.

    Glory Posts: 1035

    LTM reports that while programs and small schools were saved in budget reconciliation, there is still a $300 thousand deficit. Close. Here's a solution:

    “2012. The county agreed to pay Daniel Snyder’s outfit $2 million over the next four years for the ability to advertise and market Loudoun in connection with the Redskins and the team headquarters in Ashburn, plus get tickets and use of a suite at FedEx Field for a game.” TOM JACKMAN, Washington Post, February 28 2014

    Maybe that remaining $300 thousand for LCSB shortfall should come from Redskins perks for the BOS?

     
  • myownsense posted at 8:47 am on Wed, Apr 23, 2014.

    myownsense Posts: 89

    Do you understand "He said the community he represents made it clear their focus is smaller class sizes, not the schools in the rural end of the county."? It is that attitude that I find selfish, incomprehensible, and just plain ugly. You get what you give and if that is the attitude some in this county have about "those kids," what right or reason would you have to expect anyone to care about "your kids" or even any kids? And I have just as much concern about the parochial self-interest attitudes displayed by some of those on the other side of this issue. These types of "my school versus your school" or "east versus west" or "newcomers versus long-time resident" attitudes do nothing to advance the debate and to ensure that the best interests of the entire system and all of the children are foremost.

     
  • loudoun parent posted at 7:53 am on Wed, Apr 23, 2014.

    loudoun parent Posts: 143

    Ubnbelieveable. First, they didn't do this right? How many years are they going to be shocked and amazed that they have to consider this before they follow the "correct" process? Second, and more importantly, how many services my child and the rest of the county's students going to loose so that a very small few can keep their elite small school experience? How can they keep those schools open, while average class sizes continue to be too large?

     
  • KathleenVS posted at 7:26 am on Wed, Apr 23, 2014.

    KathleenVS Posts: 24

    Not sure I understand your comment @myownsense. Small school does not equal small class size. In fact, the small schools have larger average class sizes than the rest of Loudoun County.

     
  • myownsense posted at 6:35 am on Wed, Apr 23, 2014.

    myownsense Posts: 89

    I am still amazed at a lot of the incomprehensible attitudes among our citizenship, especially among at least one member of the school board. Your priority and that of your constituents is smaller class sizes? Really? But I guess it is only a priority as long you, personally, benefit? No one else can have smaller class sizes if you and your constituents aren't the beneficiaries? I don't live in the Aldie, Hamilton, Hillsboro, or Lincoln attendance zones, nor in any of the attendance zones that would have absorbed students if these schools were closed, and my family would not have been directly affected by any of the proposed closure actions. However, I am a taxpayer and I find such attitudes selfish, incomprehensible, and just plain ugly. I'll be hard-pressed to support any candidates who claim their priority is smaller class sizes. I've seen behind that curtain and now believe I know what really motivates that effort.