School Officials Announce Universal Full-Day Kindergarten’s Price Tag

School leaders have crunched the numbers to come up with one of the most sought-after figures in Loudoun County.

They now know what it would cost to provide a full, six-hour school day to every local kindergartener starting this fall.

The price tag is $16.5 million. That’s how much more it would cost to hire enough teachers and support staff and purchase instructional materials to offer a full school day for the 5,121 kindergartners expected to enroll this fall.

Director of Elementary Education W. Michael Martin announced the eight-figure estimate at a budget work session Wednesday.

Then he broke the bad news: “It’s just hypothetical because we don’t have the space today.”

The fact that Superintendent Eric Williams could not deliver a cost estimate for universal full-day kindergarten last fall—ahead of Election Day—was a common criticism among candidates vying for seats at the local and state levels.

The superintendent had said that any figure his staff came up with wouldn’t be much more than a “guestimate” because the population in much of the county is still growing. Classroom additions will be needed in central and southern Loudoun to accommodate all of the county’s kindergarteners. But Williams said in October that it was too early to know exactly which schools will need additional classrooms. And it still is, Martin reiterated Wednesday. Once neighborhoods in central Loudoun mature and enrollment levels out, more classroom space might open up in the Ashburn area.

Still, Martin said senior staff members wanted to respond to board members’ request and at least provide a rough estimate if the classroom space was there.

During the work session, board members also heard more details on Williams’ plan to make big strides toward universal full-day kindergarten. The superintendent’s proposed budget earmarks $9.7 million to extend a full school day to 75 percent of the county’s 5,121 kindergartners this fall.

Loudoun County is one of three divisions in Virginia that do not offer every kindergartner a full school day. In the past year, they have expanded the percentage of kindergartners who attend a full day from 11 percent to 32 percent, or 1,536 students.

To boost that to 3,841 kindergartners, the proposal calls for 167 full-day classes in 43 schools. Under that plan, 32 schools would offer only full-day kindergarten to its students. Families who prefer a half day could apply to attend another school.

The seats in full-day classrooms would first go to students considered academically at-risk, then to other students within that school. Any remaining seats would be assigned through a lottery.

View more details on the proposal here, and see a list of schools that would offer full-day kindergarten under Williams’ plan here.

13 thoughts on “School Officials Announce Universal Full-Day Kindergarten’s Price Tag

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  • 2016-01-24 at 4:08 pm

    So you think I am “ignored”? Btw, what’s that closed meeting for on Tuesday, Jan 26, 2016 if I am “ignored”? But we don’t even need to go that far. Look at Morse’s question about the pay raises over the last 10 years during the FY17 budget discussion. That was a direct result of my FOIA inquiry. And LCPS provided the exact same format I received. They just added another year to it. Or look at DeKenipp’s question about the distribution of teachers. That plays into how much step increases cost. But LCPS was so incompetent, they provided him the wrong info on teachers’ degrees. LCPS claimed only about 15% of their teachers had Masters. That’s news to a lot of “highly qualified” teachers. LCPS analysts don’t even understand their data systems and the supervisors are so clueless they can’t even spot ridiculous answers (see my Facebook posts for the full story).

    So Rdj is so enamored with “transparency”, he thinks taxpayers should be forced to dig through 1000’s of documents on LCSB’s website to cobble together the history of pay increases in LCPS. Jeff Morse obviously disagrees since he asked LCPS to answer that question this year. So are you saying that Jeff Morse is incapable of understanding BoardDocs? Rdj never cited any specific documents on BoardDocs last year. Rdj claimed no teachers had received step increases since 2009 (a lie since LCPS’ own FOIA response indicated every teacher had received an increase in step since 2012) and then challenged anybody that disagreed to search through BoardDocs to prove him wrong. At the time, I had a FOIA response on a LCSB member’s spouse that clearly disproved that. I should have just posted the name and specific salaries on the web.

    Folks, Rdj doesn’t want an honest debate. He’s trying to get into a name-calling contest so he can claim facts should be ignored. He has a senior teacher in his household. That’s why he wants huge hikes for teacher step 2x while teachers in steps 1-8 get a pittance. If you like, Rdj, I’ll be happy to post his salaries for the last 4 years on here to prove you wrong. As I recall, your housemate corrected your erroneous arguments last year too. Is that what you want?

  • 2016-01-24 at 12:55 pm

    I didn’t say “it was posted on BoardDocs for FY16”, I said the information to assess changes in salaries over past years is there on BoardDocs. There’s little point going through the effort of digging out the citations again for you when you continue demonstrating that you either can’t read or you’re dead-set on distorting what’s there.

    I’m honestly not sure which is the case, though I’m afraid it’s the former. Either way, no one could be expected to deal reasonably with you, so we’re left with little choice but to ignore you.

  • 2016-01-23 at 6:32 pm

    Rdj, there was no history of LCPS step/scale raises on BoardDocs for the FY16 budget discussion. You always like to claim it “exists” but then never cite any links/reference. LCPS created it for the FY17 budget discussion in the exact same format it was provided to me in the summer of 2015. Cite a single reference for your claim it was posted on BoardDocs for FY16.

    KenReid, makes perfect sense to me. My elementary school had trailers and it wasn’t a problem. I wonder if the BOS will provide greater oversight over the LCSB this year due to multiple factual errors:

    1. Complete disinformation related to FDK prior to Jan-2016

    2. Overestimating the cost of step increases ($16.8M or 2.5%) for years when the real cost for FY17 is $10.4M

    3. Ignoring the upcoming increased VRS rates. The increased VRS rates ensure teachers’ pensions are fully funded. There is a massive increase coming in FY18 but LCSB doesn’t even mention it. Fairfax is very transparent and lists that increase in their main budget presentation.

    4. Inaccurate data regarding how many teachers are in each salary scale (bachelors, masters, etc.)

    Professionals need to visit the castle and ensure that honest information is given to the BOS and the public.

  • 2016-01-23 at 5:07 pm

    Not at all. That information has been on BoardDocs for a long time, and in fact, I quoted it to you last year, yet you dismissed it, because it didn’t support your narrative at the time. smh.

  • 2016-01-23 at 12:37 pm

    Why Rdj, it looks like you were correct that LCSB posted the info this time (see the Jan 14, 2016 meeting agenda and the QandA 1_15_16.pdf file). It includes the salary increases in the same format that I received per my FOIA request in the last summer of 2015. This is the first time LCPS has posted this info.

    I also noticed that my own salary increase file (posted on Google Drive) compared the FY16 salary to the FY17 salary without compensating for the 1% VRS increase. I stand corrected since it needs to be apples-to-apples. Thus, I uploaded a new file with the FY16 Adj salaries (include all VRS conversions) as the baseline for comparison.

    But note that:

    1. LCPS did not include the overall salary % increases in their presentations. It only came in response to LCSB member questions. And as we’ve seen in previous FOIA responses, LCPS will not produce this information for a general member of the public. When I asked for the aggregate teacher evaluation info (you know, the % of teachers evaluated as “effective” that VDOE required LCPS to report), LCPS would only provide me a single year’s worth of data claiming that other years would require the production of a “new document” and they refused. That single year showed 99.5%+ of teachers were rated “effective”. I have used that document in literally dozens of posts on Diane Ravitch’s and WaPo chat forums to show teachers they all teach in Lake Wobegone. Note that Fairfax includes the annual step increase/salary scale adjustment breakout in the Supt’s presentation to the public/board.

    2. Let’s thank DeKenipp for asking how many teachers were on each scale. I posted earlier that about 2/3 of LCPS teachers had a Masters degree or higher. According to the Q&A from Jan 14, LCPS is claiming that only 15% have Masters degree. I believe this is a mistake. In databases, unique keys (random codes) often have no significance. When LCPS gave me the salary data last summer, they did the absolute minimum required. Thus, I have to decode which “lane’ went with each category. Simple enough but it appeared that the B+30 lane came after all the other categories because it had a larger ID value (doesn’t tell you anything on its own). Here are the database id’s (lane #’s) and what I believe are the corresponding scales. I would suggest LCPS verify and correct their answer in the Q&A.

    Lane ID Scale Name
    1……Tech (not used frequently)

    3. It appears the LCSB is convening another closed meeting to consult with their counsel on Tuesday, Jan 26, 2016. I guess some new board members have reviewed the case law that directly contradicts LCSB actions and some folks are having second thoughts (I don’t know the exact reason for the closed meeting but am willing to bet on it). Informally, one official asked would I consider dropping all complaints against LCSB/LCPS if LCPS dropped the sanctions in the Davison v Hornberger case. I don’t think that’s even possible since it was Judge Irby who tried to deter me from bringing legitimate cases to Loudoun Circuit Court with the sanctions. It was quite clear my sanctions were a penalty to the court so I don’t think LCPS has any say in the matter. But my response was that principles are not for sale. I am confident the sanctions (and the underlying demurrer) will get overturned by the Virginia Supreme Court. But either way, an honorable person doesn’t sell out to avoid some illegitimate fines. If you think the legal costs of representation are the biggest concern of LCPS officials and LCSB members, you are sadly mistaken.

    This is going to play out in slow motion. First, Plowman gets his chance. LCPS attorneys Judkins and DeVita along with PIO Byard will get special attention for their perjury/fraud in this federal case as well since that was the subject of the comments on the LCA page that were deleted. After Plowman is shown to have violated the 1st/14th amendments and Judkins/DeVita/Byard are shown to have committed perjury/fraud, attention will turn to the whole LCSB and individual officials. The list of counts is long in that federal case. And that doesn’t even consider the appeals making their way through Virginia’s courts. LCPS will be under the magnifying glass for months to come.

  • 2016-01-23 at 11:38 am

    $16.5 million is about a tax hike of about 2-3 cents . It might amount to an average increase in tax bills of about $80 a year (based on my memory). But what are the costs of adding classrooms OR adding portables? It’s the capital costs that push it to about $65 million, based on previous estimates., and that does not include debt repayments. So, the public has to ask the question if they want all-day-K. But one solution to the capacity issue is buying or renting portables. There is too much “urban legend” among the School Board and administration top brass that this is too expensive. But Fairfax, Montgomery and other school systems use them largely to save money! In addition, the School Board and the Board of Supervisors need to update the 2010 school capacity and program capacity guidelines. Former Supervisor Clarke and I initiated this in 2012. We discovered that for just $5.6 million — adding 2 classrooms — , we could expand student capacity to 2000 for high schools and 1350 for middle schools — without enlarging the library, gym, cafeteria or other “core facilities.” But it stalled, primarily in my view because some supervisors and School Board members don’t want their constituents to “suffer” with larger schools. But larger schools will save on debt load and bloody attendance boundary changes . It would be well worth revisiting this, and also for elementary schools, too.

  • 2016-01-22 at 11:01 pm

    It’s on BoardDocs in one of the responses to questions that the board had asked the staff. but since when have details gotten in the way of a perfectly good, hollow accusation.

    We have no doubt your latest groundless attempt will suffer the same fate as your three earlier frivolous lawsuits that failed under minor scrutiny from the courts. You’ve been single-handedly causing enough waste of tax dollars that you’ve become a one-man pork barrel.

    Looking the part lately, too.

  • 2016-01-22 at 7:52 pm

    The quote says “They now know what it would cost to provide a full, six-hour school day to every local kindergartener starting this fall” in a self-contained paragraph. That is a false statement.

    The Virginia delegates asked LCSB how much it would cost to provide FDK within 3 years. That’s not “how much if buildings magically appear before our very eyes”. That’s how much it costs to get 100% of your kids into FDK. If we could have all of our buildings for free as we expanded Loudoun schools, we wouldn’t be in debt over $1B, now would we. Maybe the LEA will lease buildings to the taxpayers don’t have to build them? Ok, back to reality.

    Like everything else, Williams and Hornberger refuse to give numbers that are not convenient. I believe Rdj grew up in Fairfax. Take a look at their budget presentation. Not their 250+ page budget, but simply the slides the Supt reads to the board and the public. They have a clear, concise summary of the pay raises the teachers have received over the past 5-6 years. It took numerous FOIA requests (and a trip to court) for me to get that info from LCPS. But LCPS won’t give it to the public. The LCPS raise summary is not in Supt Williams presentation or anywhere on their website. They don’t want the public to know how many raises teachers have received. And they don’t want the public to know that senior teachers (like one in Rdj’s household) get large step increases (~3%) every year.

    They also don’t want you to know that board member spouses are slated for the “sweet spot” of the salary “adjustment” this year. Heck, they don’t even want you to know that board members are voting on budgets in which they have a direct, personal interest (hello Conflict of Interest Act).

    But we have Hornberger, Turgeon, Rose, Morse and Williams. Hard to find a more dishonest bunch. Fairfax has Garza. Big difference.

  • 2016-01-22 at 6:50 pm

    It would have been better if the article stated exactly what we get for $16.5M.

    “Loudoun County is one of three divisions in Virginia that do not offer every kindergartner a full school day…” And yet I keep reading articles about how our graduates excel across the board despite them “only” having 1/2 day kindergarten.

    If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

  • 2016-01-22 at 4:53 pm

    The article is quite clear about what the amount covers, what it doesn’t, and why it cannot include an accurate measure of the CIP expense. Trying to introduce confusion where none exists detracts from the necessary, rational discussion of how this priority ranks against others within our community regarding our schools.

  • 2016-01-22 at 1:11 pm

    Not exactly. The full price tag is what it will cost to build the classrooms and hire the teachers. Otherwise, we could just extend school capacity to our ever-increasing student population without ever paying for more buildings.

    The reason why LCPS officials didn’t want to put a number on the full cost of FDK is because the public might think twice with transparent information. But now that they have articles touting the “price of FDK” at just $16M. I wonder if LoudounNow gets a kickback from Williams and Hornberger for reporting the partial cost as the “price of FDK”?

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