The Loudoun Board of Supervisors will wrap its public hearing on the proposed fiscal year 2017 county budget tonight, with a third and final session in the boardroom in Leesburg starting at 6 p.m.
The supervisors’ second hearing was held Saturday at the School Administration Building in Broadlands where some speakers encouraged full funding of the record-setting $1 billion school budget and others called for holding taxes down.
The largest delegation among the 27 speakers, however, wasn’t specifically concerned with the tax rate. Instead, they championed “school equity.”
Student athletes from Heritage High School and their parents—all clad in red shirts— lined up to urge supervisors to accelerate the installation of artificial turf fields at their 20-year-old campus. Currently, the high school is scheduled for the sports field upgrade in 2022.
Students said the condition of the grass fields increases the chance of injury and limits the ability of teams to practice. The school has resorted to renting artificial turf fields at private facilities, but that has hurt students because the extra travel and scheduling takes time away from their studies, several speakers said. Heritage teams that can’t practice as often as their competitors are at a disadvantage on the field during games and when it comes opportunities to continue their athletic careers at the college level.
Heritage Athletic Director Ron Petrella noted that the Virginia High School League now permits year-round training for teams, including up to 60 practices. That’s
something that is not possible at his high school because of the lack of artificial turf facilities. He also pointed out that other Loudoun high schools, including Potomac Falls and Park View, have jumped ahead in the line for field upgrades because county supervisors directed extra money to paid for them—money he described as coming from the “turf fairy.” He urged supervisors to find some of that magic dust to address Heritage’s field problems more quickly.
Other issues addressed by speakers during Saturday’s hearing included traffic safety concerns at John Champe High School, the need to increase the number of counselors available to work with students, support for funding at the county’s libraries and calls to continue funding for gifted and talented programs.