School Board OKs $252.9M Bond Question

Along with choosing the next president, Loudoun voters will be asked to green light a hefty $252.93 million in bonds for school projects at the polls this November.

That’s more than usual.

New county fiscal policy requires that the bond referendum be approved prior to the appropriation to Loudoun County Public Schools. That’s a change from previous practice, where funds were appropriated in July and then in November the funds went for referendum, according to E. Leigh Burden, the school system’s assistant superintendent of financial services.

In other words, voters will be asked to approve funding for two years worth of projects: six for fiscal year 2017 and one in fiscal year 2018.

“This will be a larger amount. We want to make sure that everybody understands this is a transition year,” Burden told the School Board at its May 24 meeting. “So it’s a larger amount, but it will level back off.”

The county finance committee has recommended the same thing to the Board of Supervisors, in addition to recommending county projects on the referendum.

The projects slated for funding in fiscal year 2017 are: a Dulles South elementary school (ES-28) for $38.77 million, classroom additions in Dulles North and Dulles South area schools for $16.32 million, a Dulles South area middle school (MS-7) for $60.82 million, converting C.S. Monroe Technology Center into an alternative school for $1.75 million, the Loudoun County High School Naval JROTC facility for $3.13 million, and classroom trailers for Dulles North and Dulles South schools for $1.48 million.

Just one school project is scheduled for funding in fiscal year 2018: the Dulles South area high school (HS-9) for $130.66 million.

“To be clear, this is not voter approval of the project, rather voter approval of the funding source,” Burden said.

The School Board adopted a resolution June 7 to request that the Board of Supervisors, through Loudoun’s Circuit Court, place the bond referendum on the ballot. The overwhelming majority of voters in Loudoun typically support school bonds.

The referendum will also now bundle similar projects, such as school projects, with generalized language in referendum questions that will give the county leeway to shift money among similar projects.

Finance committee vice chairman Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn) said this gives the county needed flexibility, such as if one school construction project becomes stalled and another must be accelerated. County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) argued bundling school projects protects smaller projects in the west, where she said voting on individual projects could allow more numerous voters in the east to stop schools in the west.

If approved by the Board of Supervisors, the November referendum will also include funding for the Ashburn Recreation and Community Center; the Station 20 Leesburg Volunteer Fire Department station expansion; the Lovettsville Fire Station replacement; Shellhorn Road; intersection improvements at Braddock Road, Supreme Drive, and Summerall Drive; and the Route 7/Route 690 interchange; and, a last-minute addition, the Hal and Berni Hanson Regional Park. It will authorize issuing bonds to cover up to $344,685,000 in capital expenses.

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