Loudoun Supervisors Criticize School System After Funding Request

Supervisors on the county finance committee have been sharply critical of the School Board’s request for additional funding for school buses and textbooks, saying that request indicates poor planning.

As the time nears to decide how to allocate money left over from last year’s budget, requests have begun coming in. The surplus customarily is used to supplement shortfalls in the next year’s budget or to fund one-time requests.

The School Board has asked for almost $7.5 million from the fund balance, including $4 million to purchase 34 buses, $1.5 million for textbooks and digital learning resources, and $1.9 million for a synthetic turf field at Heritage High School.

In a letter from School Board Chairman Eric Hornberger (Ashburn), the School Board explains the money would allow the schools to request 26 new buses in next year’s budget, rather than a planned 60 new buses. Hornberger also wrote that it would decrease the School Board’s request for textbook money, but an assessment of what the school division will need in the future is still ongoing. The last textbook upgrade, he said, was in fiscal year 2006.

The School Board customarily includes some explanation of what it plans with to do with the money alongside its budget requests, but the Board of Supervisors cannot dictate what the school division does with the money once it has been transferred.

“To come and say they need a chunk of cash for textbooks is a little bewildering to me,” said board Vice Chairman Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn). “I’ll just say it—that is piss-poor planning.” He said the request indicated “really lousy management.”

“To me, it should be a cost of doing business in your budget every year, with a strategy of replacement, not a ‘we need this big lump sum of change all of a sudden to bail us out because we didn’t replace textbooks,’” Buona said.

County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) agreed that “it just seems like something went awry in some planning at some point.”

“Is it not part of their budget every year to have regular maintenance of your buses?” she asked, referencing an incident in September when a fuel leak on a bus caused the bus to start smoking, forcing 32 students to evacuate. “I mean, this is safety for the kids.”

The county expects to have $30-$35 million available in the fund balance, and County Administrator Tim Hemstreet said he would probably recommend the majority of that be set aside for use in the fiscal year 2018 budget. That fund balance is about half of last year’s $63 million surplus, and the county budget office is projecting a $57 million revenue shortfall in next year’s budget at the current tax rates.

rgreene@loudounnow.com
@RenssGreene

6 thoughts on “Loudoun Supervisors Criticize School System After Funding Request

  • 2016-11-19 at 4:51 pm
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    I have lived here ALL MY LIFE! I was here when Loudoun was HICKVILLE and proud of it. I lived thru Reston being built, No traffic lights on Rte. 7, Tyson’s being built. I remember Rte, 7 was 2 lanes! 1 lane was eastbound, the other lane was Westbound. I remember when Loudoun was so excited about becoming part of the D.C. Metro Area that they forgot to consider the MAJOR consequences. “I” have asked the School Board and the Board of Supervisors to WORK TOGETHER for years.
    When new businesses moved in, it brought many un-thought of problems that needed to be considered from the beginning. Our Family People did not recognize this and just did what the “new people” wanted. Without consideration of what would happen, they allowed house after house, subdivision after subdivision, business after business to take over the control. NO ONE considered the amount of change that needed to go hand in hand with this growth.
    Businesses SHOULD have been expected to help, financially, from the start. Developers SHOULD have been held responsible for New Schools, Roads, and up-keep FROM the BEGINNING! And NOW we are stuck.
    DON’T TAKE OUT THE STUPIDITY of THE PAST LOUDOUN COUNTY BOARD of SUPERVISORS on LCPS! Instead, start working together to plan for future entities to pay their way when they move here. As far as waste of money, WHY WOULD THERE BE A CHOICE BETWEEN BOOKS and TURF? Seems to me to be a NO-BRAINIER! Or has this county gotten to the point of NOT caring about our True purpose, “OUR KIDS” and The Future of this County/Country? Instead of making fun of our Transportation System
    LOUDOUN COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS needs to ADMIT that they screwed up and WORK WITH LOUDOUN COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS to figure out how to address the issues at hand.
    If you notice, Loudoun and Loudoun are supposed to be working for the same team.
    The Future of The Country depends on this. Our Kids ARE the Future!!!!
    P.S. To the school board member that stated that their only purpose was in the education of NOT the Safe Transportation of the students is THE ONLY CONCERN: PLEASE FORWARD YOUR RESIGNATION. WE DON’T NEED PEOPLE LIKE YOU WORKING FOR US!

  • 2016-11-19 at 8:11 am
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    I have been saying it for years and will continue the School Board has been out of control for decades with their spending in this county. Maybe it is time someone ponies up the cash and did a full audit of the school board and see where the money really is. Look at the take home cars, the poor school bus system. Maybe they can explain why Potomac Falls had to have emergency money for a new locker room. These are all things that should be in the budget on a year to year basis. The County Executive said we’re going to be $50,000,000 short this year and the School Board wants $90,000,000 more. I am not a mathematician, but that is a huge gap and the “Poor Kids” can’t be left behind.

  • 2016-11-18 at 3:17 pm
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    Let me explain what happened to Supervisors Buona and Randall. It’s not just poor planning. It’s political malpractice.

    The last couple of boards have been adamantly against Common Core. Virginia has the SOLs which were supposed to be “different” than Common Core. But the feds told VDOE around 2010 they needed to upgrade the SOLs toward the Common Core standards of applied skills and critical thinking or else Virginia wouldn’t get as much federal money. VDOE complied and the test scores took a big dive based on the new more rigorous standards. But since all states have essentially upgraded their standards, the only textbooks available are all essentially Common Core textbooks.

    Enter the know-nothing school board. Ideologically against Common Core (even though they don’t understand it), they stopped purchasing text books. But the old textbooks didn’t include the more conceptual lessons needed to pass the SOLs. So our schools have simply NOT been using textbooks at nearly any level. Of course, AP classes must have textbooks because you have a test. But kids just get “worksheets” each day. They can’t review old material or look ahead. They are not being taught to study by themselves. It is educational malpractice.

    Don’t just listen to me. At a math forum in 2015, the only other parent in attendance asked the Stone Hill middle school principal and Asst Supt Ambrose why kids don’t get issued textbooks. (I have a recording if anybody questions the interaction) The principal put some nonsense answer up but the parent pushed back (her kid was in middle school and received no textbooks). I assume that Ambrose was shocked at the incompetence she inherited in LCPS and set about to rectify that in 2016-2017.

    Yes, textbooks should be an annual cost. So should buses (as Kuesters tried to implement an annual budget for upgrading/maintaining buses). But when you have our school board managed by the economically illiterate Eric Hornberger, what do you expect?

  • 2016-11-18 at 2:46 pm
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    The BoS needs to tell the SB to go pound sand. Actually, it looks like they did.

    LCPS continues with the same tricks despite the departure of Hatrick. That’s unfortunate.

      • 2016-11-23 at 8:25 am
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        David has posted previously and frequently that he does not believe in publically funded education. His positions are all about not paying taxes at all, with no regard to the consequences such as crumbling roads and illiterate adults.

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