Letter: Elizabeth Hedges, Lovettsville

Editor: I am writing in response to Matt Chwalowski’s letter criticizing the Superintendent of Schools for asking for $15 more from every household.

We have an excellent school system in Loudoun, which is an asset to everyone who lives here. The quality of the schools attracts economic development, which increases our property values.

Some of the increased funding request is going to improving mental health services to our students. This is to help reduce drug abuse, depression, violence, and suicide among students. This is a very deserving need.

Another area where funding is needed is increasing the pay of school bus drivers. In past years, the county Board of Supervisors approved many new houses on 1 to 10 acre lots. This type of development eats up agricultural land and natural beauty, and is expensive to provide services such as school transportation, public safety, and road maintenance. Right now the county is short more than 100 bus drivers. The only way to attract drivers is to increase the pay.

We also need to increase teacher pay to retain skilled teachers. Many of our teachers cannot afford to live in Loudoun on a teacher’s salary.

Loudoun still does not provide full-day kindergarten to all students, one of only three jurisdictions in Virginia that cannot fully fund all-day kindergarten. This is astounding when you consider that Loudoun’s median income is the highest in the U.S. for counties over 65,000 in population.

The population of Loudoun County has increased 20 percent between 2010 and 2015. That is a lot of new residents who will need schools, libraries, fire stations, and public safety coverage. Providing these needed services is expensive.

Tax money used for education is an investment in the future, because in a few short years these students will be adults. I would much rather see my tax dollars going toward schools than jails, which cost a lot more per capita than education.

Elizabeth Hedges, Lovettsville

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