Loudoun School Board Asks Supervisors to ‘Look Again’ at Budget Request

School leaders want county Board of Supervisors to consider sending a bit more cash their way next fiscal year.

Supervisors have wrapped up straw poll votes on the fiscal year 2018 budget, adopting a total operating budget of $1.728 billion and agreeing to send $748 million of that to public schools. That would be a 7.65 percent increase in local funding over the current fiscal year, but it still leaves the school system $5.5 million short of its request.

The School Board voted last night to ask supervisors to find an additional $1.9 million for the school system to purchase 16 additional buses.

Supervisors have agreed to fund 44 buses of the 60 the School Board says it needs. Through straw votes, supervisors earmarked $5.26 million to pay for 44 of those using unspent county funds from the previous fiscal year. A new bus costs about $120,000.

Superintendent Eric Williams said that supervisors essentially have two pots of money to pull the $1.9 million from: unspent dollars from the previous fiscal year or to include the buses in next fiscal year’s Capital Improvement Program.

“The critical issue here is that we get to 60 buses to make our replacement cycle,” School Board member Eric Hornberger (Ashburn) said. That means older buses are transporting students, increasing safety concerns and maintenance costs.

Jill Turgeon (Blue Ridge) and Debbie Rose (Algonkian) voted against the measure. “It’s almost like we’re asking them, ‘oh, please look again,’” Turgeon said.

“To a certain extent, it is a request to ask them to look again,” Williams responded.

He said he has spoken with County Administrator Tim Hemstreet and County Attorney Leo Rogers about the request. “The county attorney did say that by making a request it places it on the Board of Supervisors’ agenda. … So the intent is to just make them aware.

E. Leigh Burden, assistant superintendent of Financial Services, cut to the chase: “Basically we’re trying to whittle away at the $5.5 million so we have to reconcile less. … If we can get things funded in other ways, then that’s less that we have to cut.”

dnadler@loudounnow.com
twitter.com/danielle_nadler

3 thoughts on “Loudoun School Board Asks Supervisors to ‘Look Again’ at Budget Request

  • 2017-03-29 at 12:29 pm
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    Look again and then cut their budget. Send a message to LCPS to stop the incessant whining.

  • 2017-03-29 at 4:41 pm
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    We all have to live within our family budgets, even if we have to ‘trim the fat OR the lean’ as it applies. The county and the school board needs to do the same. I’m sure the school board can find somewhere to cut some expenses to meet what they deem ‘needed’ for safely reasons. There is always an excuse every year as to why the school board needs SO much more money than the previous year, and it is usually posed as something that will get people’s attention and sound ‘so scary to them’ – like ‘it will increase class size’ or in this case ‘it will impact the safety of students being transported’. Will it really? Likely these buses will be sold to someone who will run them for several years to come, along with converting them into some other form than a bus to transport students (Tiny home? Recreational vehicle? Church bus?). While the buses are on a schedule for being replaced, I am not convinced they really need to be replaced as soon as the schedule ‘dictates’. Even while many folks trade in their cars at or before 100,000 miles, they can run, and run well, up to (and possibly beyond) 275,000 miles if they are taken care of and maintained. I know the buses are taken care of and maintained by the school transportation dept, so I am surprised they cannot get by with not HAVING to replace 60 buses next year just because the schedule dictates as such. Being ‘on a schedule’ for replacement does not mean it is truly necessary.

  • 2017-03-29 at 6:21 pm
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    How many kids ride the buses per year. Then let us divide that number into 56 million dollars to see what it cost per child per day. Could always charge a dollar a day to offset the additional buses?

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