Editor: On April 4, the Board of Supervisors may vote to shortchange the Loudoun County Public Schools budget for the seventh time in eight years. Despite miraculously finding the money in 2015 (an election year, by the way) to fully fund the schools’ budget request, we’ve seen cuts exceeding $117 million over the past five years.
Comparing the increased budget request for this year against enrollment growth is an oversimplification of the financial hole the school system needs to dig itself out of after so many lean years. Now we have millions of dollars in deferred maintenance and staffing decreases that need to be restored. According to the Washington Area Boards of Education Guide for 2017, Loudoun County has the second lowest spending per pupil in Northern Virginia. The county with the highest median income in the country still doesn’t have full day kindergarten. This perpetual belt-tightening is penny wise and pound foolish.
In a year of revenue growth, it makes financial sense to recover and strengthen the school system, along with the rest of the county government. A two-cent tax cut, in the face of these needs, seems short-sighted and perhaps even reckless. A more cautious approach would be to adopt the advertised rate of 1.14 (a modest decrease), or even the balanced tax rate of 1.135. Either rate would allow the Board to fully fund the LCPS budget request this year.
If we can afford to reduce taxes this year, the county should also take this opportunity to recover from leaner years and allow the school system to do the same.
Lisa Gillespie, Leesburg