Loudoun County Public Schools could need as much as $94.1 million more next fiscal year to keep up with student growth and maintain the current level of service, according to division budget leaders.
That’s above the current budget of $1.06 billion.
Loudoun’s School Board got its first glimpse of what could be in store for the county’s public schools in fiscal year 2018 at its meeting Tuesday, almost five months before Superintendent Eric Williams unveils his recommended spending plan.
“It’s too early to provide firm data for fiscal 2018,” Assistant Superintendent for Financial Services E. Leigh Burden said. “But we’ve attempted to provide some broad projections so that everyone has early understanding of the potential needs for LCPS.”
She told the board to brace for $26.7 million in new expenditures just related to student growth. Early forecasts estimate 80,700 students, about 2,085 or 2.6 percent more than this school year. Her office will have a more accurate estimate once the 2016-2017 enrollment count is done next month.
The projections also include $1.8 million for new positions; $17.8 million for step increases/pay raises—2.2 percent on average; $9.1 million to continue the board’s efforts to make mid-career teachers’ pay more competitive; $2.9 million for raises for other employees not eligible for step increases; $10 million in required contributions to the Virginia Retirement System; $8 million for increased health care costs; and $7.8 million for new buses and other fleet vehicles.
It is also estimated it would cost $5 million to expand full-day kindergarten offerings to 75 percent of the county.
The budget outlook also includes two “placeholders”: $4 million for any costs related to implementing the School Board’s adopted strategic plan, known as Vision 20/20, and $1 million for positions that were cut from recent years’ budgets that the board may want to reinstate, such as middle school deans and technology assistants.
On the revenue side, Burden said it’s too early to know how much the school division will receive from the county, its largest funder. But she predicts minimal change in revenue from the federal level, and as much as $19.8 million more from the state.
As she always does when providing budget projections this far in advance, Burden offered a strong caveat to the board: “The information is only to illustrate to potential expenditures,” she said. “These items may or may not be included in the superintendent’s recommended budget—they are not recommendations—and the potential expenditures should not be interpreted as a recommended change in the budget.”
This week, the board also discussed the potential schedule for its budget season. Staff is proposing that the superintendent present his budget recommendations Jan. 12 and the board adopt a budget Feb. 2. The board is slated to finalize its budget schedule at its Sept. 13 meeting.