Assistant Superintendent E. Leigh Burden is leaving her post overseeing Loudoun County school system’s finances to take a similar position with Fairfax County Public Schools.
Burden has served as the assistant superintendent of Business and Financial Services for Loudoun County Public Schools since 2007. She has been responsible for leading all financial operations, including budgeting, accounting, purchasing, payroll, and employee benefits for more than 14,000 employees, and directing the preparation and administration of a $1.1 billion budget.
She will start her new role as assistant superintendent of Fairfax County schools’ Financial Services Department on March 8.
Burden described the move as bitter-sweet. “Because I love Loudoun. I can honestly say that,” she said. “It has been a great opportunity to work with Dr. Williams and the School Board. They have varying priorities but they all have a common goal of improving the education of students of Loudoun County.”
Taking the job as an assistant superintendent in Fairfax County is a promotion opportunity, Burden said. That school system, just east of Loudoun, is projected to enroll 189,724 this fall, and Burden will be tasked with managing an operating budget of $2.9 billion.
Plus, she added, her commute will improve. She and her family live in Fairfax County; her son attends high school there.
“It will be nice to work and live in the same community,” she said.
Burden is known for her humorous budget presentations. She often infuses a joke or two, and a touch of sarcasm, into the otherwise number-heavy, late-night budget meetings.
“Your budget presentations are always my favorite,” School Board member Jill Turgeon (Blue Ridge) told Burden when she presented at a Jan. 11 meeting.
In a prepared statement, Fairfax County Superintendent Scott S. Brabrand described Burden as a seasoned professional in the field of public school financial services. “Her proficient skill set and broad background in budget and finance will enable her to hit the ground running in the midst of our [fiscal year 2019] budget planning and approval season,” he stated. “Working with our new chief operating officer Marty Smith, Ms. Burden will continue to prepare a cost-effective, transparent budget to best serve our students. We welcome her back to FCPS and look forward having her as part of the Leadership Team.”
Burden leaves Loudoun just as the bulk of the school system’s budget work for next fiscal year has wrapped up. The School Board will likely need to undergo some reconciliation in early April to trim its adopted budget if county, state and federal revenues come in below its request.
“I’m leaving my department in excellent hands,” Burden said. “The leadership in the department is talented and strong. I’m confident their exemplary work will continue despite my departure.”
Burden is the second assistant superintendent to leave Loudoun for Fairfax in recent years. In 2012, Assistant Superintendent of Support Services Jeff Platenberg left to oversee the same department in Fairfax.
Loudoun school system leadership will begin the applicant search to hire a new assistant superintendent.