Superintendent Eric Williams has proposed cuts to fill the $14.9 million difference between what the School Board requested and what the county Board of Supervisors designated in its fiscal year 2019 budget.
Williams proposed cuts to next year’s school budget to make up that difference Thursday night. Those cuts are not expected to affect class sizes, efforts to increase mental health services for students, increases in school security, or the expansion of full-day kindergarten offerings to every Loudoun family.
They would, however, cut 30.5 new positions from the School Board’s budget request. No current staff members would lose jobs to the cuts.
Teachers would see smaller-than-hoped-for raises. Williams has proposed cutting teacher salary enhancements by $1.3 million to $16.5 million. The across-the-board increase in the compensation of employees not on the teacher salary schedule would decrease from 1.3 percent to 1.2 percent.
Williams’ proposals would also see the addition of 164.5 new teaching positions to keep up with the growing student population. Ten new elementary school teachers have been cut from that number after a closer look at new school attendance zones. Those changes are not expected to affect class sizes.
The school system would hire 17 new positions at the Academies of Loudoun, five fewer than originally proposed.
The new budget would also preserve 12.7 new positions teaching English language learners, as well as a new counselor at the Welcome Center for English Learners. However, a new Virtual Loudoun English Learner teacher and a division-level clerical position to support the program would stay part-time, rather than be promoted to full time.
Schools would not see a proposed $2 increase in the per-pupil allotment for instructional materials.
The school system would cut one special education dean for the high schools, seeing only three. The school system would still hire 40.1 more special education teachers.
The Douglass School, the school system’s Center of Alternative Education, would see one position cut. The school would hire one teacher rather than two, and that teacher would be funded by cutting a vacant counselor position.
The school system would also cut six new custodial positions. Williams proposes to move ahead with the school system’s $2 million plan to catch up on replacing old textbooks, although a funding source has not been finalized.
The School Board will hold a work session on those revisions with public comments at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 19. The board is scheduled to adopt its revised fiscal year 2019 budget Tuesday, April 24.
County supervisors set the school system’s total appropriations for next fiscal year’s operating budget at about $1.187 billion, $797.4 million of which is from county tax dollars. County Administrator Tim Hemstreet’s proposed transfer to the schools was $10.8 million short of what the School Board had requested; supervisors cut the real estate tax rate by half a penny per hundred dollars of assessed value by carving $4.1 million from that proposal. That still left the school system with $49.5 million more in local dollars than the current fiscal year, an increase of more than 6 percent.
Cutting that tax rate a half cent will save the average taxpayer $23.16 over the next year, or $1.93 a month.
The school system could still see more funding from the state, depending on the results of the General Assembly’s special session, which is in progress. The state legislature is still working to adopt a budget.