In all, Superintendent Eric Williams and his administration team wants to add the budgetary equivalent of 316 full-time positions to Loudoun County’s public schools.
The new personnel make up most of the new expenditures in $1.284 billion operating budget the superintendent is recommending for the 90-school division next fiscal year. Williams and Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Ashley Ellis had a chance to defend some of those additions to the School Board during a budget work session Tuesday.
About 93 of those full-time equivalent positions are new teachers, teachers assistants, deans, and other positions—all tied with enrollment growth, which is expected to expand by 1,277 students. Twenty-five of the positions are additional staff at the new Waxpool Elementary School and the two new future high schools, Independence and Lightridge.
The superintendent’s plan requests five dean positions to provide one for every elementary school with more than 675 students. This addition comes just a few years after the School Board voted to cut deans at the middle schools when faced with a tight budget year. They later restored those positions when middle school principals said just how much they were needed.
Ellis explained that providing a dean position was the number one request of elementary principals. “This dean would provide invaluable leadership support, allowing the principals to focus on instructional leadership. They also foster a safety and security of schools, particularly at the elementary level where there are no school resources officers.”
Williams hopes to earmark $200,000 to improve equity and cultural competence throughout the school system. Half of those funds would create a new position, equity and cultural competence specialist, and the other half would fund the development of equity and cultural competence curriculum.
“We’ve heard loud and clear that cultural competence training is a need, and we expect to make significant progress in this area next year,” Ellis said.
The proposed budget also requests five additional athletic trainers, who would work across the 16 high schools. Ellis explained, “We have seen changes in high school athletics—more teams, more non-traditional seasons with athletes practicing over the summer and winter breaks. All these are leading to more events where trainers are needed to ensure the safety of our students.”
As the school system continues to roll out new teaching models countywide, including project-based and personalized learning, Williams and Ellis want to add more “division instruction facilitators.” Right now, the division has one instruction facilitator for every five schools; the superintendent would like to add seven more facilitators to move that ratio to one facilitator for every four elementary schools, and one facilitator for every three middle and three high schools.
Under the superintendent’s plan, the Academies of Loudoun would also get 15.5 new full-time equivalent positions. Those include nine more teachers at the Academy of Engineering and Technology, 3.5 at the Academy of Science, and one more teacher at the Monroe Advanced Technology Academy, to lower class sizes and give students more course options.
He is also proposing a teacher who can oversee the makerspace, which Assistant Superintendent Ashley Ellis said is currently under-utilized. “Because it’s not a space where you can just have a class go in and tinker. They need guidance and supervision.”
Another new position, admissions outreach specialist, would work year-round with counselors at middle and high schools, hold student and parent information sessions, and develop materials “to ensure students have equal access to apply and be admitted to classes at the Academies,” Ellis said.
To help provide more computer science offerings at every school, the proposed budget calls for three new computer science facilitators. The long-term goal is to integrate computer science and computational thinking across all content areas at the elementary, middle and high school levels.
Other staff enhancements include a dance and theater arts teacher to staff the new performing arts school, should it get approved; three more math facilitators; and five more gifted teachers to transition gifted education from regional programs to school-based programs.
The School Board will continue working through the superintendent’s recommended spending plan over the next four weeks. In addition to several work sessions, the School Board will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24, at the school administration building, 21000 Education Court in Ashburn. The board is scheduled to present its adopted budget to the Board of Supervisors as a formal funding request Feb. 11.