Expected Enrollment Rebound Forms Foundation of School Budget Talks

Loudoun County school administrators are starting their FY 2022 budget work with an expectation of needing a single-year funding increase of $121.5 million.

The School Board was briefed on the budget outlook Monday night. There are many unusual factors in play, including lagging enrollment counts and uncertainty over whether $60 million in schools funding frozen because of the COVID-19 pandemic will be released during FY 2021. 

The Sept. 30 enrollment figures, a count used in the formula for state funding support, came in more than 5% below projections. For the first time, there were 2,671 fewer students than enrolled last year, an anomaly attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic and the division’s pivot to online learning.

“The major driver of this is, of course, more families choosing to home-school their students or perhaps send them to private school,” Assistant Superintendent of Business and Financial Services Sharon Willoughby told the School Board.

Looking ahead to next year, Superintendent Eric Williams is urging the School Board to assume those students will be coming back and that there will be significant growth. He is proposing to base the budget planning on a projected enrollment of 87,619. That’s 1,864 above the original FY21 projection of 85,755—and 6,115 above current enrollment levels. 

“Predicting enrollment is difficult in a normal year, but the pandemic has really compounded how difficult that process is,” Willoughby said.

As part of his strategy to plan for a larger enrollment, Williams said that it would be easier to adjust staffing levels to lower-than-expected student counts than to deal with over enrollment. The first case could result in involuntary teacher transfers and layoffs, but the second scenario would likely result in higher class sizes, he said. 

Using the 87,619 enrollment projection, $26.2 million would be needed to hire additional staff, according to the presentation.

Williams also is eyeing two step increases for employees, one to make up for frozen salaries imposed because of the money held in reserve in the Fiscal Year 2021 budget due to the pandemic, and another for the new year. The make-up step would cost $18.9 million and the Fiscal Year 2022 step would cost $19.5 million, according to the presentation. 

School leaders are hoping the Board of Supervisors will begin releasing reserve funds as early as next month the School Board already has earmarked the earliest released money for pay increases. 

Under real estate tax rate scenarios under consideration by the Board of Supervisors, school administrators are predicting a shortfall in school operations funding next year ranging from $38.1 million to $62.9 million.

The School Board will be asked to provide formal budget planning direction to the staff at its Oct. 27 meeting.

5 thoughts on “Expected Enrollment Rebound Forms Foundation of School Budget Talks

  • 2020-10-20 at 4:16 pm
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    LCPS has accomplished almost nothing for 7 months. They haven’t used gas, or utilities, or most other services. They continued to pay staff full rate, while Loudoun parents are becoming maxed out and the damage to our kids will be felt for years into the future, and now they want a budget increase along with fat raises for themselves?

    In any other arena other than governmnet, performance such as this would see you walked out the door with your box of stuff. We in Loudoun deserve so much better than this.

  • 2020-10-20 at 4:38 pm
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    After 8 years on the school board and chairing the finance committee I watched Dr. Hatrick make meticulous efforts to justify every cent and every program. This fictional demand for substantially more money while not even acknowledging the inappropriate spending for nothing this year should be insulting to the BOS if they even considered control of LCPS as part of their priorities. The school board should be embarrassed they are being given such a plan as it makes their review and responsibilities under state statute 22.1-79 seem impotent. This is sad to watch! 🙂

  • 2020-10-20 at 4:46 pm
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    What is predictable, is that LCPS will overstate projected enrollment. It happens every year. 2020 is no exception.

    LCPS’ budget needs to severely get cut (20%).

  • 2020-10-20 at 9:17 pm
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    Pathetic.

    Williams has no shame.

    His merry band will rubber stamp his funding increase of 121 million without a question. Any of us that post on this board would LAUGH at Williams.

    Does the BOS have the knee caps to say no to this ridiculous increase?

    Stay tuned……

  • 2020-10-23 at 4:03 pm
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    LCPS AND WILLIAMS PERCHED IN THEIR COVID-19-FREE CLOUD CHAMBERS,

    have the gall to claw for a budget increase. This insolence is only matched by the brazen bond referendum money of $123M, to access boatload of even more free cash (AS ALWAYS at your expense and mine).

    PARENTS AND TAXPAPERS SHOULD DEMAND OF BOS 33% REDUCTION IN PROPERTY TAXES SINCE THE BURDEN OF EDUCATION IS EQUALLY SHARED WITH TEACHERS. How is that number derived? Local tax funding is split 66% for LCPS and 34% for the County Government. So, on a $6060 property tax you should receive a rebate of $2000, an ample amount for a RELAXED, STRESS-FREE online homeschool curriculum for two children.

    **Corollary demand: the LCPS BUDGET SHOULD BE SLASHED BY HALF.**

    WHY? — Less use of physical facilities like buildings, equipment, computers, hvac etc., therefore less wear and tear and maintenance costs and should need less labor

    — Benefits of physical assets and in building services have been reduced to students and therefore provide less value to their education

    — All group activities (e.g. sports) are basically non-existent and so their associated costs are also greatly reduced.

    — By being virtual, the labor pool is essentially nationwide, we should be able to hire teachers that work virtually from outside Loudoun County and in fact, outside the state for the time being where they are willing to accept lower wages due to lower cost of living as long as they have a good internet connection.

    **ATTENTION PARENTS OF PREVIOUS AND CURRENT LCPS STUDENTS!**
    If you are RIGHTEOUS, gutsy, and gifted in leadership, you should consider (please!!) running against the current LCSB SUPERIORS (or who act like they are) — just for 4 years. Loudoun needs you—to dismiss Williams. Miserable parents are begging for your relief!! Our poor but CUTE LCPS kids depend on you!!!

    AS FOR THE SCHOOL BOND REFERENDUM, we can afford to wait to expand school capacity and build new facilities, and CONVENIENCES FOR THE SUPERIORS. ☹ (To learn more about THE SELFLESS, SUPREME Board Member and Superintendent Lord Jesus Christ— the antithesis being LCSB/LCPS/Williams–read Luke 1-24 at Biblehub.com.)

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