$1.5B Budget Proposed for Loudoun Schools in FY 2022

Interim Superintendent Scott Zeigler on Thursday presented the School Board with a proposed $1.5 billion FY 2022 school budget that envisions a return to classroom normalcy as well as an expansion of online learning programs.

The budget seeks $187.5 million and the hiring of 587.5 fulltime equivalent employees above the adopted FY 2021 budget.

However, the budget the School Board adopted last April was stripped of $60 million and more than 200 staff positions as county supervisors established a $100 million reserve at the outset of the pandemic. The county board already has voted to release half of that holdback—money that primarily will be used to provide raises for county and school workers. The remainder of the escrowed funds are expected to be released before the end of the fiscal year, June 30.

When compared with the pre-pandemic budget, the proposed school spending plan requires a 9.3% funding increase. It would require $101.6 million more in local tax funding, a 10.7% increase.

As proposed, the plan would require the largest percentage of local funding of any budget since FY 2009—69.9%. Over the past 10 years, local funding on average has provided 66.8% of school funding.

If the Board of Supervisors in April adopts an equalized tax rate—one that on average keeps property owners’ tax bills level—schools expect to face a $7 million shortfall. If supervisors add one cent to that tax rate, the shortfall falls to $1.4 million, according to information provided to the School Board on Thursday.

Key elements of the proposed budget include a 3.5% pay hike for school employees at a cost of $63.3 million, an expansion of summer school programs to support students who have fallen behind during the school closures, and a greater investment in the Virtual Loudoun online classroom platform for students who have performed better virtually. The budget also includes $3 million and 13 new staff positions that would be required if the School Board opts to authorize collective bargaining with employee unions, an option authorized by the General Assembly starting this year.

The School Board will dive more deeply into the spending proposal during five planned work sessions before a scheduled adoption vote Feb. 2.

Questions raised by School Board members during Thursday’s presentation focused on the staff’s enrollment projections.

The current budget was based on expectations of 85,755 students. But during the pandemic and the pivot to primarily distance learning, only 81,500 students enrolled—more than 2,250 fewer students than last year.

The proposed budget is based on an enrollment of 87,600 students—assuming the 1,400 kindergarteners whose parents postponed their entry into the system and the families who opted for homeschooling will return along with growth from the arrival of new families.

Zeigler said the staff is very confident in the projections.

School Board members weren’t so sure.

Ian Serotkin (Blue Ridge) described the enrollment projections as optimistic and said he believes it could take two or three years to completely rebound from the pandemic.

Beth Barts (Leesburg) said she does not expect families with elementary school students who opted for home school this year to return in large numbers.

John Beatty (Catoctin) also raised doubts about a quick enrollment bounce back.

Enrollment levels are not just important to determine staffing levels, but also determines how much funding is allocated by the state government.

The School Board will begin its detailed budget review on Tuesday.

6 thoughts on “$1.5B Budget Proposed for Loudoun Schools in FY 2022

  • 2021-01-08 at 10:20 am

    The schools aren’t open and they want more money? What happened to the money the schools saved by not being open such as custodians and school bus drivers? We should reduce the budget and share some of the money with private schools who stayed open during the pandemic. The online learning is not working and yet they ask for more money. Can you do a poor jib at work and expect a raise? No, so how it is they can do a poor job and request more money. We are in a pandemic, many people are out of work, many businesses are closing, what we need is a tax decrease to put more money in peoples pockets and get the economy going strong. Many companies are laying people off and the new job rate was negative for the first time in several months. Wake up people, the economy is fragile.

  • 2021-01-08 at 11:35 am

    LCPS’s projected enrollment is purposefully overinflated in order to get an overinflated budget. LCPS overinflates enrollment year after year for the purpose of deceiving the public into thinking LCPS needs more money than it actually does. I’d like to see a chart of what LCPS projected versus actual enrollment over the past 5 years.

    LCPS has been an airplane on fire falling out of the sky for the past couple of years. Many, many kids are not going back.

    They should start with a 20% budget cut, which will be closer to reality.

    • 2021-01-09 at 9:51 am

      Good question. I keep a spreadsheet summarizing each year’s budget and projections. In the spring of 2017, LCPS projected it would have 86.5K students for FY21. In 2018, the projection for FY21 was 86.8K. In 2020, the FY21 projection was 85.8K students. How many students did we actually have in FY21 (Sep 2020)? Only 81,504 student. That’s between 5%-6% fewer than they consistently projected. To put that into perspective, if we reduced the LCPS budget by 5%, that would be equal to a $75M cut in funding. LCPS intentionally exaggerates and lies about its budget every single year.

  • 2021-01-09 at 2:20 am

    Elections have consequences. Vote for DEMs on the school board, and watch as spending increases and extremist propaganda is forced on our children.

    Or, take back the school board. Make it responsive to parents. Fight for better education and school choice.

  • 2021-01-09 at 10:00 am

    Let’s review the facts:

    1. We are in the midst of the pandemic where most employees will not receive a raise last year or this year (and possibly not for future years).

    2. LCPS has the LOWEST vacancy rate in the state and one of the highest retention rates in the state (highest in the region).

    3. Retirements and resignations dropped a whopping 34% this past year as LCPS staff are desperate to keep their cushy jobs.

    4. Most LCPS teachers have received massive raises over the past 5 years of between 30-40%. Consider a Step 14 teacher for FY22 who was a Step 9 teacher in FY17. This teacher received a cumulative 35% raise ($21K) over those 5 years or an average of 7% per year. A typical Step 14 teacher is 37 years old earning $96K for only 185 days/year of work. No industry gives out raises like this, much less one that is flooded with applicants (only 1 of 6 qualified applicants gets a job offer at LCPS).

    Many states pay teachers about half as much as Loudoun. Those states’ teachers go on strike to get a 5% raise when we have crooked school board members regularly giving out 7% raises. This article is misleading because the 3.5% scale increase is on top of an average 2.2% step increase giving teachers on average a total raise of nearly 6% during the middle of a pandemic! Grossly obscene, especially to the small business owners working more than 2x the hours any teacher puts in with devastating loss on revenue/income. Their taxes will be raises to pay for these selfish, greedy teachers.

    The dirty secret is that everyone, especially the teachers and school board, knows these teachers wouldn’t receive half as much if parents could walk with vouchers. Such a monopoly is illegal in the private sector. Why do we allow these socialist schemes (forced public schools) in education?

  • 2021-01-10 at 9:39 am

    Let’s ask a more serious question than should the budge go up or down. The state statute AUTHORIZING school boards in the first place (22.1-79) REQUIRES “utmost efficiency” in the management of schools. Was this done or is our school board openly and flagrantly flaunting the LAW? Do you bargain with law breakers or take them out of their positions of freedom if criminal and of power if elected? Demand an AUDIT of 2020 and if the budget was spent in any fashion that was not clearly in the vein of utmost efficiency then the BOS should clamp down on approvals or else be complicit with the theft of tax dollars against the law. Both general counsels of the school board and the BOS should seriously think about their job justification if they don’t inform their boards of the law. In my opinion as both a lawyer and former 8 year school board member this issue needs to be addressed prior to any more budget increase approvals or else this process is nothing more than a political charade which Loudoun deserves better. 🙂

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