School Board Cuts $21M in Final Budget

The School Board reconciled the $1.456 billion fiscal year 2023 budget on Tuesday, closing a $21 million funding gap while facing uncertainty about the state’s budget with a unanimous vote.

The final budget includes $2.4 million for fine arts stipends, cause for celebration for the two dozen supporters of the performing arts who waited in the boardroom for the budget to be adopted.

The budget also allows for a continency plan with considerations for possible outcomes from the state’s yet-to-be completed budget process. 

The biggest question remains teacher raises, which were slated to be an average of 5% through cost-of-living adjustments and step increases. The staff recommended the elimination of a 2.5% cost of living adjustment, leaving teachers with only a step increase. Step increases would be an average of 2.5%, and teachers at the top of their scales would receive a one-time 1% bonus.

Superintendent Scott Ziegler said during the board’s May 19 work session that it is likely that once the state finalizes its budget, the COLA will be added back into the budget.

“Most scenarios are the state would provide enough,” he said, “we’re just waiting for the final numbers there.”

Chairman Jeff Morse (Dulles) interpreted the recommendation as an effort to achieve funding equality among activities.

“We’re trying to fix the tides for all boats. We can’t fix the tide for some boats and not the others. They’re both going to change, so it’s a dynamic situation where you can’t solve half of the equation,” he said.

Harris Mahedavi (Ashburn) expressed his frustration with the gap between the school district’s request and funding from the county government. The school division had requested $1.08 billion in local tax funding, a $75 million increase over the current fiscal year. The Board of Supervisors funded a $53.7 million increase.

“We could have done the 5% if we were funded properly from the Board of Supervisors, and here we are in this challenging situation here,” he said.

The staff also recommended the elimination of 25 new elementary teacher positions, which Chief Financial Officer Sharon Willoughby reported would not significantly impact student to teacher ratios, and would slash $2,378,263 from the budget. Part-time first grade teacher assistant positions are also recommended to be removed, saving $1.5 million.

The presentation identified the removal of $1,000 stipends for special education teachers and assistants as potential savings, totaling $707,261.

A number of cuts to the English Learner department saved over $2 million, including 16 EL teachers.

Although the possibility of the funding shortfall was identified in February, board members and Ziegler pointed to the state holding up the process.

“The commonwealth has put us and every school division in a very difficult place as far as adopting budgets. I appreciate all of their work and all of the work they’ve done projecting,” Ziegler said.

5 thoughts on “School Board Cuts $21M in Final Budget

  • 2022-05-25 at 1:25 pm

    I confess I didn’t follow all the budget machinations at last night’s board meeting. But I did get a sense board members are striving for equity — particularly for the Arts. They’re also conscious of student safety. For example, they seem open to replacing Park View High due to its dilapidated condition. In other news, there was an important discussion about racial incidents within LCPS. Unfortunately, the discussion took place at 11:30 p.m.! Who’s still up to listen? Mr. Morse needs to do a better job of prioritizing the agenda.

  • 2022-05-25 at 3:35 pm

    Always interesting that in the spring its “funding shortfalls” and “budget cuts” and then at the end of the fiscal year there is the question of what to do with what is left over. Funny how that seems to be repeated every year! What were the efficiency metrics that drove the budget (state statute 22.1-79 requires this)? Minimum class size? minimum bus occupancy? Required & measurable performance by the Superintendent? Reduction of Superintendent contract to yearly or two years so he can actually be reviewed by the same board that assigned the priorities? Honest forecast of number of staff that will retire during the year and be replaced by staff at half the cost? Any concern over Monroe Tech still blocking students from attending? 🙂

  • 2022-05-25 at 5:27 pm

    How about having the school board redirect money to protecting our schools by hardening them to avoid the kinds of horror experienced in Texas? How about funding the Sherrif’s office with funds to ensure an SRO is available at every school (elementary, middle, high-school). How about stopping the social engineering going on and use this money to ensure our most precious gifts our children are safe. No our School Board is too busy worrying about transgender and CRT issues. Shame on our school board!

  • 2022-05-26 at 7:39 am

    Starting point: 5% fewer students, 5% LESS funding

  • 2022-05-26 at 8:02 am

    Let’s remember the game that LCPS is playing. The school board knowingly inflates its budget by $40-60M per year so they can spend the money on goodies at the end. Here is Jeff Morse in his own words admitting this fraud: “There is still an additional funding leftover that we have seen every year for the last 10 years…. …. gap of $40M this year is going to start off next year with a gap of $40M as well …. and our experience is no … [our costs will not exhaust the funding]. When you have a funding profile for 10 years straight …. . “.

    Despite cutting instructional days from 180 days to 170/year and enrollment falling from past year’s budget, the LCPS budget increased by $70M+. Per pupil spending is up 10%+. This budget is legalized theft by the SB of the taxpayers.

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