Amended Loudoun County Schools Budget Passed By School Board

February 8, 2024 0 By JohnValbyNation

LOUDOUN COUNTY, VA — The Loudoun County School Board approved the school division’s budget with a few amendments Tuesday ahead of the county’s budget process.

The approved $1.8 billion operating budget for fiscal year 2025 had several changes from Superintendent Aaron Spence’s budget proposal but maintained the same spending level and county funding estimate. The Superintendent’s Estimate of Needs was a 9.4 percent increase from the

Budget amendments added by the School Board included a full rather than phased implementation of the full-day Pre-K program expansion with a $567,650 increase, removing fiscal year 2025 funding and using unspent fiscal year 2024 funds for a learning language with AAC initiative and Bridges Intervention for Math kits, adding one $212,222 for a special education supervisor for transition services, providing virtual distance learning with a 1st to 5th grade teacher, music teacher art teacher and physical education from flexible staffing allocations, adding two adaptive physical education teachers for $229,986 while removing a web developer for $142,862 and decreasing lapse and turnover in school operating funds by $41,996.

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A completely new School Board had just started their term in January and were faced with a short turnaround for budget approval. The Superintendent’s Estimate of Needs was presented on Jan. 18, and budget approval happened Feb. 6.

“Over these last couple of weeks, we’ve come from diverse backgrounds and perspectives. And we all have a voice, and it’s my it’s my hope that you all felt valued, respected and heard,” said Chair Melinda Mansfield of the Dulles District. “And I deeply appreciate the teamwork and camaraderie that I’ve felt from my fellow board members and from staff. I see those bridges being built, and I’m grateful.”

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Spence’s Superintendent’s Estimate of Needs budget had three priorities: making students the focus, boosting staff recruitment and retention and focusing on new initiatives and strengthening existing programs.

“This budget adoption is the perfect example of the school board and administration working together to ensure we are serving each and every student every day,” said Spence. “This budget includes an average 6.5 percent salary increase for our employees as well as sign-on bonuses for recruitment and retention efforts and focuses on the needs of our unique and diverse student population.”

The early childhood program, Starting Towards Excellence in Preschool (STEP), serves 4-year-olds from low-income families. The program focuses on literacy, early math and developmentally-appropriate social and behavioral skills to close achievement gaps between low-income preschoolers and more-advantaged children.

“Bottom line, it’s putting more kids in classrooms it for more time,” said Leesburg District representative Lauren Shernoff. “It also will support the community and provide a safe learning environment where children have their physical, social and educational needs met. We can see from the data and our math growth as well as our [Standards of Learning] that there are significant gaps for economically disadvantaged students, and this program will be foundational and directly supporting them.”

The virtual distance learning addition targets students needing virtual learning for medical reasons.

“I have watched these parents for the past year struggle and suffer and worry with anxiety as to what was going to happen to their medically fragile children,” said Catocin District representative Kari LaBell. “I’m absolutely proud to put this amendment forward.”

Mansfield added, “I would like for everyone to know that this was a joint effort by all nine board members and staff, and this was something we all felt pretty convicted about.”

Part of the budget increase was due to the fall 2024 openings of two new schools — Watson Mountain Middle School in the rural part of Leesburg and Henrietta Lacks Elementary School in Aldie. Budget increases also support increasing English Learner and special education students, digital security enhancements, expanding the Division of Diversity Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility to meet state requirements and a new school extracurricular and student club allocation. LCPS said in a news release 89 percent of the budget goes to school-based staff and needs.

Next up is the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors’ budget process to approve county funding for LCPS. Loudoun County Administrator Tim Hemstreet will propose the county budget at 5 p.m. on Feb. 14. A joint work session with the Board of Supervisors and School Board will be held on Feb. 22.

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