You can find some press coverage from Leesburg Today and Washington Post. Each article states something that I think is a little misleading.
From Leesburg Today:
The school board's budget seeks 9.3 percent less in local tax funding than originally proposed by Superintendent Edgar B. Hatrick in November.
From Washington Post:
the School Board approved only $7 million in trims late Thursday before sending the plan to county budget officers.
The truth is that Governor Kaine made most of the budget cut by changing his own budget for the Virginia Retirement System and Group Life Insurance rates. Additional cuts came automatically as the Superintendent moved the opening of two schools out another six months because litigation is keeping them from opening on time.
The sum total of changes to the Superintendent's budget by the School Board was actually only $5,721. This is not a typo. There are no missing abbreviations or misplaced decimals. The correct number is five thousand, seven hundred and twenty one dollars. This is because while we cut back new school office staff, new technology and raises for our substitute teachers we added full-day kindergarten at four schools, gave a tech boost to our poorest schools, rolled back a school lunch price increase and started thinking in a new way about how we determine the appropriate starting pay for our custodians.
You probably won't see this number from other sources because I am combining our Operating Budget with the Food Services budget which is somehow a different budget, but I never was any good at understanding accounting principles so I'm discarding that difference in favor of the changes we made to what my neighbors and I are being asked to pay for with our property taxes.
And while I proposed and voted for many more cuts than we made, I believe that this budget is the best representation we have of the desires of Loudoun's citizens on what public education should be in the coming years. It has been vetted and formed after countless hours of meetings and countless numbers of inquiries about its finest details by nine people elected to this purpose just 60 days ago. I will champion this budget exactly as it is, publicly and privately, to anyone who will listen.
There are a lot of discussions to have about this proposed budget as we lead up to the Board of Supervisor's consideration in March, and I'll have plenty of posts in upcoming days. There are plenty of ways to slice and dice the numbers and more information I'd like to get out about some of the cuts and additions.
Most importantly though, there is the education that anyone from citizens to members of the Board of Supervisors needs to be willing to undertake before they go appointing themselves as unelected School Board members and authorities on this budget. I always welcome criticism, but I only factor it in when it comes from people who have taken at least a minimum amount of time to inform themselves. I try to make it easier to do that with my blog, but of course I'm not the only source of information and shouldn't be for a discriminating critic.
In that vein I'm going to point you to a tremendous resource now available online, LCPS Operating Budget School Board Questions and Answers. In past posts and in the sidebar to this log I have provided you with links to the same budget documents that we work from. Now you have the final resource, that of direct questions posed to the Administration by the School Board and answered in writing. There are a grand total of 161 questions and answers in this file, along with many charts and statistics. They come from every member of the Board and cover nearly every conceivable topic. Many resulted in the very amendments that were voted on and adopted. I think that by reading it you'll learn a lot about what is on the minds of your School Board representatives, and how hard they work to understand the inner workings of the administration to deliver the very best school system for the dollar.