A public conversation about education in Loudoun County, Virginia.
I don't know if anyone reads this and I have made more detailed proposals in other places. But I'll summarize here so you can find the details elsewhere:Parents should pay more in direct costs (user fees) for the luxuries they demand that does not return clear value to the public. Parents support all-day kindergarten because they save $10K per year in child care by forcing every other household $100 more in taxes. Sports are kid entertainment and should be paid for by the parents.We should use our school buildings more efficiently. Changing school schedules to insert more classroom hours per year into our buildings would mean less infrastructure costs. School classrooms should be used 50-80 hours per week all year around instead of the current 30 hours per week for 9 months. Then we'd need half as many schools.Parent should pay for programs that are selective--those not open to all students. This means music programs, sports, AOS, TJ, gifted programs, etc. The parental competiton for one-upmanship means that parents will be honored to pay to upgrade johnny to some special program like Mandarin or Lacrosse. We already collect financial data on parents (Lunch program) so children that are needy can automatically be offered scholarships. Taxpayers are rightly obligated to pay for basic education because everyone benefits from educated children. However, parents shouldn't be able to push the cost of raising kids off on society by making every childhood expense an taxpayer-funded educational program.
John,Thanks for the good work on the board.I would like to know if you feel the budget is presented in a way that is understandable to you and the others on the board. Do you have the resources necessary to help you adequately evaluate this remarkably large and complex budget?
I should say, I read your post about your access to regional benchmarks and historical numbers... do you feel these tools are sufficient?Additionally, what troubles you the most about this process? Do you see any value in creating a 2-year budget instead of a annual one?Many thanks again.
Here are some interesting comments from an outside consultant about LCPS administrative costs:http://loudounextra.washingtonpost.com/blogs/living-loco/2008/feb/19/consultant-celebs-mom-advises-soon--be-principals/
I would like to know if you feel the budget is presented in a way that is understandable to you and the others on the board. Do you have the resources necessary to help you adequately evaluate this remarkably large and complex budget?I thought I had answered this question, but not as directly as I imagined. Yes, I do have the resources. The staff is knowledgable and answers questions readily and thoroughly. You've seen the packet of questions asked and answered, and those don't include the hundreds answered verbally. The primary limitation is time and my own expertise and experience in reviewing a budget of this size. The information I had was enough for me to comfortably make the decisions that needed to be made.The process could be improved with more board member education, with staff for board members, and with electronic versions of all documents. We used to do a 2-year budget, whether it was better or not, I don't know. I'd be open to discussing it.
I would like to know if you feel the budget is presented in a way that is understandable to you and the others on the board. Do you have the resources necessary to help you adequately evaluate this remarkably large and complex budget?I thought I had answered this question, but I didn't as directly as I had imagined. Yes, I do have the resources. The staff is knowledgable and answers questions readily and thoroughly. You've seen the packet of questions asked and answered, and those don't include the hundreds answered verbally. The primary limitation is time and my own expertise and experience in reviewing a budget of this size. The information I had was enough for me to comfortably make the decisions that needed to be made.The process could be improved with more board member education, with staff for board members, and with electronic versions of all documents. We used to do a 2-year budget, whether it was better or not, I don't know. I'd be open to discussing it.
Mr Stevens here is a comment from Burton from the Loudoun Times today.''''Meanwhile, Supervisor Jim Burton (I-Blue Ridge) said a tax hike proposed in the county's next fiscal plan may be difficult to swallow in light of the gloomy housing figures."How can you justify a 13.5 percent increase [in real estate taxes] on people who are trying to figure out how to refinance so they can stay in their homes," he said.""""""I believe this comment shows with your proposed budget Hatrick with his salary and benifits far exceeding 200,000 a year and the rest of the board don't live in the real world, when you propose a budget many of the county citizens can not afford. I have been saying this since last fall. How can we expect the students to grow to be fiscally responsible and show compassion to the less fortunate in these tough fiscal times when the school board and administrators live in some kind live in think in some kind of budget Disneyland. The topper is you don't have the guts to make tough cuts in the budget so you throw it upon the BOS to look like the bad guys, while you all cry it is all for the kids. What about the parents that are not poor but are having a tough time during this recession. I don't care what the feds call it if a family is having an hard time it might as well be a depression to them.I am very sadden by the lack of compassion shown by this school system to the ones having a very hard time these days by wanting to raise taxes. Personally I believe you all are a bunch of hiders and want to pass the buck to others such as the BOS to do your dirty.You all show very little back bone during these hard fiscal times and what makes it even more sad you are representing our children or is it for only the wealthier children and want to drive the less fortunate out when maybe no new tax raise might go a longs ways to helping these struggling families. And don't think it is just the lower end of the scale in Loudoun there are many that are too proud to show they are also in trouble that live in the upper end of this county and couldn't sell their homes if they wanted to to alleviate the burden. Now you all want to put the nail in the coffin for many. I am very sadden by this school board school administrators especially Hatrick with his exorbitant compensation during these times. Very sad indeed to put the entire burden on the BOS.Hopefully we will get some new people in here that can make the tough decisions and find innovative ways to make the school system to work instead of throwing money at it. Start with raising the class sizes. Many of us parents did not go to schools with class sizes this small and most of us did very well in school anyway.Lee j
Ed,Your idea of user fees has some merit but...How do you actually think it would work to use schools 80 hours a week. You think kids should go to night school? Do you think that will help families raise healthy well-adjusted children for our future? What masochistic person gets to tell the parents of the lucky night shift students? Sounds OK, for maybe a nanosecond until you think about logsitics of implementing your punitive plan for children. Wait, how about the County sells/leases Education Court and have Admin staff work their 40 hours in the school buildings at night, maybe that could be pilot tested first.
There are seven days in a week. There are 12 months a year. If a classroom can service children from 8:00 to 5:00pm that is 3150 classroom hours per year.Currently we use a classroom from 9:00 to 4:00 for 180 days or 1260 hours. (Or about 40% of child capacity.) (I proposed that the children's schedule be staggered across the additional hours in a day, days of the week, and months of the year to increase capacity without building more schools. A middle school with 400 students divided up into 100 student teams can use the same space with a 45 days on/15 days off year-around schedule as we now use for 300 students. High school students scheduled for class on alternating days for 3 days * 8 hr/day instead of 5*5 hours would also double class capacity. Saturday school required.)I also think we should use the schools for college classes too ... at night. That would also get a higher usage ratio, and fees would subsidize the building costs.
"This is the first year that I've been bombarded with e-mails," about the proposed tax rate," York said. "We have to make sure that citizens can afford to live in Loudoun County."York was highly critical of the commonwealth's tax system, which he called "very inadequate" and said needed to be restructured."The burden is shifted on those who have value in land not cash," he said. "It would be nice if we can partner to demand that Richmond provide leadership and get the tax structure from the 18th to the 21st century."That is a comment from scott york from this article. http://www.leesburg2day.com/articles/2008/02/22/news/fp624cfdboardpriorities022208.txtI am sure many of you have seen this comment and others like it from other supervisors.From the book controversy that is making national headlines to this current out of touch with the public on the current budget. Are our school board members and school administrators totally out of touch with most of there constituents and the current reality crisis that is hitting many many families with children ????? Is the budget designed only so the wealthier families remain in this county. For them there is private schools. Our school budget most be made affordable to all the residents of Loudoun not just the wealthy. Again the school people putting this budget together and handed it to the bos to do the dirty work for them is another cowardly act by the people in charge of our school system.