When I wrote last week’s emails, I was fired up. I had come to the last few days of advocacy for the LCPS budget. I had discovered that many PTA leaders were not aware of the Supervisors budget proposals.
Many of you passed my emails along to your membership, which I had hoped you would do and appreciate. Many PTA members were grateful and responded by advocating to the Board of Supervisors. Others were upset about the PTA email lists being used for political purposes. Upon receiving responses from their reps on the Board of Supervisors, many parents became unsure about just who is responsible for the salaries of school employees.
I am concerned that in the desire to raise awareness and do all I could for our schools, I may have overstepped and done more to blur the situation than to clarify it. I am also concerned that I continued the “sky is falling” rhetoric of past budget years. I took the weekend to refocus and find perspective on the situation, and concluded that I need to add more light and less heat today.
- The Board of Supervisors allocates funds; the School Board determines how they are spent. Therefore, within limitations it is the School Board who determines teacher salaries. The School Board may be able to offer staff a modest raise this year by cutting back on programs and staff levels. Doing this will require substantial cuts, and I don’t think it can be done without impacting the quality of our schools, but it is possible.
- There are two kinds of salary increases for LCPS employees. One is a cost of living adjustment (COLA), the other is called a “step increase” and is essentially a raise for gaining another year of experience. The $10M I have been advocating for the past few days is for a “step increase” without a COLA.
- The Board of Supervisors has fallen short of allocating funds equivalent to stable per-student funding plus a step increase for LCPS employees, a standard I had hoped they would meet.
- PTA parents are not uniform in their feelings about school funding, class sizes, teacher salaries or tax rates. They are as politically diverse as our entire community.
- My job as a School Board member is to ensure that Loudoun County has an effective and efficient school system and to advocate for what is best for that system.