I didn't send out an update after the announcement because it isn't the end of the story. Unfreezing the LCI ensures that Loudoun gets a bigger share of the pie, but it doesn't tell us anything about the size of the pie. McDonnell & the General Assembly have a tough job ahead of them to balance the state's budget, and as the Governor told me (and undoubtedly a lot of people), there will be plenty of cuts to go around. I never expected education funding to be spared.
We still don't have specifics of McDonnell's budget proposals yet but there are rumors that he will propose $735 million in education cuts over the next two years. We're trying to confirm this number and evaluate the legislature's willingness to go along with it. It may be several weeks before we know for sure.
Still, I thought it would be good to know what impact a number like that would have on Loudoun County. The Virginia Education Association took that number and broke it down into the impact on local communities. For Loudoun it would mean about $11.8 million less in state funding next year than if there were no cuts to the state education budget, but still an increase of $25.4M in state funding from FY10, far more than we anticipated when we passed the School Board's budget.
To give you a sense of scale:
- $25 million is the School Board's request for a local funding increase this year
- $22.5 million is 3 cents of the property tax rate
- $12 million dollars is needed to pay for the education of 3,257 new students next year
- $7.4 million is the savings from increasing average class sizes by one student
- $5.5 million is the cost of a 1% raise for all LCPS employees
- This assumes that the legislature won't freeze the LCI
- This assumes that the $735M number from the Governor is correct and that the legislature doesn't alter it
- There is other state funding which could be cut, some of which could target Loudoun
(Interesting side note, Loudoun is the fourth largest school district in the state, but we are eighth in state funding. Chesterfield, Henrico, Chesapeake and Norfolk are all smaller districts receiving more state funding the Loudoun.)
[Chap Petersen: Ox Road South]