A public conversation about education in Loudoun County, Virginia.
This would be funny if it weren't untrue on so many levels. There are plenty of us that are wanting, begging to cut unnecessary programs (programs costing the county a lot of money that only serve a small portion of the populations, things like Smart Boards, hybrid buses, Chinese class, Drug Court) and services to pay lower taxes. Problem is, our elected officials don't have any willingness to make tough choices and run the risk of being unpopular by actually cutting things. I've been screaming for cuts for years. So, I guess this cartoon doesn't apply to me.
Drug Court cost the county relatively little, and actually is revenue POSITIVE, since the participants in drug court are required to work while participating. Therefore, their taxes contribute to the State and Federal coffers. Meanwhile, they are not residing in our over-crowded prison. So the county is not feeding, clothing, or housing them.
Same here, anon, but I have given up on this School Board or especially Herr Hatrick ever making real cuts where they could be tolerated with little impact on teachers and instruction. They'll always go first for the real meat to make everyone scream. They really should be ashamced of themselves, but no luck there either.I agree that drug court is a long term money saver, Liz. If only we could cut a few admin positions at LCPS and not have whiteboards in every class room we could afford that easily.
Drug court COULD be a money saver, if done properly. The last numbers I saw (in 1/09) showed that, from 6/04 through 1/09, 58 people had been accepted into the program and 13 had graduated. In 4.5 years... At an ever increasing cost to the county (the federal grant money that started it goes away over a period of years). So, 13 graduates in 4.5 years. At a cost of several hundred thousands of dollars per year and 8-10 full time employees... Sorry, I think we can do better.
Again, during those four years, we haven't had to feed, house, or clothe 58 people in prison. We've had 58 people adding to the tax stream, and for those in the drug court with families, we haven't had to add their children to our foster care rolls.Out of 58 people in prison for drug crimes, how many are out, clean and sober after only 4 years?
I heard several speakers at the BOS budget input session demanding budget cuts period - no caveats. I also heard several people highlighting the bloated LCPS budget, and considering it is 70% of the budget - it makes sense that cuts need to start here.There's a vocal minority that comes to these budget input sessions, they are also very mobilized with their emails and calls. Unfortunately this vocal minority has the ear of certain members of the BOS, and they use these comments as basis to raise taxes year after year. Sadly, I feel like the fix is in before any citizen comments. We have a group of Democrats on the SB and BOS that take the county administrator's proposed budget and shrug their shoulders and say "What can we do?". The lack of political will is on display - and the tax payers play the price.
The trouble with the Loudoun County budget is the school budget. We spend more money on our schools here in Loudoun than any of the surrounding county's as a percentage of the budget, and on a per pupil basis. 70+% of the budget goes to the schools. Elsewhere ijn the country the average is 50%-60%. Our neighbors spend 60% of their county tax dollars on the schools.The crazy part is despite the mone spent the performan is not really there. Why? Because we do not put our money into teachers, a.k.a. the front line, we put our money into the logistical tail a.k.a administration. Lo.Co. Schools are administratively very top heavy. Considering the fiscal realities the county is experiencing, we can save a lot of money, not by cutting teachers but by eliminating exta administrative staff. The growth in the school budget has exceed inflation and population growth for a number of years. We have little to show for it in terms of studnt performance. We have lots of new shiny buildings, like the one off the green way, and many new administrative deans, guidance councilars etc.We need a bottoms up rebaselining of the budget. This is the only way to find waste. Maybe Hatrick has too long in his position. New blood would see the forest through the trees.
How about a cartoon about supervisors (some past, some present) who lined their pockets with campaign contributions from developers and then seemed shocked -- shocked! -- that actual people bought all those new homes they approved to be built. Actual people with actual kids who expected to send those kids to Loudoun County schools and have police and fire protection in their new neighborhoods, etc.
Liz, the article didn't say 58 people graduated-only 13 graduated from Drug Court. The ones who don't make it through the program go, where else, to jail. So the program, in 4.5 years, "rehabilitated" 13 people...
What I don't understand is why there isn't any critical analysis of the effectiveness of each and every program. Let's run this like a business. Set the mission of the school to provide excellent education, determine what is effective and necessary, cut what isnt necessary, partner with parents, and put money where it will accomplish the mission. However, the mind set of this school board is not what is effective, but how much more can we get.As far as I am concerned, we could save the county a lot of money by eliminating the school board because it acts as a rubber stamp for Hatrick.
so what are they cutting-- classes that are beneficial for our students. Statistics is not being offered at SB this year! yet we continue with that stupid fles and sams program. What idiots. Bet no one in administration is taking a pay cut. Bet no one in that big admin building is losing their job. But my kids are stuck with over-crowed classes and no choice of electives. Guess that there will be a lot more kids taking early release since there won't be any classes to take.
To measure effectiveness of a given program, it must be monitored over time. Given the changes to budgets, etc, and other external factors, any results would be flawed. There are too many variables to control for to run the schools "as a business".Another point, a business can pick and choose its customers and markets. It can choose not to serve unprofitable markets or those which don't provide a sufficient margin. The government run schools have a mandate to provide services to all student, regardless of their skills, abilities, and needs coming into the system. It therefore cannot be run "as a business" which has limited goals and many more options.I'm tired of people complaining about inefficiency without citing specific examples. Much of the "admin" portion of the LCPS budget goes to capital expenditures and payments on bonds. This is not something which can be cut out at will (unless you'd like the county to declare bankruptcy). As for the % of the county expenses which go towards schools, that's because the county provides little else in the way of services compared to our surrounding neighbors. Loudoun receives great benefit from volunteer fire fighters, saving the county millions in wages, there's almost no transportation department or bus services, compared to Fairfax. A younger population requires less health and other human services costs. Loudoun is very lucky to be able to spent 70% of the budget on schools. Otherwise, the situation would be much worse!
Anonymous: Out of any 58 people who go into prison for drug crimes, how many are out within 4 years: CLEAN AND SOBER? I'm guessing 13's a pretty good number given that question.However, this is Chairman Stevens's blog...we can discuss drug court further over at my blog if you wish.