Loudoun County, Va. (January 17, 2015) – Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) Superintendent Dr. Eric Williams presented his Proposed Fiscal Year 2016 Budget to the School Board on Thursday, January 8, at the LCPS Administrative Offices in Ashburn.
The budget Williams presented represents an increase of $68.9 million (7.6 percent) from the current budget. (The current budget is $911,985,197, the proposed budget $980,889,801.)
“We don’t just want to make it through budget time,” Williams told the School Board. “We want to have a budget that allows us – not only to do the great work we’ve been doing – but lets us get better.”
Williams said the proposed budget answers the question, “What might we do differently?”
“Even though we’re making some difficult cuts and reallocations, we still think there are some new investments we should make in order to take it to the next level.”
The superintendent also asked the School Board to look beyond numbers in considering the proposed budget. “We looked at a ton of numbers tonight, but we need to remember what’s behind the numbers in terms of the kids and their academic achievement. Kids only get one shot at a K-12 education.”
The superintendent said there are several factors driving his budget:
Salary and benefit increases total $33 million in the proposed budget. This includes salary step increases that average 2.5 percent, a nominal ($350,000 total) one-time payment to employees at the top of the salary scale not eligible for a step increase and a 1 percent shift in mandated Virginia Retirement System (VRS) contributions. These items are budgeted at $17.7 million.
For Group Health Insurance, the proposed budget includes funds to pay for the employer portion of a 15 percent premium increase. (Williams also encouraged the School Board to consider insurance plan design changes that would lead to a smaller premium increase.)
The next-highest total is the cost of growth: $28 million. Student enrollment is a primary driver of budget increases as well as the need for more schools.
LCPS continues to experience more student growth than any other Virginia school division with 2,522 additional students expected in August. The projected 75,755 students for the 2015-2016 school year is 18,746 more than attended LCPS schools during the 2008-2009 school year (an increase of about 33 percent).
The number of schools also has grown dramatically from 2008-2009 (75 to 88). Riverside High School is slated to open in August and ES-27, an elementary school in the Dulles North area, the following year.
This category includes the limited expansion of full-day kindergarten at a net cost of $3.5 million and the restoration of nine middle school deans (for $900,000).
Beginning in October, all LCPS departments did a comprehensive budget review. As a result, reallocations of funding were suggested and, ultimately, became part of the proposed budget.
Under the proposed budget, 80.5 positions, as well as non-salary expenditures, are reallocated for a savings of $7.4 million.
The proposed budget includes an increase of 344 employees (3.5 percent). Of these positions, resource reallocation results in a net reduction of nine employees in the LCPS central administration.
These reallocations don’t involve reductions in force. Employees in affected positions will have the opportunity to transfer to a similarly compensated position.
There are now 9,822 LCPS employees. The proposed budget would raise that number to 10,166.
Cost Per Pupil
If fully funded, the Superintendent’s Proposed Fiscal Year 2016 Budget would result in an average cost per pupil of $12,697, $502 more than the current school year. However, this would still be $83 lower than the $12,780 average cost per pupil during the 2008-2009 school year.