The annual debate surrounding the Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) operating budget has heated up early this year. I appreciate all the participants who are taking time to be active in this important process. I know we all agree that keeping Loudoun’s educational system top notch is of paramount importance. For me, this is especially important as the father of three children who are and will be going through LCPS.
Unfortunately, some have put forward a false narrative that this Board of Supervisors has cut the LCPS budget over the past two years, while the facts are quite different. As we begin next year’s budget process, I believe it’s important to provide the background information on the two LCPS operating budgets since this current Board of Supervisors took office in January of 2012.
Over the past two budget years (FY 2013 and FY 2014), the LCPS operating budget has increased from $745,946,877 to $843,672,450, a 13.1 percent increase. The local fund transfer, which is the amount of Loudoun’s local tax dollars spent on education, has increased from $494,025,867 to $553,615,482, a 12.1 percent increase. While it is true that a large portion of these budget increases was due to enrollment growth, the cost-per-pupil still rose from $11,014 to $11,638, a 5.7 percent increase. Over the same period, the cost-per-pupil only rose 5.1 percent in Fairfax County and 5.5 percent in Prince William County.
The parents I speak to about the school budget are most frequently concerned with class sizes and teacher compensation. The past two LCPS operating budgets have allocated approximately $26 million for employee compensation increases, a $1,500 across the board raise in FY 2013 and a 2% raise in FY 2014. The operating budget has also been sufficient to keep class sizes constant, in line with the LCPS policy adopted in 2009.
As we begin the FY 2015 budget process, it’s important to remember that preliminary budget numbers are a starting point and are subject to change. I am fully committed to ensuring the needs of our students are met, as the Board of Supervisors has done the past two years.
Shawn M. Williams
[Shawn Williams is the Broad Run Supervisor on the Loudoun Board of Supervisors.]
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