The School Board has transferred $12.5 million slated for school renovations to the Board of Supervisors to buy 101 acres in Ashburn to use for a future school site.
The land had been set aside for an Islamic School, but the proposal was abandoned.
Superintendent Edgar Hatrick said the public need not worry about a delay in the renovations, because the supervisors will use Virginia Public School Authority bond funding to cover that expense. Renovations of Loudoun County High School and four middle schools, however, are contingent on voter approval in the fall, he said.
Robert Dupree Jr. (Dulles) said the board had to act quickly on the transaction. “We do not want to lose the use of this prime land,” he said.
THE BOARD met Tuesday night and spent about a half hour discussing the process of gathering input on setting boundaries for four elementary schools to be opened in the 2005-06 school year. It voted 4 to 3 — with Mark Nuzzaco (Catoctin) abstaining and John Andrews (Potomac) absent — against giving a thorough review to the suggested boundaries before releasing the proposal to the public. Bob Ohneiser (Broad Run), J. Warren Geurin (Sterling) and Sarah Smith (Leesburg) supported scheduling two meetings prior to the release of the staff’s recommended boundary lines.
Ohneiser said he would like the staff to explain the details so he would know which ones would raise concerns among his constituents. “The school board should be given the opportunity to review [the proposed boundaries].”
Dupree said he would not support the proposal because he does not want his constituents to accuse him of participating in a “secret plan. I assured them the public would have first crack at it,” he said.
Hatrick said the staff would provide a copy of the information at least 24 hours before the hearings.
Boundaries will be under review for Newton-Lee in Belmont Country Club, Legacy in Brambleton, Pinebrook in Kirkpatrick Farms, and Sycolin in Leesburg.
IN OTHER BUSINESS, the board:
* Decided to use the 30-acre site in the Ashburn/Dulles area for a middle school, slated to open in the fall of 2007. The board had the choice of using the land for either a 20-acre elementary-school site or the middle school. The School Board staff recommended the latter use. Toll Brothers provided the land as its proffer for Loudoun Valley Estates II rezoning, saving the county $2.8 million.
* Gave high marks to a partnership between the Loudoun County schools and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Hatrick said the middle-school teachers were apprehensive about the intensive program at first. “By the end of two weeks, those people were rocking,” he said. “They were so excited about what they were doing.” He predicted the partnership would lead to the creation of a curriculum that will be used throughout the nation by middle schools and eventually by high schools. “You could not help but be electrified by the enthusiasm of those teachers,” Hatrick said. “These are the first steps in what will be a remarkable partnership.”
* Agreed with Ohneiser that the board members should start reviewing the budget soon. “I have a strong feeling this board needs to prepare for the budget this year,” he said. “I do not think we should operate under the mission statement and goals written by the prior school board.” Ohneiser distributed five pages of his own budget recommendations. He recommended the board start working on the budget on Saturdays.
* Reviewed plans to apply for $1.8 million in federal funding for the “No Child Left Behind” program. Loudoun is expected to receive a cut in the program’s Title I funding for low-income schools, even though the number of students qualifying for the program has risen. The cost of running the program is $2.5 million.