The Loudoun school district has raised the number of schools that made Average Yearly Progress last year from 89 percent to 91.5 percent.
School Board member Warren Geurin (Sterling) boasted of the success during the board bi-monthly meeting Tuesday night. That number is significantly higher than the state average of 69 percent, he said.
The improved rating resulted from an appeal that the school district made after statewide "No Child Left Behind" reports were released in August.
The appeal resulted in Sterling Middle School and Harmony Intermediate School qualifying for AYP. No Child Left Behind provides a snapshot of student achievement by separating the Standards of Learning test scores by ethnicity, limited English proficiency, low-income, and special education.
The schools that did not make adequate yearly progress were Seneca Ridge Middle School , and Dominion, Heritage, Park View, and Potomac high schools.
"IT DOESN'T MEAN those schools are perfect," he said of the two that now meet the criteria. "Those who made AYP are not perfect either. It is indicative of the emphasis that this community puts on quality education. The learning and teaching that takes place are of the highest quality."
Geurin distributed an article from the "Virginia Journal of Education" about teacher's pay and how poorly it stacks up to other professionals. He said it was providential that the article underscored the need for better pay on the same evening that two teachers spoke in favor of a 6 percent raise, plus a step increase, in teacher salaries next year. "The need to recruit and retain quality teachers is imperative," he said.
Vicki Peptrosky, a 22-year veteran teacher, said she and her colleagues needed a substantial increase in pay, because of rising costs. She said she and her husband, also a teacher, cannot afford to live in Loudoun County. "We're not alone," she added.
She spoke of the high price of medical care. "Gas alone has been very dehabilitating for many of us," she added.
No one profession has the impact of teaching, she said. "Unbelievably enough, we are not paid as true professionals."
LOUDOUN WOULD not have done so well with its Standards of Learning (SOLs) scores if it were not for its experienced teachers, she said.
Sandy Sullivan, chairman of the compensation committee of the Loudoun Education Association, also asked the board to support the 6 percent raise, plus the step increase. "To retain these quality teachers and staff, they must be compensated," she said. "To remain competitive, we need the increase."
She said cost of living raises are not realized unless they are significant.
Board member Bob Ohneiser (Broad Run) said he favors having the best teachers and the best programs. But he asked Peptrosky and Sullivan to take their message to the decision makers who choose the mix of commercial and residential development. "That's where the pressure needs to be," he said.
Ohneiser said the proposed salary raise could increase the tax rate from $1.10 to $1.32. "I'm asking you to put the pressure on the residential commercial mix as well as informing us," he said.
THE SCHOOL BOARD approved a pre-Labor Day opening next year, Monday, Aug. 29, 2005. Parents, teachers, and students voted via e-mail, 751 to 357 in favor of the pre-holiday start.
Geurin favored starting school earlier. He said he had always been in favor of post-Labor Day, partly because "that was the way we were brought up. "(But) in today's world, opening the school before Labor Day makes sense."
Chairman John Andrews said he, too, had changed his stance after many years. "I'll be the first to admit I was wrong. I fought every year for four years to get a post-labor opening, and I'm not going to be supporting it next year."
He said his argument that absenteeism at the beginning of the school year would drop dramatically with a post-holiday start was not substantiated.
Ohneiser compared the survey to the upcoming election. "We took a survey and those that got involved in voting sent a message "and that's what we should do."
Board member Joseph Guzman (Sugarland Run), while supporting the pre-Labor Day opening, said he was concerned the calendar provides two days off prior to Thanksgiving. He predicted families will take advantage of that holiday and extend it by two extra days. "I predict we'll increase our absenteeism."
He maintained, however, it was the best choice. "I strongly support this schedule because of the winter break being able to be longer."
IN OTHER BUSINESS:
* The Teri and Shari Malone Foundation awarded scholarships of $250 each to 39 eighth grade students. The foundation is dedicated to the memory of the twins who were killed in a car crash in 1989. The Malones were straight-A students, and were about to enter the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. The family has provided $89,000 in scholarships in the past 14 years.
* Recognized Steven Gottschling, a Stone Bridge High School senior, as a Blanton Scholar who attended the Virginia Historical Society's sixth Wyndham B. Blanton Scholars forum in October. Kathryn Manning, a Stone Bridge senior, was selected as an alternate.
* Superintendent of Schools Edgar Hatrick said Loudoun County High School students escaped serious injury Saturday night after a car crossed the center line on Route 15 and struck the side of one bus. Three buses were transporting students from a band competition. Some students were treated and released from the hospital.
* Andrews recommended hiring deputy sheriffs to direct traffic at the entrance of River Bend Middle School in Sterling . A traffic light is slated to be installed on Algonkian Parkway in about a year. He said the 20-minute traffic backup in the mornings presents a dangerous situation for school buses and parents dropping off their children. "The traffic getting in and out of there is horrendous," he said.
* Board members reminded residents to turn over their ballots on Nov. 2 and vote in favor of the referendum asking for approval of $92,605,000 in bonds to support renovations at four middle schools and Loudoun County High School.
* The board approved enrollment projections for the next school year, with a total of 47,467 students compared to 44,011 this year. The kindergarten classes would comprise 4,066 students compared to the senior classes of 2,6