Loudoun County School Board member Priscilla Godfrey (Blue Ridge) is working hard to inform voters about all eight school bond referendum issues, to be voted on Nov. 8.
"This is the first time in 14 years we have not kept the projects together," Godfrey said. "I think it is more difficult for individual projects to pass this way. I would have preferred them to be voted on as one issue. I am working very hard to inform voters of the critical nature of these projects."
All nine School Board members stressed the importance of each project at last Tuesday’s meeting.
"Vote all eight. All eight projects are needed," Godfrey said. "This is not our majority opinion, this is our unanimous opinion."
THE PROJECTS COST A TOTAL OF $180,440,000. They include five new schools and major renovations to three elementary schools. The bond referendum proposes building three 875-student elementary schools on the Harmony Intermediate school site in Hamilton, in the Loudoun Valley Estates II subdivision and a new Arcola Elementary School. The referendum also proposes building a new 1,350-student Dulles area middle school, a new 1,600-student western Loudoun area high school and renovating Hillsboro, Sugarland and Rolling Ridge elementary schools.
The Board of Supervisors selected general obligation bonds to fund these projects. Historically, these bonds will be paid off in 20 years, so people moving into Loudoun will help pay for the schools their children may go to.
THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS approved all eight capital projects when it adopted the school system’s Fiscal Year 2006 Capital Improvements Plan. If voters do not approve all eight projects, the Board of Supervisors must find other ways to fund them.
"All of these projects have been rated critical and top priority," Godfrey said. "If any one is not passed, there are two alternatives; we can use cash or ask the state for public assistance."
School Board member Warren Guerin (Sterling) said Loudoun County needs to prepare for the future.
"The need is right around the corner," he said.
At last Tuesday’s meeting, Loudoun County Schools Superintendent Edgar Hatrick asked voters to "consider them as one question."
LOUDOUN COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS is one of the fastest growing school systems in America, Loudoun County Public Schools spokesperson Wayde Byard said. This year, Loudoun County schools opened with more than 47,000 students enrolled in 68 schools. The most recent Capital Improvements Plan, adopted by the School Board and Board of Supervisors, projects 63,247 students will be enrolled in Loudoun public schools by 2009.
"There’s been fairly significant enrollment growth in the past decade," said Sam Adamo, director of the Department of Planning and Legislative Services. "We have actually witnessed our student population increasing much faster that our average population growth."
The public schools are not only used by students, but by the community. During the 2004-2005 school year, 126,131 hours of non-school activities were held on school property. Church organizations, youth and adult sports leagues and Boys and Girl Scouts utilize classrooms and fields.
THE BOND REFERENDUM will be voted on Tuesday, Nov. 8. The polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.