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Mixed Emotions

School Board Reacts to County Budget

Loudoun County School Board member J. Warren Geurin (Sterling) has mixed emotions about the county budget.

"I am deeply disappointed with the Board of Supervisors regarding the operating budget," Geurin said. "On the other hand, I am fairly happy in regard to the CIP (Capital Improvements Plan). I have mixed emotions."

The Board of Supervisors cut $24 million from the school’s budget Tuesday night.

The School Board requested an increase of $60.4 million from the Board of Supervisors for the coming year. They were allocated $36.4 million.

SCHOOL BOARD CHAIRMAN Robert DuPree (Dulles) said he was disappointed with the $24 million budget shortfall.

"I was hoping for a better outcome," he said in an e-mail.

As for the CIP budget, the Board of Supervisors adopted all 2007 priority projects, including the second phase of renovations to Loudoun County’s four oldest middle schools, Blue Ridge, Seneca Ridge, Simpson and Sterling.

DuPree thanked Supervisors Sally Kurtz (D-Catoctin), Stephen Snow (R-Dulles) and Bruce Tulloch (R-Potomac) for working hard to fund immediate CIP needs.

DuPree said Kurtz, Snow and Tulloch worked hard to prevent "arbitrary and ill-advised reductions" for dollars budgeted for future school projects.

The School Board will begin its budget reconciliation process later this month.

"That will mean going back into the adopted budget and making reductions," Geurin said. "We can't budget for dollars we don't have."

IN RESPONSE to the Board of Supervisors' nonbinding vote in late March to reduce the school budget by $31.2 million in March, Superintendent Edgar B. Hatrick sent a letter to School Board members detailing budget cuts he thought would be necessary to meet the funding shortfall.

The list included the elimination of all new initiatives including junior varsity lacrosse, a Mandarin Chinese pilot program, a high-school guidance initiative and foreign language instruction in the sixth grade. Hatrick also suggested eliminating technology enhancements, salary increases, all new central office positions and paid sabbatical leave.

"These cuts would be made to prevent the dismantling of current programs," he said in the letter.

Even though the Board of Supervisors gave the School Board a $7 million boost, the School Board will have to make cuts. They will consider Hatrick's suggestions as part of the process.

"This will make for an extremely difficult budget reconciliation process," DuPree said. "We will have to make some tough decisions, looking at all options to determine where we can make cuts of this magnitude