Superintendent Edgar B. Hatrick unveiled a $712 million operating budget for fiscal year 2008 at the Nov. 28 School Board meeting at the Administration Building in Ashburn.
When Hatrick created the budget, he said he took six points into consideration: student enrollment growth, opening four schools, maintaining competitive employee compensation, a 15 percent anticipated group health insurance rate increase, market adjustments for gasoline prices and other materials, and continuing instructional programs.
This year, the student population grew to more than 50,000 students. Student enrollment is projected to increase by 3,000 students during the 2007-08 school year.
The school system will open three new elementary schools, Arcola, Sycolin Creek and Rosa Lee Carter and Stone Hill Middle School in the Ashburn area.
With more students coming into the school system, Hatrick said he had to increase the budget to compensate for them, as well as an increase in utilities costs. More busses means more fuel and more students means more supplies.
"All of this has an impact on the budget," he said.
SAM ADAMO, director of Planning and Legislative Services, said enrollment increases and the opening of the new schools will account for approximately 606 new positions next year. This includes 331 additional teachers, 87 teacher assistants, 45 bus drivers and attendants and about 16 school administrators.
In order to recruit the best of the best, the superintendent proposed increasing teacher’s salaries by 6.3 percent. That includes a 3.5 percent cost of living adjustment.
Hatrick proposed a $43,500 starting salary for next year. In order to attract teachers from around the country, and the globe, Hatrick said the school system has to offer more to beginning teachers.
He also proposed increasing the stipend for National Board Certification from $1,500 to $7,500, to encourage teachers to further their education in additional areas.
J. WARREN GEURIN (Sterling) said one of the biggest challenges for years to come will be the ability to maintain and recruit top-quality teachers, especially those certified in math and science.
Geurin also said he hopes the school system continues improving its elementary, middle and high school programs for students who are Limited English Proficient.
Approximately 3,700 students are enrolled in English as a Second Language (ESL) courses in Loudoun County Public Schools, Geurin said. That number is projected to grow by 20 percent next year.
"These are students who deserve to have the same high-quality excellent education as we provide of our other students," he said. "This is a Loudoun County School Board priority goal and we have made great progress in the past five years educating students for whom English is not a first language."
The Sterling representative said he hopes to continue providing quality education for low-income families, too.
"We are one of the highest per capita income areas in the nation, after all. However, we have seven elementary schools where the percentage of low-income families is 47 percent, 45 percent, 37 percent, 31 percent, 27 percent, 26 percent and 22 percent," he said. "We have a middle school where the percentage of low-income families is 31 percent."
The schools with the highest number of ESL students in the county are also the schools with the highest number of low-income families, he added.
THE SCHOOL BOARD is scheduled to adopt the capital improvements program, capital asset replacement program and operating budgets Tuesday, Jan. 9, at 6:30 p.m., at the Administration Building in Ashburn.