Schools Save $17.5 Million

Schools Save $17.5 Million

Schools incur savings on building projects to return to the county.

Twenty-four capital projects for the public schools cost less than expected, saving the county $17.1 million in Capital Improvements Program (CIP) costs.

On Sept. 9, the School Board voted to send the savings to the county. The projects date back to 1995 when the renovation project at Broad Run High School was reduced by $30,700.

The school district used value engineering and a prototype design for new school buildings to achieve the savings, said Wayde Byard, school press officer. Value engineering allows the district to lower a final bid amount by cutting non-essential amenities, using different materials and taking other cost-saving measures.

“If we think the bid is high, we will find ways to lower it. We will examine the building from top to bottom,” Byard said. “We work hard at what we do to make sure we get the best value for the dollar.”

In the mid-1990s, the district began using a prototype design for elementary schools based on the design of Sanders Corner or Evergreen Mills. The middle school design is based on Farmwell Station, which opened in 1997, and the high school design on Stone Bridge, which opened in 2000 and is similar in design to Potomac Falls that opened in 1997.

IN OTHER BUSINESS, the School Board received two reports, one on student enrollment and the second on the status of new hires for the 2003-04 school year. The reports show that:

* Student enrollment increased 7.5 percent from last year and was within .32 percent of the projected enrollment for Sept. 30 of this year. The enrollment as of Sept. 8, the 10th day of school, was 40,380 students, compared to the Sept. 30 projection of 40,250 students, a difference of 130 students. Last year’s enrollment was 37,375 students. Staff will present the School Board with the official Sept. 30 count, a number that will be used for funding purposes, at the Oct. 14 board meeting.

“It was not out of line with what we expected,” Byard said, adding that the school district has remained within one percent of projections during the past 12 years. “That’s an annual occurrence that we are close.”

* The district has 18 vacancies to fill as of Sept. 11. So far, the district has hired 503 teachers and has four vacancies to fill in the areas of physical education, special education, English as a Second Language and the deaf and hard of hearing. The difficult positions to fill were in the areas of mathematics, science and in particular the earth sciences, and special education, said Matthew Britt, assistant superintendent of personnel services.

“I don’t think we had a problem with pools of applicants other than earth science,” Britt said. “We have very few people going into those fields for teaching.”

Each year, the school district receives 3,500 to 4,000 applicants for teaching positions and about the same number for classified positions. Britt attributes the number to the district’s recruiting process and the recognition of the name Loudoun County, the fastest growing county in the state and the second in the nation.

The personnel staff travels nationwide and abroad to recruit teachers, this year taking 49 recruiting trips. Britt, three personnel specialists and five retired administrators took the trips to London, Toronto and Puerto Rico, along with several states, including Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah and Washington.

“It’s the wonderful experience of meeting people from all over the world, knowing we’re bringing those people who are highly qualified,” Britt said.

As for classified staff, the district has 308 open positions and another 14 to fill with secretaries, maintenance staff, food service employees and teaching assistants.