How many times do we have to hear Loudoun Republican Supervisor Shawn Williams (R-Broad Run) advance exactly the same mendacious claims that the all-Republican Board of Supervisors is not cutting the school budget?
Williams was at it again this week, with a letter to Leesburg Today in which he even had the chutzpah to assert that “unfortunately, some have put forward a false narrative that this Board of Supervisors has cut the LCPS budget.”
OK, Shawn, shall we go over it once more?
This year, enrollment in the Loudoun school system rose by 3.7 percent (an additional 2,569 students added to the rolls) — while the all-Republican Board of Supervisors held the school operating budget to just a 2.5 percent increase. That left a $10 million shortfall from just what was needed to keep pace with the growth in enrollment — not even accounting for inflation, increased health care costs, or teacher raises.
For next year, when enrollment will rise by 3.4 percent, the Board has already announced it will consider only two scenarios:
* one would increase the school operating budget by only 0.8 percent (a $6.6 million increase from this year’s level);
* the other would actually cut the budget by 0.5 percent (a $4.6 million reduction from this year’s level)
Again, just to keep pace with the increased enrollment, and not even accounting for other nonnegotiable costs that are going up — such as inflation, mandatory contributions to the state pension system, staffing new schools) — would require an increase in the budget of $29 million. The Board’s plan will leave a shortfall of $22 million to $34 million from that required bare-minimal increase. (The actual shortfall, counting those other increased costs, will be $70 million to $80 million.)
So that now makes two years in a row of cuts; together they amount to a 5 percent cut in per pupil expenditures. Adjusted for inflation, it’s a more than 8 percent real cut in per pupil spending.
A cut by another name is . . . a cut.
The Loudoun schools have already engaged in unprecedented belt-tightening for the last five years: enrollment has grown 25 percent in that time while the operating budget has grown by only 11.6 percent. And Loudoun’s cost of instruction is already among the lowest in the region ($11,638 per pupil versus $13,472 in Fairfax, $16,991 in Falls Church, $18,880 in Arlington).
Anyone — even a Republican Board of Supervisor! — can find up all of these numbers in the official documents available at the official LCPS website.
So can’t we get these guys to stop lying, at least?