Letter: Tony Virgilio, Leesburg

Editor: You would think with all the controversy surrounding Loudoun County Public Schools, including national media exposure, school board demonstrations, firings and recalls and now a Virginia Attorney General’s investigation into malfeasance by the administration and School Board, that Mr. Zeigler would have proposed a budget for the coming year that could withstand serious review and questioning. But it just isn’t so.  

Even a cursory review indicates that elements of his budget for the 2022-23 school year are unsubstantiated, inconsistent, and even deceptive. 

First, the previous budget’s increase was based on 5,500 new students who never showed up for class last September. This year’s budget, based on an estimated increase of 3,000 new students, is also highly questionable. Loudoun real estate agents will tell you that with all the LCPS controversy, families aren’t moving to Loudoun for better schools. Many Loudoun families are sending or planning to send their kids to private and parochial schools. Families who reject LCPS policies and can’t afford the private schools are home schooling or leaving Loudoun for better school systems elsewhere.

Second, LCPS had a $60 million discretionary fund last year and another $70.5 million windfall this year. How can LCPS ask for a 9.6% increase of $85 million more for this year without accounting for over $130 million in unallocated funds.   

Third, the budget includes major funding for a new International Baccalaureate program, an advanced placement program for exceptional college bound students. The objective of this program is to “provide an internationally acceptable university admissions qualification suitable for the growing mobile population of young people whose parents were part of the world of diplomacy, international and multinational organizations.” However, last year LCPS played “woke” politics and rejected student exceptionalism when they changed the admissions criteria for the Academies of Loudoun and replaced it with de facto quotas and lower standards to promote diversity.  Given their track record, can we really believe LCPS will institute a new program for gifted, college bound students? 

Fourth, Mr. Zeigler proposes a 5% increase in teacher’s pay, including merit step increases. Taking out at least 2% for merit increases would leave teachers with only a 3% salary increase against inflation which is currently running at an annualized rate of 7% to 10%. Are they seriously proposing to cut the real pay for Loudoun’s teachers next year.

Fifth, buried in the budget proposal is an additional $3.3 million and 13 new positions to meet future requirements for collective bargaining It seems odd that it will take more money and resources to negotiate with a union than it does to work independently with 5,500 teachers. But, in any case, funding for these positions is based on a weak assumption at best. 

Bottom line, the School Board and administration should: 1) Give the teachers a decent raise that accounts for inflation, 2) Cut the proposed school budget back to 2021-22 levels, 3) Get unnecessary programs, like an International Baccalaureate, out of the budget, 4) Forget about collective bargaining, and 5) Start listening to parents and taxpayers instead of listening to themselves.  

Loudoun County deserves better management of our schools, much, much better, and the Board of Supervisors has the responsibility to fix this problem during its review and approval of the LCPS 2022-23 budget.

Tony Virgilio, Leesburg

5 thoughts on “Letter: Tony Virgilio, Leesburg

  • 2022-02-01 at 10:18 am

    I don’t agree with the writer’s negative portrayal of LCPS. Just because a few folks have yammered doesn’t mean everything is dire. But the writer raises fair concerns about Dr. Ziegler’s proposed budget. I hope everything gets fully aired at tomorrow’s public hearing. Happy Lunar New Year Loudoun!

  • 2022-02-01 at 10:23 am

    Is thec3,000 new students for 2022-2023 on top of the 5,500 students for 2021-2022 that did not materialize. 8,500 new additional students seems very unrealistic no matter how I look at it.

  • 2022-02-01 at 4:04 pm

    Well said. Time to clean house and have people step up now to replace our current BOS & SB.

  • 2022-02-03 at 8:34 pm

    The writer nails it!

    Please add Clorox to the list. The stench coming from LCPS is overwhelming.

    Transparency is lacking and has been for a long time. Clean house and get back to educating Loudoun youth.

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