Student on computer

A student accesses through the Schoology portal on a Loudoun County Public Schools issued computer. 

The Loudoun County School Board adopted its $1.67 billion fiscal year 2024 budget on Feb. 2 with a few last-minute additions, including a proposed $495,564 to fund four math resource specialists to start pilot programs at five elementary schools.  

School Board member and Vice Chair Harris Mahedavi (Ashburn) made the suggestion, saying math was another area that students in elementary school were struggling with after COVID-19. He proposed the additional help, combined with one resource teacher that was being provided by the state for a total of five to offer extra support to students and teachers recovering from learning loss that happened during the pandemic.

However, board members learned another program brought into the division to help with learning loss,, was not included in the fiscal year 2024 budget. 

Loudoun County resident and parent Kathleen Voss said she was thrilled this past fall to see the division partner with to help with what she called “the cataclysmic impact of COVID on our children.” 

After hearing the division isn’t continuing its contract with the online tutoring service Voss said she thinks it’s a mistake.

“I can’t believe they are getting rid of the best thing,” she said. 

Voss, a regional university admissions director, has worked in higher education for the past 26 years. She’s worked with Loudoun high school students for the past 15 and has lived in Loudoun for the past 12 years. She has one child who graduated from division schools and another eighth-grade student now. 

She said her job is to review applications and she said she has had a front row seat to see how COVID has impacted students.

She said other than the obvious dip in GPA when students returned to in-person learning, she is seeing gaps in math progression where there typically wasn’t a gap before the pandemic. Voss said a lot of it is in AP math courses, and students not continuing in those courses because they don’t have the tools. She said some AP calculus students are not progressing to more advanced courses like AP calculus AB and AP calculus BC and multi-variable calculus, which is a post AP math class. These tend to be preferred  courses when applying to some of the highly selective engineering colleges across the country, according to Voss.

She said she has experience in her profession with the Princeton Review, a well-known test prep company that provides the platform for, and said the SAT prep side of is really good. 

“This is one of the best platforms if you are going to entrust online tutors to work with your kids,” she said. “It’s bilingual, there’s the vetting process, the background checks. It’s an amazing platform for kids when it comes to AP practice, essay writing for college admission, SAT and SAT prep. It’s tried and true and it’s [the Princeton Review] been around for 40 years. I love the access piece for kids who can’t afford private tutors.” 

Voss said her eighth-grade daughter has used several times over the past few months for her algebra homework. She even credits the platform with helping her daughter get an almost perfect score on a report.

She said it provides 24/7 access to kids who have after school activities or jobs

“It’s well recognized and having seen it in action, I can’t speak to every subject, I’ve only looked at the math piece, I’m impressed. My kid is learning, its definitely helping her,” she said. 

Sara Brege, a mother of six and a teacher said her kids have used and it has helped them tremendously and on their schedule. She said she feels like the School Board is doing a disservice by not providing it next year. 

“You don’t adopt a textbook or teaching materials then get rid of them after a year. You work through the kinks and even if you see it’s not working you give it more than a year,” she said. 

Brege said she has paid for tutoring services in the past and knows how expensive it can be.

“We have this free, vital resource that can be extremely beneficial, especially going forward. It’s been a positive experience and good for me as a mom. My kids are getting older, and I don’t remember every single aspect of math. My oldest is taking calculus, I can’t help him with that,” she said. 

Brege said the service hasn’t been promoted enough or explained well enough to help students know where to find it.  

Voss said she has yet to see anything negative about the service other than the cost. That’s what led administrators to cut the program. 

Board members learned during a Jan. 17 budget work session that the program would end once the $1.7 million in COVID-19 funding ran out.

Deputy Superintendent Ashley Ellis told the board that use of the program hadn’t been high and based on feedback from board members from a Nov. 15 budget workshop on funding priorities, the service wasn’t going to continue in fiscal year 2024. She also said since the November School Board meeting the Virginia Department of Education had announced a new partnership with the Library of Virginia to provide free tutoring services to students next year. Ellis said the division would finish the contract this year then switch to the new program. 

Voss said she suspected there were many parents who didn’t know about the service. That prompted her to make a Facebook post last week to let parents and students know it is available. 

She said that one post on a western Loudoun Facebook page garnered more attention in the first 24 hours than the page traditionally sees. She said she has also received phone calls from neighbors thanking her for the information on the resource. 

“It provides access to every kid in the county, and it helps close the gaps in education left by the pandemic, it needed to be publicized more. If I had to hazard a guess, I bet half of the people didn’t know about it.”

“The service has received excellent ratings from LCPS students who have used the service, but LCPS has seen relatively sparse usage and the license cost is very high,” School Board Chair Ian Serotkin said.  “I'm hopeful that the Library of Virginia online tutoring initiative Dr. Ellis mentioned will serve as a suitable replacement.”

Brege said she wants to know more about the new program to see if it’s going to be similar. 

“I need to know what it’s going to entail. Is it better? Worse? … Also, if it’s offered to everyone in the state, do they have the ability to keep up with all those students? is nationwide,” she said. “Why can’t they continue with for another year while we transition to the new program to see if the new program can do what they say it can?”

Voss said she understands the cost is an issue, but said the services provided by the tutoring company would save families thousands of dollars.

“It costs thousands of dollars to hire a private admissions counselor. … Most people can’t afford it, even in our county. Most people aren’t spending millions of dollars on college consultations. Just for that alone it is perfect,” she said, noting two students she knows who used the college essay help from and received edits and feedback right away. 

Voss said she wants to see what is best for the kids in Loudoun and for them to put their best foot forward. 

She said every little bit helps and to have five math resource teachers would be wonderful, but “there are over 83,000 kids in our county. That is a little less than 21,000 kids per support teacher. I think we need to be more aggressive and creative in how we help our students. was creative and aggressive and student forward.”

Since the Jan. 17 announcement that was not continuing, the VDOE has shared that The Library of Virginia in collaboration with Brainfuse will be providing the free online tutoring service. Brainfuse is supported by funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and will provide online tutoring anytime and anywhere, according to the website. For more information on the program go to

The new tutoring service is live now. 

This article was updated 2/9 at 4:12 to list AP math courses.

(3) comments


Ian Serotkin appears to be financially illiterate. If tuto-dot-comd costs $1.7M/yr, that is 1/1000 the LCPS budget. Put another way, for the grand cost of operating LCPS for 1.6 hrs, (180 days / 1000) students received unlimited help from competent resources. The only reason this program didn't continue is because it didn't align with the SB's objective to appropriate taxpayer $$ and give them to their friends and family - adult LCPS employees.

Btw, there is no such thing as a multivariable AP calculus course. Who knows whether the person quoted in the story had no clue or whether the author never bothered to check. This is Loudoun btw.


I suppose five math experts as a resource for teachers and students are better than the none currently on board. But how teachers and students are going to access this resource to actually get something out of it remains to be seen. The Tutor site didn't get the needed exposure to be accessible by students. Despite the cost, this resource should be maintained.


Teachers and their enablers on the SB put children into this hole by refusing to do their jobs for the better part of two years.

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