Crowd turns out to protest Loudoun school cuts

WASHINGTON – The final public hearing ahead of deep education cuts in Loudoun County drew a standing room-only crowd Monday night, with hundreds of parents, students and teachers voicing their concerns.

Some were angry and frustrated. Others were teary-eyed.

“There are probably about 50 proposed cuts,” said Wayde Byard, spokesman for Loudoun County Public Schools.

“There are no good choices out there right now.”

Programs, services, jobs and even four small elementary schools are among the possible cuts, as the school board looks to slash nearly $40 million from upcoming fiscal year’s budget.

“The school board is trying to do this incrementally, in a way that is going to harm the fewest people, but with a deficit this big it’s going to be very, very hard,” said Byard.

One major component of the school system’s upcoming spending plan involves a step increase in salaries for employees.

Many experienced Loudoun County school employees currently make less money than their counterparts in neighboring jurisdictions. Supporters of the proposed raise say it is necessary to keep the growing school system competitive.

The last time Loudoun County Public Schools had a broad step increase in salaries was in 2009.

Board members are expected to wrap up their budget work before the end of the month.

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