Best Schools for Everyone — at a Cost

By Lloyd the Idiot

I’m beginning to feel like Wayde Byard here, but I want to relay some news on the Loudoun County Public School budget  which is always a hot topic here.

With an increase of more than 2,500 students (a 3.8% increase), the LCPS last week approved a budget of $860 million – about $37 million more than last year, a 4.5% increase.  That comes after more than $16 million in reductions from Superintendent Hatrick’s proposed budget, primarily in reductions in IT outlays and health plan expenses.  Jill Turgeon’s Face Book post has more, but below is what I’ve culled from it:

* No existing positions or programs were cut [although it appears that new positions were cut including five bus drivers and an assistant principal].

*There were no discussions of closing ANY of the schools. [Personally, I don't see why Lincoln Elementary got off the hook]

*The health care plan that was recommended by the Personnel Committee was adopted.

* Other reductions included a reduction of new vehicle purchases for the vehicle fleet, as well as operation and maintenance line items in the Support Services and Planning departments.

* Included in the proposed budget is a $12 million placeholder for employee compensation increases.

I certainly appreciate all the hardwork of our board members in keeping costs under control.  I really do.  On the other hand, I can’t help thinking that, with an average expense of $12,000 per student which increases disproportionately with the number of students, an aggressive voucher program could be a better way of controlling costs (in other words, outsource it all).  Indeed, the tuition at many good private schools is less than $12K.  Public schools simply are doing something wrong if they can’t achieve greater cost efficiencies than the smaller private schools.  It’s not a knock on the LCPS per se since virtually all school districts in northern Virginia are that way.  It’s just that the “math” doesn’t seem to add up.


Comments

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    Eric, your after the fact citation of my support for an option apparently explored by the Middleburg school community itself is not the same as supposed years of advocacy you can’t prove so won’t discuss (but keep bringing up).

    I’m not talking about results, Eric, you are. I’m talking about an argument of YOURS that some communities deserve a private model simply because. I don’t doubt for a minute that good results are achieved with higher doses of one-on-one support in a sheltered environment–which may explain a comment I read from one parent that being at Lincoln is especially good for their child with sensory integration issues. I looked that up, and I can see where a very small environment would be a huge benefit to a child with those needs–which tends to bolster my OPINION that the small schools would best serve as dispersed centers for kids with special needs, as opposed to a vestige of an agricultural village past that is preserved on that basis, but to serve (at a very different standard) the very same general demographic living in the kind of houses and communities that you personally don’t like.

    Yes, aff, read the policy, and read the potential concerns cited in the other thread, on seats perhaps being UNavailable in subsequent years–musical chairs for the sake of continuing the model? As BlackOut says, the decision should be financial. Starting from the assumption, as with Eric’s passionately random arguments, that they should simply be kept open because, does not address any of the fundamental issues of cost OR equity.

  • edmundburkenator says:

    “the decision should be financial”

    Well, then ALL COSTS/BENEFITS need to be on the table for evaluation.

    We rarely look at ALL of the costs when we plan because many are difficult to calculate and are inconvenient. We only look at the convenient factors or ones that support other motives (profit usually).

  • Eric the 1/2 Troll says:

    “Frankly, if it costs the county a premium to keep these little schools open I don’t want to be paying for them. ”

    I t doesn’t. Particularly in the case of Lincoln. We are paying no more per student at Lincoln than anywhere else in the County. Less, in fact, as bussing cost are essentially non-existent and there is no debt service for the facility and has not been for decades.

  • Eric the 1/2 Troll says:

    “…is not the same as supposed years of advocacy …”

    Another Babs strawman – go back and read what I wrote, then try, try again.

    “I’m not talking about results, Eric, you are”

    By process of elimination, you are. There is no COST inequity in the case of Lincoln, there is only a results in equity. So you are either complaining about superior results for the same cost expediture OR you are talking about nothing (which I grant you, in your case, IS possible – i.e., I just don’t like it and that is all that matters).

  • Eric the 1/2 Troll says:

    “Add to that the inefficient use of admin…”

    Since admin staff is calcualted on the budget on a per student basis, it is the same for this school as any other and probably explains why this school operates with a smaller admin staff than most. WITH superior results I might add.

  • Eric the 1/2 Troll says:

    “Well, then ALL COSTS/BENEFITS need to be on the table for evaluation.”

    In the name of “equity”, eb? No, we CAN’T have that. (Sorry watched the Southpark Saracaball episode last night).

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    Here’s what you wrote, Eric:
    ——————————————————————————–
    “Eric the 1/2 Troll
    January 28, 2013 at 2:23 PM
    You LIKE those charter schools don’t you, Barb”

    —completely out of left field, in the middle of a rant.
    ———————————————————————————
    “Eric the 1/2 Troll
    January 28, 2013 at 3:54 PM
    And I do recall you advocating at one time for the small community-based rural elementary schools in western Loudoun to be converted to charter schools.”

    —after I challenged you on it.
    —————————————————————————-
    “Eric the half a troll
    January 28, 2013 at 6:14 PM
    Sorry, Barb, I don’t keep an index of all your posts. It was during one of the past rounds of you attacking the smaller elementary schools of western loudoun in favor of the regional clearinghouse schools you think are better for us out here in the west.”

    —after I asked you to prove it.
    —————————————————————————
    Keep on with the ping pong, Forrest.

  • Eric the 1/2 Troll says:

    All of which led you to this, strawlady:

    “…itself is not the same as supposed years of advocacy…”

    Which I never said. Your construct. You did like the idea and you did advocate for it online in the past. Too bad you wish to deny it now, but I don’t care.

    It make no difference to the fact that you wish to NOW close Lincoln simply because it achieves superior results for the same expenditures of resources – all in the name of “equity”. Way to bring down the average, comrade.

  • Eric the 1/2 Troll says:

    “I don’t doubt for a minute that good results are achieved with higher doses of one-on-one support in a sheltered environment”

    Hold on there Sea Biscuit!!. Please document the supposed lower student – teacher ratio at Lincoln Elementary compared to…say the County average. I do not think you will be able to because traditionally, the smaller elementary schools of western Loudoun have a HIGHER student/teacher ratio than the average for the county. I believe Middleburg is an exception to this rule but I am not 100% sure of that.

    Also, be aware that a HIGHER student to teacher ratio means in economic budget terms that we spend LESS per student in these smaller schools than the average not MORE.

    As for being “sheltered”, well why shouldn’t students in ELEMENTARY schools be sheltered?

  • Debbie Rose says:

    Feel free to follow my school board FB page: Debbie Rose- School Board. I post a ton of information about issues being considered and always request public input. It isn’t a blog- so just your thoughtful opinions please:)

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    Eric your apparent need to believe I did so is not the same as it happening. PING!

    pong

  • Eric the 1/2 Troll says:

    BTW, Debbie, I apparently was wrong about this School Board voting in the changes in the graduation cirriculum. I apologize for my quick condemnation. I was given bad information by the school is my only excuse. According to the information posted by Ed here, this change was put in place by the State legislature.

    It is still wrong but a least all Virginia students have the same impact to the courses they can take.

  • FedUp says:

    “We are paying no more per student at Lincoln than anywhere else in the County.”

    Really? Surely must have some numbers to back that up. How about utility costs per student? Is that old building as energy efficient as the newer buildings? What about staffing ratios? Are there as many or fewer school-based staff than the average newer elementary school? You say busing costs are less, so what are they compared to the average elementary school?

  • Eric the 1/2 Troll says:

    “What about staffing ratios?”

    Staffing ratios are budgetted on a per student basis. Lincoln has a 1/2 time Principal because of this. That answers three of your questions.

    I have no data on utility costs so you may have me that per student costs for utilities are higher (or lower) no way to tell.

    Busing costs are a factor of the attendance area. As has been noted, Lincoln has a very small attendance area. Bussing costs are nominal.

    Please do not forget that there is zero debt service associated with the school.

    From a LTM comment:

    “Lincoln Elementary is owned free and clear. A comparative elementary school (like Kenneth W. Culbuert) has (at the county GO bond rate of 1.68%) about $1.5M (rounded down) in P&I payments due. With 516 kids at KWC that comes out to $2,900 (rounded down) per child for the 20 year period for the loan. Maint costs come from LCPS not the parents.

    Make no mistake about it. LCPS CIP calls for ES-25 and ES26 to be built here in Western Loudoun. LCPS has every intention of building two more schools (about the size of the new Douglass school in Leesburg) at a cost of $30M-$36M each exclusive of land and development costs.

    If Lincoln AND the other small schools are closed—WE WILL be paying $1.5M in P&I for each of those two new schools to handle the capacity. FACT – KWC, Banneker, and Emerick cannot handle all of the kids in Lincoln, Middleburg, Hillsboro, Waterford, and Aldie.

    Is that money well spent ? If we spend $60M to $72M in construction plus several millions for land and development—AND—increase bus rides to over 1 hour per ES child—increasing the need for busses, drivers, fuel, etc. We are ALL GOING TO OPEN OUR WALLETS to pay for it. EACH NEW ES SUPPORTS 750 STUDENTS. THAT’S 1500 SEATS THAT WE DO NOT NEED TO BUILD if the small schools are kept open.

    To those who want to close them, putting aside biases against “small schools” I can tell you this. We will all pay. If what you want is to pay for two new ES for Western Loudoun—go for it. The truth is that if you close the small schools, the kids will FILL the existing schools past capacity and drive the need for two new ES.

    When we loose our school, you will:
    - pay for more transportation
    - pay for the teachers, because Lincoln class sizes are already the same as KWC, Emerick, Banneker
    - pay for new vice-principals instead of our 1/2 time principal
    - pay to bus 100% of the kids to KWC since almost no-one is walking distance to KWC
    - when KWC, Emerick, and Banneker are full in 2014/2015, you will pay clear over $30M + land + development + legal fees for a new school to be built. WE—THE LINCOLN COMMUNITY—DON’T NEED A NEW SCHOOL AND WE ARE NOT ASKING FOR IT. BUT—IF YOU CLOSE LINCOLN—WE—ARE GOING TO GET A NEW SCHOOL AND YOU (THAT’S YOU) WILL PAY FOR IT. “

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    Eric, I spent some time with the current proposed and adopted CIP, and on a first search it appears they no longer do a breakout by grade/school (perhaps because previous years showed as low as 6 in entire grades in some years?)

    I was able to find the total enrollment by school, and you are correct that Lincoln is at capacity with 137/137. That is projected to decline to 117/137 by the end of the current CIP projection cycle.

    Aldie is at 124/137, projected to decline to 105/137.

    Hiilsboro, 66/137, declining to 46/137, and Middleburg 61/137, declining to 49/137.

    Maybe totally open enrollment (as opposed to the policy just superceded of plain old open enrollment at those four schools) will reverse the trend. Since the preferred policy of some is to start from the premise that they MUST be kept open, as elementary schools.

  • Eric the 1/2 Troll says:

    Same old story, Barb. Opening new schools early drives down the efficiency of existing schools (albeit temporarily). Funny thing is they have to also open the NEW schol at about 50-60% of capacity (temporarily as you have noted often) as well so when comparing apples to apples the existing schools are still equally efficient without the debt service of the new schools.

    It would be FAR better to build smaller new schools for lower housing density areas. Less land, more efficient openings, and shorter bus rides – a win/win/win for the tax payers of Loudoun County. And if the example of the existing smaller elementary schools is to be believed, a better education for the children.

  • Hillsboro says:

    When looking at the enrollment/capacity numbers, be sure to take a look at KW Culbert’s attendance area. This is Sam Adamo’s version of Barbara Favola’s senate district. It meanders all over western Loudoun, to the extent that it reaches within a hundred yards or so of Hillsboro ES’s front door. This ridiculous gerrymandered attendance zone does exactly what it is designed to do.

    http://www.lcps.org/cms/lib4/VA01000195/Centricity/Domain/66/ES_Zones/KennethWCulbertES.pdf

  • Eric the 1/2 Troll says:

    Also note, Barb that while Lincoln goes from 100% to 85% utilization, Kenneth Culbert with its 750 capacity goes from 70% to 64% utilization. This completely belies the theory that bigger schools are more cost effective than smaller school. That is absolutely NOT true in lower density areas of the county.

    The lesson? STOP building huge elementary schools in areas that can not support them density-wise. It is bad for the taxpayers and bad for the kids. Basic three track schools or smaller are perfectly adequate for western Loudoun.

  • Eric the 1/2 Troll says:

    Wow, Hillsboro, that is ridiculous. There are your tax dollars at work. That attendance area demonstrates very well the transpostation costs we are all on the hook for when Hatrick and Adamo build their 800-900 student elementary schools in the west. Now think of the bus rides that these kids have to endure just to come to school and get home. Its one thing when it is High School or Middle School but these are K-5 grade kids we are discussing here.

    Stop building huge elementary schools in western Loudoun!!

  • Elder Berry says:

    Lloyd, really, I can’t let your comparison stand. You know that private schools are not required to do everything that all public schools are required to do. Private schools are not required to accept and educate ALL students no matter what their requirements. Private schools are free to cherry pick their students and they do. That’s the deep dark secret of all the voucher proposals. Those private schools you want your kid to go to may not take your kid.

    Western Loudoun’s small schools are an important part of their community’s identity. Western Loudoun does not want and is not suited to large elementary schools that require huge transportation expenses.

  • Bill Fox says:

    Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do about previous boards’ approving the construction of Culbert. I’m sure it was built on a premise of “equity”; that folks in the West deserved big shiny schools just like the folks in the East. The comment from the newspaper is wrong, we do have room to close all of the small schools. No problem. According to the CIP, it would never be a problem. I haven’t actually done the math, but we probably have enough vacant seats in western Loudoun to close Culbert, and keep the small schools open, although as I’m sure you know, that’s not gonna happen.

    The fact is, we could probably save a couple million by closing the small schools. However, saying that we could save money by closing a school is different than the claim that a school is inefficient. I have yet to see a comprehensive “cost per pupil” type analysis for the 5 small schools. Before we go down the “equity” road, I would need to see THAT analysis, all things considered, and not just a figure of what we could save by packing everyone into the larger schools.

    Then, even after I see those numbers, assuming that they show that the small schools are somewhat more expensive to operate, then we have to do a cost benefit analysis, school by school. Addressing Lincoln specifically, the question would be: “are the benefits of keeping Lincoln open worth the additional costs of educating students at Lincoln?” Of course, benefits would be viewed in terms of benefits to the county as a whole, since the costs are incurred by the county as a whole, and not simply the benefits derived by Lincoln parents by having their kids continue to go to Lincoln.

    So, are there any benefits to the county of keeping Lincoln open? Of course! Lincoln is a nationally recognized school. It serves a a magnet school, of sorts, in western and central Loudoun, as nearly 1/3 of the students that attend are from outside of the Lincoln attendance zone. When we on the dais are talking about the benefits of school choice and eschewing a one-size-fits-all mentality, it would in fact seem a bit odd to close one of the few existing schools in the county that DOES in fact offer a different educational experience. Not only that, but having Lincoln looks good for the county. Its like recruiting a superstar for your college sports team. . .it raises the reputation and visibility for the whole team. That’s good for recruiting teachers on the LCPS side and good for business on the county side.

    That being said, as long as there is any cost differential between the small schools and the mainstream schools, and as long as there is money to be saved by closing them, these schools are going to be fair game for the chopping block every year, in perpetuity. Middleburg has figured this out and are taking matters into their own hands. By converting their school into a charter school, they are insulating themselves against closure. I told a group of Lincoln parents that they should be considering the same move, if they are really sick of having to justify their existence year after year. Converting to a charter would allow Lincoln the Lincoln community to take control of their own destiny. They could almost certainly have the building. . .for free. They could hire LCPS teachers and staff (who would remain LCPS employees), even the existing teachers and staff, as long as those employees were willing to stay despite the change in management. They would receive their operating funds from LCPS on a per-pupil basis based on the the county averages. Any additional funds required would be covered by local fundraising and donations. Would this make Lincoln a better school? No, it would probably be exactly the same. But it would be off the chopping block indefinitely, as long as it continued to meet the standards and provisions set forth in the charter agreement.

    Until then, my vote is to keep the schools open until I see clear and convincing evidence that Lincoln, or any other small school, requires a disproportionate amount of taxpayer funded resources.

  • Bill Fox says:

    BTW, thanks for the post on the budget Lloyd. I know we cut more than some would like, and less than others would like. But it represents an honest effort to be fiscally responsible while maintaining the high quality of education that folks around here have grown accustomed to. In other words, we tried to keep the cuts out of the classroom. The budget is still an increase from last year, but it is less than the rate of growth plus inflation, and provides a raise for teachers to make us even more competitive in our recruitment efforts. In addition, we made some changes that will save us millions in the long run, like re-defining “full-time” and creating a tiered approach to determining the level of benefits that part-time employees receive. These generated no saving this year, because we grandfathered current employees (not my idea, but I couldn’t get these changes approved by the board without the grandfathering).

    We may face more cuts when we get to reconciliation. If/when that happens, we will continue to try to keep these cuts out of the classroom.

  • Eric the half a troll says:

    Bill as long as there are schools to be built in the west in the CIP, it would be fiscally irresponsible to do anything besides keeping the existing schools for future student loads. At best (from the standpoint of the “close ‘em now” crowd ) you should only mothball them until the load builds then reopen them. That’s an awful lot of boundary adjustments but to outright close them when you have plans to build more space is simply wasteful.

  • Eric the half a troll says:

    “I’m sure it was built on a premise of “equity”; that folks in the West deserved big shiny schools just like the folks in the East”

    Hardly, it and Mountain View were built to force this exact situation. Build excess capacity in the west in order to put pressure on closing the smaller community-based schools. I was there and I know what they did. Btw, “they” is Hatrick and Adamo. With the buy-in of the boards at the time. How much taxpayer money was wasted on that gambit? And they knew exactly what would happen because I told them in no uncertain terms.

    It would be a shame if this board continued the farce into the future. Hah…”equity”… As if…

    Bill I certainly hope you are not going to consult the very people who designed this scam to help you evaluate the schools they wish to close.

  • Local says:

    Ms. Munsey,

    I appreciate your posts. You frequently provide needed facts and figures and a sense of humor to keep it all in perspective.

    In the case of the small schools of western Loudoun, I have to disagree with you. Earlier you wrote:

    “. . . keeping a separate model running concurrently for the benefit of people who either moved into historic existing homes or built homes on former farmland is not a sustainable model, nor is it equitable.”

    My point was that the small schools of western Loudoun benefit all of Loudoun, not just local residents . I was glad to read that Mr. Fox recognizes that point.

  • Bill Fox says:

    Eric – I agree that if we were to close the small schools, only to be faced with building more western schools in the next 5-10 years, I personally would feel pretty foolish. I’m simply not sure that the population projections justify the new western schools on the CIP. However, I also don’t have a crystal ball, and either a housing boom or a baby boom in the west would certainly lead to this exact scenario.

    As for my comments about Culbert being built on the premise of “equity”, the quotes were meant to denote tongue-in-cheek; the pretenses given as opposed to the reality of the situation.

    And as to who I intend to consult in making my decisions, I will do my best to consider input, data and perspectives from ALL sources, as is my usual practice.

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    Local, I agree that they benefit the entire system by existing as paid off and functioning service delivery entities. HOW they do that within the system is open for discussion. As Mr. Fox notes, Lincoln serves a much larger community than simply the hamlet in which it is located (which pretty much negates Eric’s implication that it is serving primarily the community in which it exists–although if the majority of the students are being driven by their parents, under the previous open enrollment policy, he is correct that bus costs are not an issue. It’s a traffic issue, which is interesting in light of the massive traffic concerns raised to protest the small private school that sought the right to open there in a historic property that used to be a school too, in the historic past :) )

    As far as equity, that has taken many forms in the years I’ve been here. When new schools were being built for new growth, some in the rural area did raise their voices as to why certain things were included in newer models, when they did without; others didn’t see that as a matter of equity, but as waste to include them when they didn’t have them and didn’t consider them needed–that argument goes on today in a variety of forms! Some felt building schools at all for the “wrong” kind of growth was a waste–and it is interesting that some who espoused that position got here about five minutes before the people they were complaining about, but moved into a different kind of neighborhood. I’ve met some people who were born here who have much to say about how they welcomed the very people who turned around and started being ugly to others who moved here TOO.

    Equity came up in the suburban policy area with the newer schools here, between the older established neighborhoods and newer ones as well–why did thus-and-so school come designed with a weight room as part of their athletic and phys-ed component, and this older school (with prize-winning teams!) make do with a closet where they stored what free weights they had?

    The equity of size is a valid point, and goes to the heart of Eric’s arguments about sizing to community. The vestiges of the truly rural past that produced the small schools sometimes fosters the argument that, as he has repeatedly said, those schools are sized to their communities. That argument, about communities, doesn’t ever seem to transfer to the other parts of the county; if it did, we’d see the boundary disputes magically solved by locating schools in every community throughout the county–but to some, as I said, the newer subdivisions aren’t “real” communities, and their schools are a financial burden on everyone (apparently particularly those who go to paid off schools). Imagine the budget wars if the small school model were applied uniformly! But it won’t be, because those who chose to sprawl get cookie cutter megaschools to go with their cookie cutter houses, and lower density areas get a differing model, where some get to go to small schools, and others go to cookie cutter megaschools …to go with their cookie cutter houses.

    Bear in mind that I don’t necessarily think this is right or good, or that most people think this way–the fact is the vast majority of people in the county are NOT vocal and active on issues. But also bear in mind that I am only repeating some of the bizarre things that I’ve actually heard said and seen written over the last 16 years. I’ve seen worse, too–both from private citizens and public officials.

    It is an inequitable model in both the west and the county at large, and as Mr. Fox notes, the schools already built can’t be unbuilt. Growth will continue in both the low density areas and the area planned to absorb the rest of the growth the county will see–will the rural area start getting schools for each low density node and each existing hamlet? At what cost, and why, based simply on lot size? Will each subdivision in the suburban area get “their own” school retrofitted? At what cost?

    Not likely, I’m betting, in either area.

    Yes, the model is historic, but again, it is a PUBLIC system. The school in Licoln is not the property of the hamlet (and is populated primarily by people who don’t live there?). Stone Bridge doesn’t “belong” to Ashburn Farm exclusively simply because that’s where it is, just as Briar Woods isn’t reserved for Brambleton.

    I continue to hold the opinion that the small schools would be best utilized within the system as dispersed special needs centers, instead of considering the buildings so special that only a few people get to use them, as standard public schools within the larger system.

    I agree with Mr. Fox that Middleburg has done well to take the bull by the horns on their own school issues, and not because of Eric’s manufactured meme that I love charters. I admire that they’ve taken the step to become proactive in exploring ways to keep the school viable, as opposed to REacting as the subject of these schools grinds on. They’ve gone beyond the “special!” model, and are apparently taking steps to ensure that what they consider special and dear to them has a viable future that fits within the larger system. The PUBLIC one, that is supposed to treat everyone equally, no matter where they come from, where they live, what their families do, what kind of community they live in……..

  • Eric the 1/2 Troll says:

    Good God, Barb, you complain about strawmen when basically everything in you post is a strawman argument. Here is a prime example (one of VERY many):

    “The vestiges of the truly rural past that produced the small schools sometimes fosters the argument that, as he has repeatedly said, those schools are sized to their communities. That argument, about communities, doesn’t ever seem to transfer to the other parts of the county; if it did, we’d see the boundary disputes magically solved by locating schools in every community throughout the county–but to some, as I said, the newer subdivisions aren’t “real” communities, and their schools are a financial burden on everyone (apparently particularly those who go to paid off schools). ”

    No one said that every single community should have its very own school. None of the smaller schools inm teh west serve a single community exclusively. You know that, so you (as usual) argue the strawman in bad faith. The concept of sizing schools to the community is one of development density. The closer you can keep to the kids to their community and home, the better – especially in the elementary years. It increases everything that is a positive in education (parental involvement, a sense of belonging/group identity, local community support, more extracirricular opportunities, etc). You have that in the east and the smaller schools in the west have that. This is something that is more difficult to achieve in the larger regional clearinghouse schools of the west. Schools designed to match the community in which they are built – is that asking so much. And YES Lincoln is designed and fits very well in the community in which it is built. God, that bugs you!!

    “It is an inequitable model in both the west and the county at large, and as Mr. Fox notes, the schools already built can’t be unbuilt.”

    It is just as easy to shut down a wing of a school temporarily as it is to shut down an entire school and ship students elsewhere. It might even be a little easier on the kids involved (I know stop think about them as kids – they are bodies/numbers). But I am sure you would find it wasteful to build a school and then not use a wing of it…..hmmmm…think on that a moment…

    “Will each subdivision in the suburban area get “their own” school retrofitted? At what cost?

    Not likely, I’m betting, in either area.”

    Wow, you are actually recognizing and arguing against YOUR OWN strawman. That is really a new technique.

    “The school in Licoln is not the property of the hamlet …”

    Another strawman…

    “(and is populated primarily by people who don’t live there?).”

    Really? I heard Bill say about 30% come from out side the attendance area. I suppose in Barb’s world that is “primarily”.

    “The PUBLIC one, that is supposed to treat everyone equally, no matter where they come from, where they live, what their families do, what kind of community they live in……..”

    This brings up an interesting issue. Why do you think converting a school to a Charter school suddenly puts it in the “treated equitably” category? As Bill notes, no more or less will be spent on the school per student, the quality of education will not be any less “equitable”. The only thing that would change is the school would be taken off the chopping block each year. Why do you think thios change would suddenly make the school an “equitable” choice.

    Frankly, I am hoping that this is exactly what all the small western schools do when they see how it works for Middleburg(at least the smallest of the small). Of course that will still not solve the extra space issue, will it? Might as well shut down that wing of Culbert, eh?

  • Eric the 1/2 Troll says:

    Barb, I am assuming that Banneker is also on your list of schools to shutdown in the name of “equity” as well. OR is that a “special” case?

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    Eric, if the community needs to go outside the actual community to fill the “community sized” school, then what you’re talking about in terms of sizing is the size of the building–as has often been the case when any new school is proposed to deal with the growth west of 15. It is appropriate to have hamlet-sized buildings in hamlets, okay–now yes it will then logically follow that each hamlet, village, etc hets its own appropriately sized building–which will be filled via whatever method is necessary to justify the building. Tlak about arguing in circles with strawmen!

    Get the policy changed to your liking, then argue the cost effectiveness of it. And do stay focused on the charter issue–as far as I know, no one is talking about that but you, and the folks in Middleburg who have chosen to explore it. (p.s.–What problem do you have with the idea of dispersed special needs centers, where kids who may actually NEED that kind of model/atmosphere for their free and appropriate public education might fare better?)

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    re Banneker, um, where am I saying to shut any of them down? When has it been on the list as chronically underenrolled in recent years? I specifically said NOT to shut even the four down, as it would be prohibitive to bring them up to code to repurpose into something other than a school.

    Don’t bait me about different kinds of “special” Eric, when that is precisely the core of your argument, and always has been.

  • Hillsboro says:

    “Eric, if the community needs to go outside the actual community to fill the “community sized” school, then what you’re talking about in terms of sizing is the size of the building”

    This simply isn’t true. It is the size of the attendance area – not the size of the school.

    What you’re talking about in most cases is a gerrymandered attendance area specifically designed to fill the clearinghouse schools and to empty the small schools.

    Each morning, kids are bused past the less than half-full Hillsboro ES, driving an extra three miles to Mountain View. This affects kids on the south side of route 9 in homes both a bit east and a bit west of Hillsboro.

    A family living in the closest house to the east of Hillsboro ES — just a few hundred yards away — would see their kids hauled six and a half miles away to KW Culbert.

  • Eric the 1/2 Troll says:

    “When has it been on the list as chronically underenrolled in recent years?”

    So is this you determining factor today in allowing “inequitable” schools to exist? Glad you support Lincoln in its current function then because it is and will be fully utilized for the forseeable future. Now Culbert, apparently, should be closed.

  • Eric the 1/2 Troll says:

    “It is appropriate to have hamlet-sized buildings in hamlets…”

    Another strawman. As you have noted, Lincoln is not sized for just the town of Lincoln. It is sized for the town of Lincoln and a reasonable attendance area surrounding the community. As it should be. As they are in the east. Why do you want us to be treated differntly than you and your family and neighbors?

  • Eric the 1/2 Troll says:

    Hillsboro, I can tell you that if Barb’s kids or neighbors were treated in this way, she would be howling about it. As long as it is happening to the “western elitists” and their kids, she’s all hunkey dorey with it.

  • Eric the 1/2 Troll says:

    “…as far as I know, no one is talking about that but you, and the folks in Middleburg who have chosen to explore it…”

    Not reading what Bill wrote are you? You have referenced it several times on this thread and seem to think it is an acceptable thing to do with these schools. Is it or is it not, in your opinion, Barb? Is it an “equitable” solution in your mind and, if so, WHY?

    “(p.s.–What problem do you have with the idea of dispersed special needs centers, where kids who may actually NEED that kind of model/atmosphere for their free and appropriate public education might fare better?)”

    I don’t have a problem with it but I see no reason to convert a perfectly fine, fully functioning school to that specific need. Sounds like they have plenty of space for just such a “school within a school” at Culbert. Better special needs resources and facilities as well as infrastructure. Such a solution to this need that you identified (or is it created?) would have a much less disruptive effect on ALL the children involved (gosh, there I go think of them as human beings again) and would probably be more cost effective too. So you have a problem with this option because….?? Don’t worry, I know the answer, Lincoln would still be a successful public school.

  • FedUp says:

    Troll, I read that LTM article with the comment you referred to. It says Lincoln needs $310k in upgrades. That’s a lot of money for a 137 seat school! How much more in upgrades/renovations/ repairs will Lincoln and the rest of those old small schools need in the next decade? Is this just the “tip of the iceberg?” It doesn’t seem to make sense to me to spend a lot of money on capital improvements when there is excess capacity in that planning area and projected to be for quite a while.

  • BlackOut says:

    I think it best to leave special need issues to the professionals. In many of these cases I would think inclusion in normal environments is just as important as a focus on the issue. I’d like a professional to determine if isolation in mass is really something necessary and if so how many students are we talking?

    I also remember decades ago Fairfax County going through a similar exercise of closing smaller older schools that no longer were economically valid. Point being it eventually happens unless the county embraces small school for small community concepts. I bet continuing to go that way would cost a lot more money.

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    BlackOut, there are already needs met in environments other than full mainstreaming–at differing levels of special need too: we had a neighbor some years back whose severely autistic child left on a handicapped bus for Leesburg at the crack of dawn–long ride on bad roads for over 20 miles for that boy. Down here, the elementary G&T kids were bused away from school for their activities, unless they’re already at a host school.

    Eric, you can’t have it both ways–yes, you’re talking about the size of the building, which must be aesthetically concurrent with the size of the hamlet. Then the boundary must be (fluidly, with changing demographics and cohort) sized as needed to keep it full so that it can continue to serve a small cohort in the prescribed manner. Now, with fully open enrollment, problem solved, no doubt.

    Lori Waters said a prescient thing some years ago during the budget–she said we would need to address whether we are going to continue to try to be all things to all people. Yes, we will–maybe this year the can is kicked down the road again, and a sigh of relief is breathed. Meanwhile, it will continue to come up, and it remains to be seen how long the argument will remain effective that it must be so, because.

  • BlackOut says:

    I just recalled, Ashburn use to have one of these small schools, which was determined to no longer be economically feasible. It was closed and there was some who fought to keep it. But at the end of the day the right decision was made and I think there is a very high satisfaction in Ashburn with the current schools.

  • Eric the half a troll says:

    Barb, why are you changing what I say? I knw it feeds your need for straw but please try to control yourself. I will state agin:

    Lincoln is not sized for just the town of Lincoln. It is sized for the town of Lincoln and a reasonable attendance area surrounding the community. As it should be. As they are in the east. Why do you want us to be treated differntly than you and your family and neighbors?

  • Eric the half a troll says:

    FU, this school has provided free use to the tax payers of Loudoun for decades. Add to this the fact that (as Barb and other have noted) this facility will be upgraded by County taxpayers regardless of how it used. It seems like the upgrades for continued school use is less onerous than other uses – that is the impression I get in any case. In any case it is a moot point.

    As to the rest of the smaller elementary schools of western Loudoun, I believe that Hamilton and Waterford have been upgraded. I am not sure about Hillsboro or Banneker. Middleburg is no longer an issue, apparently.

  • Elder Berry says:

    Don’t cite Fairfax as a model to copy. Friend has three kids. Three count em three different schools. And that’s not from new construction, it’s from an administration that is full of idiots.

  • FedUp says:

    Troll, that’s assuming the county will use a former school building for some other purpose. If there is a need for a facility and a former school building is a good match, then it could be cheaper to make use of it rather than building a new facility or leasing some other building. Another possibility would be to lease or sell the ex-school building to a business. It’s a whole separate cost benefit analysis and to just dismiss the high capital costs of maintaining an old school building is ridiculous.

    I do like the idea of converting those small schools into charter schools.

  • BlackOut says:

    No refurb of the Ashburn School of any significant.

  • Eric the 1/2 Troll says:

    “Troll, that’s assuming the county will use a former school building for some other purpose.”

    The general consensus appears to be that that is exactly what will happen, FU.

    “I do like the idea of converting those small schools into charter schools.”

    Since Barb will not answer me on this, maybe you will. Why? What benefit do you see in doing this? I am not adverse to it (if only because it get these school off the chopping block each year) but I do not see the benefit to the county in doing it – to be honest.

  • Local says:

    Ms. Munsey,

    When you wrote . . .

    “I am only repeating some of the bizarre things that I’ve actually heard said and seen written over the last 16 years.”

    . . . on that we can agree.

Leave Comment