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Loudoun County's school board has voted to eliminate nearly 70 positions for the coming school year, and that wasn't the only tough budget choice board members made at the meeting. In total, Loudoun school board members shaved $11 million off of Superintendent Ed Hatrick's proposed $831 million budget.
Large chunks of savings come from cutting the district's elementary school foreign language program back to just one day a week, which eliminates 35 jobs. Loudoun will also put off the implementation of full-day kindergarten for at least another year.
At-large school board member Thomas Reed disagreed with many of the amendments, and repeatedly complained that board members had not been given adequate time to examine the actual impact of the changes.
"This process tonight is horrible. It's absolutely horrible," Reed told board chair Eric Hornberger at one point.
Instead of the 3 percent across the board salary increase for cost of living that Hatrick had recommended, the board voted to give most employees a flat, $1,750 raise.
A proposal floated weeks ago to change the definition of full-time employment, which would have stripped many bus drivers and teacher's assistants of benefits, did not come up again at this week's meeting.
Though she was relieved to retain her full-time status, bus driver Jamie Mangovski said she thinks Loudoun can do better.
"I think that as the wealthiest county in the nation … it's pathetic that people are unwilling to pay their share of taxes to keep the schools running efficiently," she said.
But board member Bill Fox said its wrong to suggest the board is doing anything radical.
"Cutting 1.3 percent from a $830 million budget is not excessive," Fox said.
The district's budget doesn't become official until April, after county supervisors go through their budget process and decide exactly how much money the district is getting.