Guest blogger Beth Barts provides her perspective on an issue that relates to all tax paying residents of Loudoun County, not just those of us with school age children.
As a Loudoun homeowner for over 20 years, having our real estate taxes help fund our local schools was something that we are proud of. As a parent of two LCPS children and a former LCPS educator, watching the growth in Loudoun and the new schools being built came with its own set of struggles at times, but was also a promise that we were investing in our communities and our children. Education was and is a priority among Loudoun families.
As the Academies of Loudoun (AOL) prepare to open their doors this coming August, the question of continuing to send 240 of our students out of Loudoun into Fairfax to Thomas Jefferson is now a reality. The cost is not cheap, over 4.3 million dollars is sent to Fairfax and we pay over 500K in transportation. We are also paying a portion of the 76 million dollar renovation at Thomas Jefferson.
In January of 2013 our current chairman of the Loudoun County School Board was quoted in the Washington Post “We want to pursue a program that is equal in stature and depth to that of TJ, and we want to provide that in Loudoun” Jeff Morse (Dulles). More than a year later, after many public meetings and strategic planning sessions, a 162.9 million dollar bond referendum came before the voters. Loudoun County Public Schools urged the passage of the referendum in a mailer to voters. We voted as a community to approve the purchase of bonds to use to fund the
Academies of Loudoun combining the expanded versions of the existing Academy of Science (opened in 2003) , Monroe Technologies Center (opened in 1977) as well as the new Academy of Engineering and Technology. We shared by our vote that we felt investing over 100 million dollars back in our community in the form of state of the art facility to offer advanced programs and STEM to our students was a priority. While the facility could have been built without voter approval, it would have cost more and been delayed. At the ground breaking of AOL on June 6, 2016 the Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Ralph M. Buona said… “We’re going to bring all our kids home from Thomas Jefferson” “This is monumental”.
As this issue comes before the LCPS school board next spring we need to remind our representatives that the voters made a leap of faith with our vote to fund AOL. We believe in our students, staff and partnerships within the Loudoun Community and we expect them to also.