Letters sent to all Loudoun teachers warn of possible layoffs

Nearly 6,000 teachers and employees in Loudoun County received letters Wednesday notifying them that their positions could be eliminated.

As the school board tries to reconcile a $38 million gap between its proposed budget and what county supervisors appropriated this month, it is weighing scores of possible cuts, including eliminating many staff positions.

In reality, only a small number of employees are likely to be affected, but Virginia law requires that any licensed employees who could potentially be affected by a “reduction in force” must be notified within two weeks of the budget appropriation.

“This may feel like an over-reach or scatter shot [approach],” said Loudoun schools spokesman Wayde Byard, “but it’s better than having someone think they are safe, then getting a last minute notice.”

The board has a working list of proposed reductions, which includes about 400 full-time positions, including family life teachers, elementary library assistants, middle school deans, and technology assistants, among others. More positions could be added to the list and others removed before the board takes a final vote, possibly by the end of the month.

The school system is growing, so it is unlikely that anyone would be laid off, but new job assignments would be made based on seniority and recent evaluations.

As people move to new jobs, they could bump other people out of their positions, causing a chain reaction that led school officials to cast the widest possible net in terms of calculating who might be affected — every licensed staff member in the school district.

Faculty meetings were held this afternoon in schools around the county to inform teachers and staff of the pending cuts.

The Loudoun Board of Supervisors voted early this month to adopt a $1.9 billion budget for fiscal 2015 that included no property tax increase for the average homeowner.

The plan increases education spending by nearly $70 million but was $38 million short of what the schools requested to keep pace with booming enrollment growth.

The cuts follow several years of reductions in the per pupil spending, Byard said.

Michael Alison Chandler writes about schools and families in the Washington region.
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