The future of those two schools remains uncertain. Loudoun’s smallest and oldest schools have often been threatened during annual budget deliberations, possible closings that have historically been met with an impassioned response from the community. On Monday, some School Board members warned that the schools should not be expected to stay open for long.
Hatrick raised the issue at Monday’s meeting, noting that both schools have fewer than 60 students enrolled in kindergarten through fifth grade.
“When do we reach a point where a school is no longer financially viable or instructionally viable?” Hatrick said. “I understand the staffing concern. . . but it just shines a light once again on this issue. . . . How much longer can we support this model?”
School Board Member Bill Fox (Leesburg) agreed but said he wanted to support some community efforts to reorganize the elementary schools as charter schools.
“That’s the only reason I’ve not pushed for [closing the schools] at this point, and will continue to support these communities . . . so that they can come up with a viable model and really save those schools, hopefully in perpetuity so that we don’t have to be talking about this every year,” he said.
Board Member Jeff Morse (Dulles) said time was running out for the schools to get a charter program in place.
“I do not support keeping them open,” he said. “Without that charter, I do not see them staying open beyond this year.”
Deputy Superintendent Ned Waterhouse warned the board that the process of converting a school to a charter school was lengthy and complex, and he noted that although Middleburg is addressing the possibility, “they’re a long way from having an idea of what they might do.” He also said he was unaware of any such discussions among the Hillsboro Elementary community.
With the School Board’s adoption of the final reconciled budget, the school system’s funding will increase by 2.5 percent over the fiscal 2013 spending plan, as student enrollment is expected to increase by 3.8 percent.