Are Private Schools In Loudoun Also Facing Budget Cuts?

The Foxcroft School in Middleburg says it is at full enrollment.
The Foxcroft School in Middleburg says it is at full enrollment. (By Jonathan Ernst For The Washington Post)
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By Erica Garman
Sunday, January 25, 2009

Living in LoCo is Erica Garman's blog devoted to news about Loudoun County. You can find it at http://www.loudounextra.com. This column of highlights appears every Sunday.

With Loudoun County school employees, students and parents bracing for budget cuts in the public school system, I was curious about whether Loudoun's private schools are in similar straits.

Private schools typically rely on tuition, endowments and fundraising to meet their budgets. How has the economy affected these schools, if at all?

Because January and February are when independent schools begin the enrollment process, final student numbers for next year aren't known. Still, I thought I'd talk with some administrators about whether parents might be deciding, for financial reasons, that it would be prudent to take their children out of private schools and place them in a public alternative.

Randall Hollister, headmaster of Loudoun Country Day School in Leesburg, said he's seeing the other side of the equation. He said his office has had an increase in calls from parents who say they are worried that the public schools will cut items they want for their children -- such as foreign language programs, enrichment activities and smaller class sizes -- and are thinking of switching to a private school.

"For some families, the recession has not dramatically affected them as it has others," he said.

Deep Sran, principal and owner of Ideal Schools in Ashburn, echoed Hollister's observation.

Based on hits to his school's Web site and phone inquiries, he has seen more interest from Loudoun parents, not less, since the Loudoun public schools announced potential budget cuts for the fall.

"The question will be how many will actually enroll," Sran said. "We'll know better as we get closer to summer."

Assistant Headmaster Treavor Lord of the Hill School in Middleburg said he hasn't seen a substantial economic effect from the recession. The school, which serves students in kindergarten through eighth grade, is at capacity, with 240 students. "We typically only lose students when a family moves," he said.

Cathrine Wolf, director of communications for the Foxcroft School, also in Middleburg, said that the school is also at full enrollment. But, as at other private institutions, the endowment is down. As a result, Wolf said, the school has become more mindful of its spending and plans to offer more low- and no-cost activities to its students.


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