The Loudoun County School Board approved 14 recommendations and requests last week for legislation it is seeking from the General Assembly.
The requests range from full state funding for state-mandated programs to raising the legal drinking age to 21. The board's statements will be delivered to the county's three state legislators, Sen. Charles L. Waddell, a Democrat, and Dels. Kenneth B. Rollins and Rep. Robert T. Andrews, Republicans, during luncheon meetings in December, according to Superintendent Robert E. Butt.
The board adopted its first such legislative packet last year, said Gordon Fletcher, director of planning for the schools, after deciding that "Richmond needs to know how the School Board feels" on relevant issues.
Among statements termed "priority concerns," the board said the state should provide full funding for programs such as new state requirements for graduation, which went into effect this year, starting with current ninth graders. Increased course loads and enrollment resulting from the requirements (students must have 20 rather than 18 credits before graduating) are expected to necessitate hiring up to 16 new teachers next year, at a cost of about $320,000.
"We are saying, 'you've demanded it, fine, but you ought to pay for it like you said you were going to do,' " Butt said.
Among other issues, the board opposed state mandated salary increases for teachers, saying that such a mandate would "further dilute the present authority of local school boards," and, if not fully funded by the state, would force local boards to seek local funds to pay for the raises.
In addition, the board recommended that this General Assembly increase the state sales tax by one cent to help pay for costs entailed in the new graduation requirements.
The board also urged raising the legal drinking age to 21. Because some students are 19, raising the limit to 21 would prevent students who are now legally able to buy alcoholic beverages from supplying them to younger students, the board said.