A story in some editions of last week's Weekly said that the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors approved a motion that would return to the public schools any surplus over $350,000 from last year's school budget. The story should have said that any funds over $350,000 would be considered for a return to the schools.
The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors this week approved a modified version of School Superintendent Robert Butt's proposed school budget of nearly $53 million.
Although the supervisors cut $451,500 from the budget, teachers still will get the 11 percent pay increase Butt recommended. The purchase of four high school activities buses, five maintenance and transportation vehicles and several capital improvements, including roofing and paving, will be deferred until September, Butt said.
Although the supervisors' action on the budget is considered final, the final budget figure is contingent on state sales tax figures, which are due in June. According to county budget director Kirby Bowers, the staff predicts a $4.2 million total for the county's share this year, due to "the healthy economy." Last year's sales figures totaled $3.5 million.
In addition, the board approved a separate motion that would return to the schools any surplus over $350,000 from last year's school budget. A surplus of approximately $350,000 is estimated, school spokesman Molly Converse said. Ordinarily surplus funds are turned back to the supervisors and put into the general fund.
When the School Board approved the budget in February, it set some starting teachers' salaries at a figure higher than the one originally recommended by Butt. To accomplish the increase, which the board said was necessary to give Loudoun an edge in competition with surrounding counties to attract new teachers, the School Board eliminated two assistant principal jobs.
The pay raises will go to teachers on all educational levels and will bring salaries for new teachers in line with those paid in Arlington, Fairfax and Prince William counties and Alexandria. Teachers with a Virginia Education Certificate will receive $17,520, the same as teachers with a bachelor's degree. Butt said he is optimistic that the deferred items will be back in the budget by late September. "It's a good basic budget," he said. "And I feel very good about it."
In other business, the board approved a rezoning request that will bring more subsidized housing for the elderly into the county. The U.S. Steel Realty Development Corp. requested the rezoning to allow the Sterling Park United Methodist Housing Development to buy a three-acre parcel to build a 91-unit apartment complex for the elderly and the handicapped.
The sale of the property was contingent on rezoning, according to the county planning staff. The apartment complex, the second of its kind in Loudoun, has been on the drawing board for two years but the necessary grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development was awarded both times to counties outside Northern Virginia.
"This year the application has improved a little and the amount of need has increased," said county housing coordinator Sandra Shope. "I think HUD will tell us it's our turn."
More than 6,300 of the county's nearly 64,000 residents are 60 or older, Shope said. The only other housing for the elderly and the handicapped in Loudoun is Leesburg's 100-unit Madison House, which has a two-year waiting list, according to manager Eddie Hooks.
"One little man came in this week and showed me an award he'd won to prove what a fine tenant he'd make," Hooks said. "It broke my heart but I still had to tell him he'd have to go on the waiting list."
Madison House is coowned by the United Methodist Church.
Although the planning and zoning department rushed through the zoning request -- it took two months compared to the usual four to six -- so the Methodist church could meet HUD's May 15 application deadline, Shope said the housing still won't be ready for two years. "It's a long wait but we've waited this long. And you have to start someplace."