Loudoun County School Superintendent Robert Butt presented the School Board with a nearly $60 million budget request last week that includes funding for 32 new teaching positions and offers medical benefits to school bus drivers for the first time.
The 1986-87 budget is $6.7 million over the current budget and would require a $4 million increase in local funds.
New teachers are needed, Butt said, because of Loudoun's residential growth. If approved by the School Board and county supervisors, the current real estate tax of $1.13 per $100 of assessed value could increase to $1.17.
In January, Butt told the School Board and the supervisors that a $45 million construction program will be necessary to handle the growth in Loudoun's school-age population. Five new schools, three elementary, one middle and one high school, probably will be funded through a bond referendum.
School officials project an increase of 665 students over this year's student population of 13,000.
"And that was before the Ashburn Village rezoning," a school spokesman said. Last year, 150 students were added to school rolls.
In addition, Butt asked for an 11 percent increase in teachers' salaries and a $20,000 starting salary for beginning teachers, a $2,500 increase over current beginning salaries. The increases were recommended by the board's compensation committee, he said, and are proposed in order to make Loudoun teachers' salaries competitive with those paid by government, business and industry in the Washington metropolitan area.
On Saturday, the board held the first of two public working sessions scheduled to discuss the budget before it comes up for a vote Feb. 11. Three board members said that they favor the increase in beginning teachers' salaries, while three remain undecided and Chairman Warren Braham opposed it.
"We're going to need five new schools and will need teachers to staff them," he said. "What if we get down the road and discover we can't afford that kind of raise?"
Braham said competing with teachers' salaries in Fairfax, Alexandria and Arlington is unfair because that area of Northern Virginia has one of the highest per capita incomes and one of the highest real estate tax rates in the country.
For the first time, school bus drivers will be given the opportunity to participate in the School Board's Blue Cross-Blue Shield health insurance plan, an option already available to cafeteria personnel and other classified staff.
The Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on the budget in May.