Loudoun proposes $2.5 billion budget

Loudoun County Administrator Tim Hemstreet kicked off the county’s annual budget review process Wednesday by presenting a proposed spending plan for fiscal 2018 that funds almost all of the school system’s request and provides staffing for several new facilities while holding property tax bills steady.

The $2.5 billion budget complies with the Board of Supervisors’ demand for a plan that avoids increasing the average homeowners’ tax bills. It would boost local funding by $61 million for the school system and $27.7 million for the general county government.

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The Washington Post, Feb. 19, 2017

H.S. performance of Ghost the Musical draws notice

A special guest was watching Jan. 27 as students from Rock Ridge High School in Ashburn gave a spirited performance of “Ghost the Musical.”

Jim Hoare, an executive with Theatrical Rights Worldwide, traveled from New York to view the students’ interpretation of a version of the Broadway musical that was adapted for use by high school theater groups. He wanted to observe several innovations the students made in set design and stagecraft, to see whether other schools could also use them.

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The Washington Post, Feb. 5, 2017

Sterling school holds mock election

Hundreds of voters showed up at Potowmack Elementary School on Oct. 28, stated their address, logged on to an election website and cast their vote for president of the United States.

Although their votes won’t decide who will be the next president — it being a mock election — students at the Sterling school got a taste of how America’s brand of democracy works.

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Washington Post, Nov. 6, 2016

Deputies learning about autism

Drew Gutenson loves to talk about his collection of prescription eyeglasses and his fondness for playgrounds — slides, swings, trampolines and zip lines.

Gutenson, who describes himself as a high-functioning adult with autism, knows that some skills are particularly challenging for him, such as sensing when people don’t want to talk to him. He also understands that his fondness for playgrounds can be a source of concern for those who don’t know him.

“I have a beard,” he said. “If they see an older adult with a beard on a playground, most people think it’s not good at all.”

Gutenson, 25, of Lovettsville spoke to a group of 14 sheriff’s deputies and other criminal justice professionals in Leesburg on Tuesday at the advocacy group the Arc of Loudoun on Paxton Campus, a nonprofit organization that provides educational programs and other services for people with disabilities.

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Turf battle over athletic fields

Turf battles between the Loudoun Board of Supervisors and the county school board are nothing new, but now the boards are tussling over the turf itself, as they debate whether artificial and natural turf athletic fields at high schools should be tested for potentially harmful chemicals.

The supervisors have expressed interest in testing three synthetic turf fields, but the school board has insisted that an equal number of natural turf fields also be examined so as to make a comparison. Supervisors have responded that testing the natural fields is unnecessary and that the additional requirement was concocted by the school board to kill the initiative altogether.

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Washington Post, October 2, 2016

Q & A with Principal of Madison’s Trust

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David Stewart, Principal of Madison’s Trust

Madison’s Trust Elementary in Brambleton will become Loudoun’s newest school when students return to classes Aug. 29.

The school’s name refers to a notable incident during the War of 1812, when the British burned the White House, and important government documents were temporarily hidden in Loudoun County. The word “trust” refers to the faith President James Madison placed in Loudoun residents to keep the records safe, county public schools spokesman Wayde Byard said.

David Stewart is the school’s principal. Stewart, 43, comes to Madison’s Trust from Guilford Elementary School in Sterling, where he was principal for 10 years. Before that, he taught fourth and fifth grades in Spotsylvania and Loudoun counties, and he was assistant principal at Cedar Lane Elementary School in Ashburn.

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Prom to benefit childhood cancer charities

There will be gowns and tuxedos, limousines and a catered dinner, chandeliers and a disc jockey. There will also be hats. Lots of hats.

But Freedom High School in South Riding will not be having a typical prom this year. The school has decided that all the money that would usually be spent to create an evening of luxury and entertainment for students will be used to fight childhood cancer.

Instead of a fancy hotel, Saturday’s prom will take place at the high school, where the cafeteria and gym will be transformed into a dining room and ballroom.

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Washington Post, April 17, 2016

Loudoun supervisors adopt budget

Torn between the competing goals of fully funding the school board’s budget request and avoiding a tax increase, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors settled on a compromise spending plan Tuesday for fiscal 2017.

Three Republican supervisors joined three Democrats to approve a $2.46 billion budget that slightly raises the real property tax rate but falls about $16.9 million short of the school board’s request. The school board is now considering options for closing the gap.

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Washington Post, April 10, 2016

 

Walking to prevent teen suicide

On Wednesday, Woodgrove students and staff members will take part in a 1.5-mile “We’re All Human” walk to raise awareness of teen suicide. The walk will be co-sponsored by the Ryan Bartel Foundation, which was created by Ryan’s parents to help prevent such deaths. Organizers say they hope the walk will encourage students who are considering taking their lives to reach out for help.

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Washington Post, April 3, 2016

Students guiding students

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From left: Maria Brock, Nia Dumas and Noelle Branch lead a seminar on AP classes.

A dozen students had crowded into a small conference room at Loudoun County High School in Leesburg last month to learn about Advanced Placement classes.

Unlike similar sessions — typically led by teachers or counselors — the seminar was conducted by four student leaders who, collectively, had taken nearly every AP test the school offers. They stood at the front of the darkened room, delivering a slide presentation and sharing their experiences with the underclassmen.

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Washington Post, March 6, 2016