Thousands of trees adorn the property of The Hill School in Middleburg, providing a peaceful, natural landscape for the school campus and an outdoor learning laboratory for the students.
Some of the trees at The Hill School Arboretum look as though they could have been there for a century. But less than three decades ago, the school was surrounded by hayfields and cornfields. A gift of land and the vision of a dedicated volunteer led to the establishment of the arboretum, school officials said.
About a dozen fourth- and fifth-graders attend voluntary Saturday morning classes at the Leesburg-area private school to learn how to understand and perform Shakespeare’s works. The school’s headmaster, Randy Hollister, leads the classes.
The spending plan provides funding to open several new facilities, give pay increases of 3 percent or more to county and school employees, and add hundreds of government and school staff positions. By lowering the real property tax rate 2 cents, to $1.125, the supervisors also reduced tax bills for most Loudoun homeowners.
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.
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.”
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.