[Promoting this post to get the conversation going. I don’t agree with every point in this post, but I like the thoughts behind them! – Liz}
I’m going to upset a bunch of people, but guess what?..I don’t care. I don’t have a child in the LCPS system (yet), he is in a private Pre-K school and I do not work for LCPS. I’ve lived in the county since 1999 and the problems persist year after year. Buckle up and enjoy the ride.
The REAL State of LCPS Education, from a taxpayer’s perspective:
1. Teachers are horribly under paid and they are stretched far beyond any reasonable limits.
2. Furthermore, the teachers do not have adequate resources they need, and the LCPS Administration is either unwilling or unable to resolve this issue.
3. Parents/Tax Payers are required to pick up the financial deficiencies, because we are required to purchase the most basic classroom items for our children.
4. Dr Hatrick uses, and I mean uses, our children and teachers as pawns in his yearly money grab from the County’s overall budget. This practice is shameful and our kids/teachers should not be collateral damage or pawns in Dr. Hatrick’s political game.
5. Children spend their weekends and nights walking the streets of their neighborhoods selling fund-raiser “stuff”, because the LCPS Administration has not properly allocated funds for extra-curricular activities.
6. In the recent days Dr. Hatrick was quoted “Right now, we’re buying textbooks now just to say we buy them, and they’re not being used because they’re not up-to-date”. WTF? Really? Dr. Hatrick, here is a really novel idea; purchase a more sustainable technology such as iPads or other tablets which can download electronic versions of text books.
7. It is a fact, as cited in the published “State of Education”, that LCPS is the 4th largest school system in the entire state of Virginia, yet 50% of the schools recently failed to meet Federal standards. That is an embarrassment to the taxpayers. The LCPS Administration has failed our children.
8. As of 2011, LCPS does not have a specific school designated towards Innovation/Technology, yet Fairfax County’s flagship Thomas Jefferson school continues to be nationally recognized for their achievements. The children of Loudoun County deserve better than this.
9. The Busing/Walking programs. Good grief! Where do I start with this debacle? I recently discovered that the School Administration instituted such a poorly designed policy that it is angering thousands of parents. The “new” busing/walking policy is downright inefficient, a huge waste of gas, and just plain ridiculous.
10. LCPS Administration continues to make land acquisitions that are not only questionable, they are fiscally irresponsible. Why does the LCPS Administration continue to buy land at an inflated value, even after land appraisers report millions of dollars in devalue?
11. The schools that have been constructed in the past decade were modeled after 1980′s projected capacities. Which makes me wonder, why are the schools using the same cookie cutter mold for our new schools? Shouldn’t the new schools have a mandate that they build for 120% of capacity? For example: Briar Woods and Heritage High Schools have 10+ trailers on-site due to over capacity. At Freedom HS, the new freshman will go to Mercer MS for 1/2 of the school day. Bottom line is these newer high schools were built for a specific capacity and in a few short years it has proven to be inadequate. I am not a mathematician nor an architect (so I’m not that smart), but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Dr. Hatrick’s cookie cutter school no longer works. In the planning stages of constructing a new school, we need to build for actual capacity and over capacity. Otherwise our children will continue to suffer.
12. Yes, the “cost per child” has gone down slightly over the past 3 years — but the student enrollment has increased at a rapid rate and that can attribute to the lower cost per child. Certainly Dr. Hatrick has not made any drastic budget cuts to the “administrative” line items.
13. Our children and their parents are required to pay extra for AP classes, parking, sports , etc. A majority of our tax dollars go to the school budget, yet each year families spent an additional $1,500 to pay for their child’s extracurricular activities. Who knew that being really smart would require to you pay for Advance Placement classes?
14. LCPS administration should be looking into alternative fueled vehicles (buses,cars etc). And why are the tax payers paying mileage expenses for “in-county” travel?
15. If we are constructing new schools, why are we not requiring them to integrate solar power, re-filtered rain water systems etc or finding other kind of LEED/self sustaining construction?
16. Why is the LCPS Admin not evaluating a merit/incentive based pay for our teachers. Give the really exceptional teachers a cash incentive for their efforts. This boost moral and the under performing teachers will have more incentive to improve their performance. This is a net win for the teachers and our children.
17. The LCPS Admin should be looking into technology partnerships with Fortune 1000 companies. Let our children and teacher beta test emerging technologies.
18. Food/Nutrition: Our County still has strong agricultural roots. Why are we not utilizing the local farms to supplement our kid’s lunches with locally grown fruits/veggies? This approach would be cost effective, help out local farms and provide nutritional benefits for our kids. Again another net win for local farmers and our children. For example, a field trip for children to local farms to pick strawberries, apples, etc. This becomes a science lesson as well as teaching our children the value of food and sourcing sustainable food.
19. Start/Dismissal times. There are proven studies that later times (especially for teenagers) leads to better performance. Why does the LCPS Admin refuse to even entertain this topic? Full Day Kindergarten, in the immediate NoVA area I believe that Loudoun is the only school system that does not offer a full day program. And for that reason alone I am spending $24,000 a year to send my 4 year old to a private All-Day Kindergarten.
20. Student to Teacher ratio; everyone is getting harmed with the current ratio. Teachers are spread too thin and kids are getting lost in the “crowd”. The LCPS Admin needs to review their massive budget and hire more teachers. The Admin also needs to make some massive cuts to other wasteful programs and invest in the teachers/kids.
21. LCPS Administration needs to make a plea to the general business community. Requesting their help to supplement any budget short falls. Business could donate computers, tablets, software, chairs , etc. For goodness sakes we have the privilege to live in one of the richest Counties in the Country. The LCPS Administration just needs to ask and the business community would be more than willing to help .
22. Why is the LCPS Admin spending hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to send “Administrators” to feel-good conferences. I would fully support using “conference budget line item” and reallocating it to sending Teachers to career improvement classes or continued education.
23. School Board members seeking party endorsements for elections is just wrong. These positions should be comprised of principals, members of PTO, etc. I am concerned that the education of our children has turned into a political game, funded by anonymous PACs (Political Action Committees) or influential businesses. Too many former School Board members have gone on to work for the very same companies that generously donated to their campaigns. Doesn’t anyone see a problem with that?
24. School Security. I am thankful that our schools do not have metal detectors and are a relatively safe environment for our children and teachers. I am concerned that some schools do not have enough intervention type programs for drugs, gang violence and bullying.
25. Dr Hatrick’s immediate removal. For many of the reasons I have stated above and for reasons I have yet to state…he has got to go.
Bottom line is our children’s education in paramount and the LCPS Administration is failing our kids as well as our teachers. The Return on Investment should translate to higher scores and a world class school system. During the Hatrick era there is an appearance that our children have become secondary to his personal agenda.