Board gets a failing grade on schools

One Student’s Plea for saving Lincoln Elementary School!

One Student’s Plea for saving Lincoln Elementary School!

Our Loudoun County Board of Supervisors is poised to close four community schools to save what they spent on the Redskins – two million dollars.

The Board calls this “budgeting.”

I call it government mismanagement, preferring games over grades, and fail the Board for its gross mishandling of a core governmental function, how we rightly educate our children.

In 2012, our football sycophantic Board of Supervisors promised to pay Danny “Redskin” Snyder two million dollars to sell Loudoun as the home of the Redskins; in the bargain, the County got game tix, and a classy suite like political big shots crave to watch pro ball games.

(Not to be too much of a buzz kill, but don’t the Redskins now rehearse their winning team form in Richmond, and not Ashburn?)

Now we want to close these four elementary community schools in Aldie, Hamilton, Hillsboro and Lincoln, the oldest of these founded in 1840 and the newest in 1922, because these closures will save the County two million dollars of a school budget shortfall of thirty eight million dollars, because the proposed budget was irresponsibly shrunken by the Board, making these misguided cuts by our School Board “necessary.”

Outgoing School Superintendent Hatrick, to his credit, fired away, rightly charging in the most forceful language that this Board has created an “artificial crisis,” as 2,000 more students enter our countywide school system, and “willfully chosen not to listen to the public, not to listen to the School Board about the funding that is needed for next year for this school system.”

We know politicians talk out the side of their mouth, promising our kids good schools, but it’s especially vile when they double cross children and trash their community schools.

The “offense” these four schools share is that they don’t conform with the one size fits all large schools that are the modern model.  They are distinct, small, in rural areas, with a tradition of historic continuity, in a somewhat disposable society, yet cheaper in several cases than the county average cost per pupil, they teach our children well, enforce good and honest behavior, enjoy heavy involvement by the parents, are close to the rural communities, indeed physically closer to the towns where the children live, with parents who went to these same schools, as did their parents, siblings and friends, going back years, to the 1840s in the case of Hillsboro.

Many of us located in Western Loudoun because this traditional close-knit, long-lasting community was what we wanted for our families.

There have been communities started anew in Loudoun, especially in the East, and, in those cases, the inhabitants get to create a community.

But that’s not what’s happening at these four schools in Western Loudoun, and all the families are asking is that the rest of the County respect what they’ve built over the decades and the fact that it works for their children.

My daughter, Diana, attended Lincoln Elementary School.  The town of Lincoln is special, settled in 1741.  The Janney family is an honorable historic family and been a wonderful vitalizing influence in Lincoln and the County. I know best therefore what the Lincoln school is about, of its fine teachers, and how its served the community. It’s most like an extended family.  Funny, how we have politicians who mouth the words, “family values,” as the effective prescription for what ails the ills of modern culture, until we’re sick of hearing it, especially when we have a case like this when we can judge by their cold heart that what they say is just so much hot air.

The students themselves at Lincoln know better, and have made posters protesting that the County “save” their school.  They will never forget what this government is doing.  Nor will they forgive when they consider this chapter in their life should the schools be closed.  The streets of Lincoln are lined with posters, some printed, many hand made, “Save Our Kids,” another, “Vote for Schools.”  You may have seen them.  They are in all four neighborhoods.  There’s a petition on the door of the Lincoln Post Office, to “help keep Lincoln Elementary School Open.”

Imagine what the parents thought, what you would think, when receiving a notice in the mail that read, “the Loudoun County School Board is considering the closing of Aldie, Hamilton, Hillsboro, and Lincoln Elementary Schools.”

If that is not a chilling note for student and parent alike, the next sentence in the language of the cold-hearted bureaucrat surely was, “the closing of these elementary schools would require attendance zone adjustments.”

I’ll tell you the “adjustments” we need, and that we can make, it is to succeed this Board, all of them, with elected officials who “get it,” and not just a community’s historical connection to a school, but that people matter, children matter, and that they can’t dictate what they’re going to do to our children this way.  I’ve sat back watching these bad decisions, one after another, but if this one goes through, closing these schools, we have to re-consider how we elect a new Board that knows what’s important.  Among those concerns are our children and their education, and a long way down the list, I’d ascribe an imaginary number in importance, is anything have to do with a suite at a Redskins game.