Monday, June 23, 2014

End of Year Comments from LEA President


            As I reflect on the 2013 – 14 school year, I am reminded of our many successes. Our students and staff members have been recognized for their excellence locally and nationally. You have completed another year positively influencing the life of a child.  Whether certified or classified, full or part time, we all contribute to the success of our school system and our students.
This year has also posed challenges. We were faced with the most difficult budget year in the history of LCPS. For 2013 –14, LCPS was forced to cut an additional $38 million from a unanimously approved “needs based” budget due to the Board of Supervisors’ refusal to listen to overwhelmingly supportive public opinion.
Last year I stated that actions of the past could no longer be the standard.   One of the most critical areas of concern was the need for additional member and community involvement in the budget process.  We could no longer allow statements like “It doesn't matter what I do. It won't make a difference” to be the norm.  As educators, we craft the future of our community and our students depend on us to make a difference.  LEA has taken major steps in accomplishing this goal.  Coalitions are gaining strength throughout Loudoun County and some outside of our local area as well.  Currently, there are over 9,000 employees, parents, community leaders and organizations that have expressed an interest in working with LEA to make Loudoun public schools stronger.  It was through these efforts that we were able to convince the School Board to submit a budget to the Board of Supervisors without making early cuts.  This is only the beginning.  The LEA will continue to build partnerships to promote the welfare of LCPS students and employees. 
One of our priorities for the FY15 budget was a reduction in Elementary class sizes, which was accomplished.  Elementary principals have informed me that they have received additional FY15 staffing to meet the new requirements.  Our next step is to start working on Middle and High School class size reductions. 
Another priority was employee salaries.  The LEA worked diligently with School Board members to ensure the LCPS salary scale more closely aligned with neighboring districts.  When the Board of Supervisors failed to fully fund the budget, any changes to employee salaries were in serious jeopardy.  By waiting until November, step raises were reinstated and the middle scale “sag” was addressed. It is my hope that next year we will address the top steps that did not receive a large increase this year.   The School Board also committed to step increases next year as well.  
So what now? We need to start taking action now to prepare for next year’s budget fight.  Help us develop a plan to hold the Board of Supervisors accountable and fund high quality education for Loudoun County students.  Get involved!  It is only through YOUR efforts that we can be a power in Loudoun County.  Go to http://form.jotformpro.com/form/40914635135957 and pledge your support.
It is truly an honor to be a part of the LEA family. I offer my gratitude to every one of you for your dedication to students and this community. I value your patience during these times of change. I feel fortunate to work with such amazing members.
We have worked hard and should take a moment to be proud of our accomplishments this year as a community of fellow association members. I thank you for your commitment to your students, profession and your professional association. Have a safe and restful summer with your loved ones. Please take care of yourselves, your families and your friends. See you in August!
 
 
Joey Mathews
President
Loudoun Education Association