As a member of the Loudoun County School Board for the past eight years, I am proud of what we have accomplished despite student growth coupled with budget decreases because of the recession. In those eight years, the student population increased 45 percent or an additional 19,000 students arrived and we built and opened 19 new schools. We provided two desperately needed new schools to the Blue Ridge District – Kenneth Culbert Elementary School and Woodgrove High School, despite lawsuits and many delays. We underwent two efficiency studies, one underwritten by the State by the MGT Company and one done of all the schools in the DC metropolitan area. Of the 60 recommendations of the MGT Company, we have changed procedures to comply with 45 of them; the only remaining savings to be realized is with the reform of the land acquisition and permitting process with the county which I am hopeful we can undertake with the new Board of Supervisors. The second efficiency study rated us second in the area with one of the lowest costs per pupil. Budget cuts by the State and local government resulted in an operating budget in 2011-2012 that we had in 2008-2009 when we were educating 9,000 fewer students. We are now sitting at a cost per pupil ($11,019) that we had also back in 2008, three years ago. This was accomplished by freezing teachers’ and staff salaries for three consecutive years and by increasing class sizes systemwide by two more children per class than we had in 2007. This increase in class size results in some elementary and high school classes in the 30s and some secondary teachers responsible for educating 150 students rather than 130. Many challenges lie ahead; we are behind in providing relief for overcrowded schools; we need to return to salaries that will retain experienced teachers and enable us to hire new college graduates; and we need to work toward returning class sizes to school board goals. In eight years we have improved graduation rates, narrowed the achievement gap, increased participation in AP and SAT college prep tests and have more students applying to college than ever before. I want to be a part of continuing the long line of education excellence that has been established while at the same time addressing areas that need improvement.
Priscilla B. Godfrey, Member of Loudoun County School Board 2004 to the present; resident of Philomont, VA for 32 years; mother of 3; member of Rotary Club of Purcellville, Loudoun Volunteer Financial Council and Philomont Ladies Auxiliary.