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The Student News Site of Rock Ridge High School

THE BLAZE

The Student News Site of Rock Ridge High School

THE BLAZE

The Student News Site of Rock Ridge High School

THE BLAZE

School Board Clears Up Concerns in School Bus Safety , Converges on New Legislative Program

On Tuesday, Oct. 24, the Loudoun County School Board came together to address several issues concerning the School Psychologists Week proclamation, fund balance requests and budget change, and the adoption of a new legislative program.
During+the+Oct.+24+school+board+meeting%2C+members+discussed+budget+and+legislative+changes+for+the+upcoming+school+year%2C+clarified+uncertainties+about+bus+misconduct+and+security%2C+and+made+several+revisions+to+previous+policies.
Amelia Chen
During the Oct. 24 school board meeting, members discussed budget and legislative changes for the upcoming school year, clarified uncertainties about bus misconduct and security, and made several revisions to previous policies.

On Tuesday, Oct. 24, the school board discussed the adoption of a new legislative program, fund balance requests, revisions to previous policies, and the School Psychologists Week proclamation. 

Budget Changes and Bus Security:

The School Operating Fund, which oversees the education budget, requested a one-time payment of $6.6 million from the Loudoun County 2023 Fiscal Year plan (FY23) — or in other words, the budget plan from the 2023 fund balance. 

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The most important budget changes include where money is stated to be used for upgrading classroom equipment and adding resources to Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses. 

Two million dollars are going to finish any elementary school’s wireless upgrades that have been in progress. This item was removed from the FY24 budget to prioritize secondary education by removing their legacy-based controller system and upgrading their wireless access points.  

One million dollars of the requested $6.6 million are going to the adoption of new CTE textbooks and resources to add a variety of support for students who choose to take CTE courses countywide. 

One million dollars will go toward purchasing audio enhancements for classrooms to aid students with auditory disabilities; this includes speakers and mics installed in classrooms. This will be implemented in six schools (two high schools, two middle schools, two elementary schools) as a part of a pilot program to see if the technology is effective; if it is determined to be effective, the technology will be applied in other schools.

Six hundred thousand dollars will be allocated to installing bus security cameras. Upgraded camera systems on 300 school buses will enable immediate viewing, or live feed, access for safety and security, and dispatch via the installed WiFi system when responding to security threats and other safety incidents. It will also enable the transportation department to download video remotely “over the air” via WiFi, which was not previously available. This will allow principals to have a more immediate response to situations that could occur. With the conclusion of the board meeting, this request was approved and will take effect immediately. 

In addition to increased surveillance, a new bus discipline guideline and discipline education will go into effect.

The All-New Revamped 2024 Legislative Program:

The school board created a new legislative program for the 2024 school year. The board wants to provide more accessible mental health resources in response to the current mental health crisis that’s prominent in schools. 

To prevent poor academic performance from anxiety, stress, and depression, the board is seeking more funding for accessible therapy, intensive outpatient programs, group/individual counseling, and other physical and mental health services. 

Because of all of these expenditures, Loudoun County reported that students accumulated more than $130,000 in school meal debt. The school board plans to support federal and Commonwealth funding to provide all students with free meals for the duration of the school year.

The 23-24 school year opened with its teacher ranks at full capacity. Loudoun County plans to maintain its goal of  “recruit, hire, and retain a diverse, high-performing team of professionals.” To do this, the school board plans to use incentives, expand state funding, promote paid internships, update cost assumptions routinely, and implement a funding plan. In addition, they want to handle the substitute shortage alongside the inevitability of a teacher shortage.

Major Revisions:

The school board revised three policies in total at this meeting. The first revision they made was to policy 2010, regarding the legal status and authority of the school board, which essentially details how much power and rights they have in terms of Virginia law. These changes happened in consideration of the community’s and advisory committee’s feedback from Sept. 14 to Sept. 24. These changes mostly included changes to lunches, how much they cost, and the data on their nutritional value. This motion passed in a 6-1 vote.

The next revision the school board made was to Policy 3120, which deals with the powers and duties of the superintendent. These changes were also influenced by the community and the advisory committee during the same one-week period, and made sure that “specialized student support positions” were defined as “school social workers, school psychologists, school nurses, licensed behavior analysts, licensed assistant behavior analysts, and other licensed health and behavioral positions, which may either be employed by the School Board or provided through contracted services.” This clause allows the school board to identify critical shortages in those occupations and was unclear and understood formally as just pertaining to teachers and administrative personnel. This revision was passed 6-1 in a vote.

The final revision of the meeting was the revision to policy 6220, which concerns student safety and discipline on school buses. This policy had a host of changes with heavy feedback ranging from LCPS parents to the Loudoun Education Alliance of Families and the Equity Committee. The revisions addressed and cleared up any concerns about how students would be treated or dealt with if they needed to be disciplined. It also clarified any other comments and questions regarding student safety on school buses and how they would be disciplined or taken care of if a situation were to occur on an LCPS bus. These revisions allowed for more transparency from the school board to parents based on their feedback. This motion passed 7-0 in the vote. 

School Psychologists Week Proclamation:

The last action item at the school board meeting was the School Psychologists Week proclamation. To recognize the efforts and spread awareness of the contributions of school psychologists, the school board recognized Nov. 6-10 as School Psychologists Week in coinciding with the theme of the year “Let’s Grow Together” which, according to the board is “inspired by the importance of both personal and shared strengths in our growth as individuals and school communities in every season of life.” 

School psychologists are trained in prevention, intervention, assessment, and mental and behavioral health; the psychologists present in every LCPS school will ensure students can properly grow throughout their high school careers.

The next school board meeting will be held on Nov. 28.

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About the Contributors
Lucian Tiller, Opinion Editor
Lucian Tiller is a junior who has always liked reading about news and current events, and he thinks that it’s important for people to stay up to date about things that can impact them. Despite challenging deadlines, he also likes how the newspaper provides a service for the school, encouraging staffers to write about what they like. As Opinion Editor, he reminds staff that if you don’t write what you enjoy, it isn’t gonna be as good; plus, writing about stuff you like is easier, and you have fun while doing it.
Nidhi Manchala, Staff Writer
Nidhi is a junior at Rock Ridge and it is her third year as a member of The Blaze. Outside of school, Nidhi enjoys drawing. She prefers to keep her art private, and mostly doodles on work. Her favorite part of school is newspaper, which she actually joined on a whim as a freshman. Her favorite part of newspaper is the design aspect because she gets to put her art skills to use. Nidhi has spent this past summer studying for the SAT and taking care of her beloved dog. Nidhi aspires to be a psychiatrist when she’s older due to her interest in psychology. Nidhi is looking forward to college and the freedom that comes with it.
Bhargav Kuniki, Photo Editor
Bhargav is a junior and the Photo Editor on The Blaze. When he's not mountain biking, he's doing homework, playing basketball, or hanging out with his friends. His favorite food is homemade mashed potatoes with gravy. He joined the newspaper to be more involved in the inner workings of Rock Ridge. He's looking forward to the year and the exciting new stories to write.
Amelia Chen, Editor-in-Chief
Amelia is a senior and this is her third year on staff. She is SCA executive president, does rhythmic gymnastics, and loves blazing for "The Blaze." In her free time, Amelia likes listening to music, hanging out with friends, and cooking. Amelia can't wait to make her last year her best one! #SeniorSlay

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