Vote Eric Hornberger

Vote Eric Hornberger Eric is honored to represent the Ashburn District on the Loudoun County School Board, after being elected to a second, four-year term in November 2015. Eric is seeking re-election on November 5, 2019.

Eric was elected to the Loudoun County School Board on November 8, 2011 to represent the residents of the newly-created Ashburn District. He was sworn-in on January 3, 2012 and immediately elected Chairman of the School Board by his Board colleagues. He was subsequently re-elected annually to serve as the Board's Chairman from 2013-2016. Eric has served on the Board's Joint Committee of the School Board & Board of Supervisors, Student Supports & Services Committee, Charter School Committee, Curriculum & Instruction Committee, Legislative and Policy Committee, Charter School Committee and Ad Hoc Committee on Academies of Loudoun, which he has chaired since its formation in 2013. Eric currently serves on the Legislative & Policy Committee, and chairs both the Curriculum & Instruction and Ad Hoc Committee on the Academies of Loudoun. Eric has been an active member of the Ashburn community since relocating to the area with his family from Singapore in 2004. Most recently he served as the President of the Ashburn Farm Association (HOA) Board of Trustees. Prior to that, Eric served as a parent activist and leader of Ashburn Farm Parents United, successfully advocating for community-based schools and sensible school boundaries for the greater Ashburn area. His work, as well as that of others, has directly lead to priority given to the construction of three new schools in the Ashburn area - Discovery Elementary School (ES-22), Trailside Middle School (MS-6) and Riverside High School (HS-8) - to bring much needed school facilities to northern Ashburn's students at all grade levels to end chronic overcrowding and school attendance rezoning in the northern Ashburn area. Involvement with Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) in a family affair for the Hornbergers. His wife of 24 years - Paula - serves as a teacher within Loudoun County Public Schools. Eric and Paula's three children have either graduated from or currently attend local public schools. Professionally, Eric is Executive Director of a private family foundation based in Northern Virginia, where he has worked for over 20 years. His work involves managing a number grant and scholarship initiatives worldwide. He led the Foundation's efforts to establishment international field offices in Mumbai, Manila, Hong Kong, Jakarta and Cairo and continues to travel frequently to Asia and the Middle East. Prior to his work with the Mustard Seed Foundation, Eric served as a Program Manager at Peace Corps headquarters in the Office of Private Sector Relations in Washington, DC and as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Guinea, West Africa from 1990-1992, shortly after graduating from college. Eric has a MA in International Affairs from The American University in Washington, DC and a bachelor's degree in History/Political Science from Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, CA. He also pursued coursework at Mira Costa Community College, The American University in Cairo, Georgetown University, and the University of California, San Diego.

BOARD MEETING HIGHLIGHTS (6/11/2019 & 6/25/2019)Below are highlights from the School Board’s regular business meetings...
07/27/2019
www.boarddocs.com

BOARD MEETING HIGHLIGHTS (6/11/2019 & 6/25/2019)

Below are highlights from the School Board’s regular business meetings in June. Work related international travel, unfortunately, precluded my ability to attend the second meeting in June:

NEW APPOINTMENTS/PERSONNEL ACTIONS:
The Board unanimously approved the recommended appointment of Kate Johnson to become the next principal of Belmont Ridge MS. Ms. Johnson comes to Belmont Ridge MS after five and a half years of services as an Assistant Principal at Harper Park MS and previous work as a Dean at Blue Ridge MS, Teacher at Eagle Ridge MS and previous teaching experience in New York. She has her Master’s degree in Secondary Education from Hofstra University (NY), and Certificate in Educational Leadership from George Mason University. Kate Johnson’s appointment follows Dr. Hitchman departure to come the principal to the new Lightridge HS.

The Board also unanimously approved the recommended appointment of Dr. Patricia Nelson to become the next Director for Special Education, following Dr. Suzanne Jimenez’s retirement earlier this year. Dr. Nelson comes to LCPS from Montgomery County (VA) and Shenandoah County where she served in a similar role for seven years. Her previous experience also includes significant teaching and administrative experience in Special Education in other counties in Virginia and New York, including NYC.

The Board also recognized the retirement of Mr. James Dallas. Mr. Dallas retired as the Director of Teaching and Learning within the Department of Instruction, after having successfully served as the principal of both Cedar Lane ES and Discovery ES within the Ashburn District. Mr. Dallas was well loved and respected within LCPS and the Ashburn District in particular and will be greatly missed. We wish him all the best as he relocates to South Carolina!

DRAFT STRATEGIC ACTIONS ADOPTED:
The Board unanimously adopted a list of initial Strategic Action topics to guide LCPS in the upcoming years. The list was largely developed at a work session of the Board on May 7 and discussed over two subsequent Board meetings. The list includes the following topics: Communication, Competitive Compensation, Gifted Education, Performance Assessments, Personalized Learning, Professional Learning, Project-based Learning, Recruitment and Retention, Social-emotional Learning & Mental Wellness, and Safety & Security. While it is possible that additional topics will be added over the course of the next year, staff will begin developing Strategic Actions around these topics for Board approval later this fall.

In the process of developing this initial list, the Board spent considerable time discussing whether or not to initially include new Strategic Actions related to Equity and Inclusion. The majority of the Board, including myself, felt it better to follow-up with the ongoing work of the Equity Ad Hoc and Special Education Ad Hoc Committee to determine how best to incorporate their recommendations before beginning to draft separate Strategic Actions. In the case of Equity, it might be preferable to incorporate this topic within other Strategic Actions, rather than establish a separate Strategic Action. In the case of Inclusion, it may be preferable to have a broader Strategic Action related to Special Education, like Gifted Education, rather than to focus exclusively on the topic of Inclusion alone.

SPECIAL EDUCATION AD HOC RECOMMENDATIONS:
The Board received the final report from the Special Education Ad Hoc Committee following the conclusion of its year-long work. The final report includes a list of 17 specific recommendations that, for the most part, were nearly unanimously adopted by the 19 members of the committee. These recommendations join five others that were previously provided by the Committee in late November 2018 and already being undertaken by LCPS. The recommendations included as part of the final report include four related to fostering effective communication, eight related to enhancing greater consistency in service delivery, and five related to establishing greater constructive engagement with the community. A particular emphasis on additional classroom and program supports, as well as the need for ongoing professional development, appear to feature prominently among the recommendations.

There were only two of the 17 recommendations that were not unanimously adopted by the committee. These were in relation to the recommendation to reconsider the hiring of a “neutral, independent of LCPS, ombudsman position within 12 months” which was narrowly adopted by a 9-7-0-3 vote and the 14-2-0-3 recommendation of the hiring of additional Special Education Deans to support expanded special education programs at the elementary and middle school levels (Special Education Deans already exist at all high schools and some middle schools).

This final report will help guide further actions by the Board, likely through its Student Support & Services Committee and/or next budget cycle, as well as the LCPS Administration. They will also likely be further discussed in collaboration with SEAC in the coming months. The full final report, which also summarizes the committee’s preliminary recommendations from November 2018 and status update on their implementation, is posted on BoardDocs for the Board meeting on 6/24/2019.

I look forward to further discussions with fellow Board, community members and staff on how best to follow-up on these thoughtful recommendations to further improve the quality and consistency of services to our students with special needs. I am grateful for the committee and the constructive feedback from the community received through it.


STOP ARM CAMERA PILOT PURSUED:
The Board approved through its Consent Agenda a request to the Board of Supervisors to adopt local ordinance 466.07 enabling the use of video-monitoring systems. This local ordinance is needed to enable a joint feasibility study between LCPS and the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office and town police departments on the frequency of traffic violations associated with school bus stop arms. During the feasibility study, no violations will be issued. However, data will be collected that could be used to justify the installation of an active future school bus video-monitoring program (aka Stop Arm Cameras) that are already place in other school divisions in Virginia and throughout the country to enhance legal compliance to keep students safe when loading and unloading from school buses.

STUDENT SUSPENSION POLICIES REFERRED:
The Board voted to refer back to the Discipline Committee recommended revisions to existing policies related to student suspensions from school. Significant modification to existing policies (8-27, 8-28 and 2-27) were incorporated in policy revisions recommended by the Discipline Committee in the form of revised Policy 8220 on Student Suspension from School and 8230 on Appeal Hearings – Student Discipline.

While the vast majority of the recommended revisions were widely embraced by the Board, I and other members expressed concern over an apparent lack of due process in the provision of suspensions from school in the existing and revised policies. Under the existing policy, a student is typically given a short-term suspension by a school principal prior to being given an opportunity for appeal. This somewhat negates the benefit of having an appeal process. The recommended revision of the policy provides for the potential of a delayed in the implementation of short-term suspension pending an appeal. Several Board members, including myself, would prefer to go further and encourage or even require delayed implementation for most non-violent infractions to allow for a reasonable opportunity for appeal. Rather than trying to revise the policy during the meeting, the Board voted to have the Discipline Committee further refine the recommended policy revisions to incorporate the clear will of the majority, if not unanimous, perspective of the Board.

NO BACK TO SCHOOL VIDEOS:
After much discussion, the Board voted unanimously to not record or distribute collective or individual “Back to School Night” video remarks this year. The Board was unanimous in its agreement for the need to better safeguard parent and teacher time at school-based events at the start of the school year. It disagreed somewhat, however, on how to most appropriately do that. I believe that a short, single Board member video was appropriate, similar to what was done a few years ago though a coordinated schedule. However, a majority of the Board could not agree on a plan to limit videos to only one Board member, in light of the fact that most schools are represented by three or more Board members, including the At-Large Member. In the end, the majority agreed that it was better to have no videos than have more than one and to allow principals discretion on in-person remarks or introductions made at their own schools.

NEW AND REVISED POLICIES:
The Board unanimously adopted a number of new policies or revisions to existing policies as part of its ongoing efforts to thoroughly review all policies and make them more comprehensive and transparent.

The Board approved a new policy 8125 on Admission Requirements (formerly policy 8-15) and associated deletion of policy 8-15.1 on Student’s School Status, policy 8-21 on Admission of Nonresident Students, and policy 5-80 on Physical Examinations that were incorporated into the new policy 8125.
The Board approved new policy 8010 on Fundraising (formerly 8-4) which significantly modified the existing policy to better reflect current practice, establish clearer guidance to school principals, foster greater collaboration with school-based parent teacher organizations, and encourage appropriate use of the school day for instruction.

The Board also approved new policy 8210 on Introduction to Student Discipline (formerly 8-25); 2210 on Annual Organizational Meeting and Election, Regular and Other Meetings; 6120 on Wellness (formerly 3-4), 8120 on Compulsory Attendance (formerly 8-14) and associated deletion of policy 8-18 on Release from Compulsory Attendance that was incorporated into the new policy 8120. Finally, the Board approved deletion of policy 8-8 on Pregnant Students as it was found to be redundant and unnecessary.

For more information on these and other topics from the School Board’s regular business meetings, please visit BoardDocs at the link below.

BOARD MEETING HIGHLIGHTS (5/14/2019 & 5/28/2019)Below are highlights from the School Board’s regular business meetings...
06/09/2019
www.boarddocs.com

BOARD MEETING HIGHLIGHTS (5/14/2019 & 5/28/2019)

Below are highlights from the School Board’s regular business meetings in May:

REVISION OF 2019-20 SCHOOL CALENDAR:
The Board voted unanimously to modify its previously adopted school calendar for the upcoming school year to account for recent changes to state law. With the Virginia General Assembly’s effective repeal of the King’s Dominion Law, the law now requires a four-day weekend over the Memorial Day holiday. The School Board therefore amended its previously adopted calendar to make Friday, August 30, 2019, a holiday and add one additional day to the end of the school year in June to comport with the new law and still allow for the required 180-day school year. With this action, Friday, August 30, 2019, will now be a holiday (in addition to Memorial Day, Monday, September 2, 2019) and last day of school for students will be Wednesday, June 10, 2020 and for teachers, Friday, June 12, 2020. All other dates remain the same as the previously 2019-20 school calendar previously adopted by the School Board on December 11, 2018.

MODIFIED TJHSST CONTRACT ADOPTED:
The Board voted 6-3 (Ms. Rose, Ms. Turgeon and me opposed) to approve a modified TJHSST contract beginning with the 2020-21 school year that would continue to support admission of incoming students but limit the number to only incoming 50 students and eliminate all transportation services effective the start of the 2020-21 school year. I and three other Board members would have preferred a gradual phase-out of LCPS participation in the Fairfax County STEM magnate school. However, there was not majority support on the Board for that alternative. The alternative “phasing out” approach would have saved an estimated $4.5 million over the same period, while continuing to provide bus service to those students already enrolled in the school over the next three years. The modified TJHSST contract will have an estimated four-year cost savings of roughly $1.6 million, mostly due to suspended transportation services, but continue to offer admission of new Loudoun students to TJHSST for the 2020-21 school year.

SOCIAL/GLOBAL STUDIES TEXTBOOK ADOPTION:
The Board voted unanimously to adopt the recommended new textbooks and associated digital resources for the remaining high school social studies and global studies courses that were not ready for adoption in April.

ACADEMIES OF LOUDOUN PROGRAM SUMMARIES:
Staff provided one-page summaries of each of the three academies (AOS, AET and MATA) that comprise the Academies of Loudoun. The summaries contain a brief program description, admissions criteria and process, basis 2018 admissions statistics, and average assessment scores for those students offered admission.

In short, AOS is a highly competitive advanced academic program with a particular focus on an integration of mathematics, science and research that now admits 120 incoming Freshman each year for a four-year program. AET is a highly competitive advanced academic program with a particular focus on engineering, information technology and entrepreneurship that now admits 150 incoming Freshmen for a four-year program and 50 incoming Juniors for a two-year program annually. MATA provides a large variety of one and two-year, advanced Career & Technical Education (CTE) programs and admits over 700 rising Juniors and Seniors annually and a small number of rising Sophomores in its Intro to Health & Medical Science (HMS) course. A couple new programs within MATA are under development. Students alternate attendance between the Academies of Loudoun and their home high school every other day.

NEW AND REVISED POLICIES:
The School Board also unanimously adopted a number of new policies. These included Policy 7301 on Licensed Staff, Policy 7522 on Absence Without Approved Leave, Policy 7552 on Tobacco and Smoke-Free Environment, and Policy 8210 on Introduction to Student Discipline (formerly Policy 8-25). There are a number of new and newly revised draft policies that are awaiting deliberation and approval by the School Board at its next or subsequent meetings.


For more information on these and other topics from the School Board’s regular business meetings, please visit BoardDocs at the link below.

Recently had the pleasure of delivering Loudoun Education Foundation (LEF) grant checks to Sanders Corner ES and Riversi...
06/09/2019

Recently had the pleasure of delivering Loudoun Education Foundation (LEF) grant checks to Sanders Corner ES and Riverside HS. Librarian Maureen Cura of Sanders Corner ES secured a $500 grant for her "STEAM makerspace" initiative. Karen Swanchara of Riverside HS was awarded a $500 grant for her "Using PCR (polymerase chain reaction) In Real-World Forensic Experiments" initiative. And Gina Hunter, also of Riverside HS, secured a $500 LEF grant for her initiative, "Excaping Chemistry." Congratulations all!

BOARD MEETING HIGHLIGHTS (4/9/2019 & 4/23/2019)Below are highlights from the School Board’s regular business meetings ...
05/14/2019
www.boarddocs.com

BOARD MEETING HIGHLIGHTS (4/9/2019 & 4/23/2019)

Below are highlights from the School Board’s regular business meetings in April:

2020 LCPS BUDGET RECONCILED:
The Board voted unanimously to adopt the Superintendent’s proposed reconciliation plan to remove roughly $2.1 million from the School Board’s adopted budget to match with the budget allocation provided by the Board of Supervisors (BOS). Only one amendment was offered during reconciliation deliberation. I offered an amendment to restore $90,000 of the $100,000 proposed reduction from the high school textbooks and digital resources line item in the adopted budget with the elimination of $90,000 allocated for part-time staff aides for School Board members. Simply put, I and others felt that funds are better spent directly benefiting students, teachers and our overall educational mission than on individual support for Board members. Unfortunately that proposed amendment failed 4-5 (with Croll, Huck, Maloney, Morse and Turgeon opposed). The remaining recommended reductions were unanimously supported by the Board.

The $2,155,470 reduction from the School Board’s adopted budget needed to match the amount of funding allocated by the BOS was achieved through a reduction of funding to support the new Equity position (less $39k), reduction in network technology improvements and upgrades (less $1,425k), reduction in high school textbook and digital resources (less $100k), reduction in school based tables and chairs (less $45,082), reduction in funds for facility repairs ($252,250), and a reduction in the fuel budget ($294,138). Staff anticipates requesting use of allocated but unspent FY 2019 funds to cover approximately $1.7 million of these reductions that are for relatively minor capital expenditures. The consequence of doing so, however, is that these are funds that should be more responsibly built long-term into the LCPS budget base, rather than afforded through short-term funding sources.

DS SECONDARY SCHOOL ATTENDANCE ZONES ADOPTED:
After several weeks of staff briefings, public hearings and Board work sessions, the Board voted unanimously to adopt a rezoning plan submitted by Mr. Morse (Plan 6) that was based in large part on plans submitted previously by me and Ms. Huck. The adopted plan attempts to balance enrollment while also maximizing proximity, community, accessibility, stability and cluster alignment. It establishes an attendance zone for Lightridge HS which is scheduled to open in the fall of 2020 that encompasses the western and southernmost portions of the Dulles South Planning District. The continued assignment of the East Gate community (DS 9.1, DS 9.3 and DS 16.1) to John Champe HS and Mercer MS featured prominently in the Board’s deliberation. However, given the high student population concentration immediately surrounding Freedom HS and J.M. Lunsford MS, the Board found it too difficult at this time to accommodate the East Gate community into the Freedom Cluster which is more proximate to it. All things considered, this rezoning process was fairly easy, as evidenced by the broad consensus within the Board on a way forward and the limited number of speakers at public hearings.

INCLUSIVE PRACTICE STRATEGIC ACTION UPDATE:
Pupil Services Department staff provided an update on the Board’s Strategic Action related to Inclusive Practices. Based on the presentation and the primary metrics tracked to measure progress, LCPS is making nominal gains in its efforts to better meet the needs of students with special needs within its general education setting, while remaining significantly ahead of statewide and neighboring comparator school division levels. However, it fell short of originally established goals.

In FY 2017, 65.3% of LCPS students with IEPs spent 80% or more of their day in the general education setting. This was compared to 64.0% statewide and 53.7% in Fairfax, 63.3% in Arlington and 64.4% in Prince William counties. The projected percentage for FY 2019 is 68% but still below the original goal of 70% established by the Strategic Action but well ahead of the original benchmark of 46.5% for the division in FY 2014.

In FY 2014, Loudoun reported a percentage of students included in the general education classroom less than 40% of the day at 10.9%. This percentage is projected to decline to 10.2% in FY 2019, though up slightly over prior lows reached in FY 2015 (9.24%) and FY 2018 (9.78%).

The percentage of students who received services outside of the local school division, in other settings, have declined slightly from 1.21% in FY 2014 to a projected low of 1.0% in FY 2019. This is against a statewide goal of less than 3% and levels benchmarked against comparator school divisions that are three to four times higher than Loudoun.

Staff also updated the Board on efforts to improve the quality of inclusion practices through ongoing monitoring and tiered support, action plans, intervention strategies, transition services, and professional learning. Looking ahead, staff will continue active monitoring of inclusive practices, collaboration with the Department of Instruction, continue to focus professional development training and strategic planning on Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS), support phased implementation of a Social Emotional Learning curriculum at the elementary school level, and promote a culture of inclusivity across the LCPS school community.

UPDATING STRATEGIC PLAN:
With the adoption of next year’s budget and planning already well underway for FY 2020, the Board has started discussions related to the need to update its current (and first) Strategic Plan that identified key Strategic Actions for the school division through FY 2020, entitled Vision 20/20. The Board agreed to largely maintain its guiding Strategic Framework, containing its mission, values and goals, to focus on updating and/or replacing its existing 17 Strategic Actions. Over the next several months, staff will work with the Board to identify and articulate those Strategic Actions that it wants to focus on in the coming years. This will help guide staff in the formation of the FY 2021 budget, the process for which begins this summer. It will also afford the new Board which begins its term in January 2020 to not have to simultaneously begin work on both the FY 2021 budget and the next Strategic Plan at the same time. Rather this will allow the new Board time to adjust and yet still afford it an opportunity to amend or revise the Strategic Plan on a timeline of its choosing.

I have been advocating for the Board to begin revising the Strategic Actions that are quickly becoming out of date. I see a huge need for greater focus particularly on our core instructional initiatives, such as Project-Based Learning (PBL), Personalized Learning (PL) and Performance-Based Assessments (PBAs), that are already taking shape within the school division but needing a clearer plan for implementation, support and evaluative metrics through robust strategic actions. Additionally, I believe that greater attention needs to be paid to ensuring that all students can successfully access these initiatives and the delivery of the content and competencies of the curriculum that they support to better enable fulfillment of our mission. Likewise, there are several existing strategic actions, such as Full-Day Kindergarten (FDK) and Fleet Management, that we have already successfully achieved and are now in more of a state of continuous improvement.

The Board will begin working on establishing the strategic actions in May and June that it will focus on establishing and/or revising over the course of the next several months that can then be added to and/or revised by the new Board next year.

TJHSST CONTRACT RENEWAL PROPOSED:
The annual contract with Fairfax County Public Schools for Loudoun student admission to Thomas Jefferson HS for Science and Technology (TJHSST or TJ, for short) has come up for renewal for the 2020-2021 school year. LCPS currently sends a total of 247 Loudoun students to TJ in Fairfax County at a total cost of $3,791,995 in FY 2019, not including the roughly $500,000 spent on transportation. Those costs are anticipated to increase annually.

In FY 2020, 83 of the 102 new Loudoun students offered admission to TJ have accepted the offer and plan to attend the school, among the 528 applicants. Meanwhile there were 1107 applicants this year for the Loudoun’s Academy of Engineering & Technology (AET) and 1154 applicants to its Academy of Science (AOS) within the Academies of Loudoun, most of whom were also among the applicants to TJ. A total of 150 rising 9th Grade students were offered admission to AET and 120 were offered admission to AOS.

Perspectives on whether or not the School Board should continue sending Loudoun students to TJ with the opening this year of the Academies of Loudoun and expansion of both AET and AOS clearly vary within the community and within the Board. I have long supported the gradual phase-out of Loudoun’s participation in TJ with the opening of the Academies of Loudoun and significant increase in advanced STEM programming now available through AET and AOS afforded through it. I believe that funds sent to Fairfax to fund Loudoun’s participation in TJ are better utilized in creating more opportunities for many more Loudoun students within Loudoun County.

NEW SOCIAL/GLOBAL STUDIES TEXTBOOKS ADOPTED:
The Board voted unanimously to adopt the recommended new textbooks and associated digital resources for all social studies and global studies courses in grades 4-12 recommended by staff, except for a few books for which the staff recommendation was withdrawn following specific and validated concerns from members of the public and/or because they are no longer available. The Board directed staff to identify and propose alternative textbooks and digital resources to the Board in time for use at their use at the start of the 2019-2020 school year.

NEW AND REVISED POLICIES:
As part of its ongoing, multi-year effort to review and update all policies, the School Board adopted new Policy 5310 on Special Education (former Policy 5-52) and Policy 5360 on Homebound & Home-Based Instruction. A number of new and revised policies were postponed until May for review by the Board.

For more information on these and other topics from the School Board’s regular business meetings, please visit BoardDocs at the link below.

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