Last night I went to my first School Board meeting since re-inventing Fluco Blog. Here’s my first Fluco Blog attempt to fill in the gap between what you can learn about School Board meetings online, and what you can learn from listening in.
There were few gaps in the first part of the meeting. The School Board adopted the minutes, paid the bills, and recognized different groups for different achievements. These are pretty straightforward functions and don’t usually generate a lot of conversation. There were no public comments. The next item on the agenda was Reports. Last night’s conversation around reports included Ms. Keller attributing school accreditation to teachers’ success with focused interventions, a few questions about improving radio contact between the schools and county emergency services, and then a good 10 minutes about staff feedback regarding the strengths and recommended focus areas of Fluvanna schools. Ms. Keller and the Board commented most on feedback about salaries. The Board Chair asked that the December school board packet include the salary recommendations of the state sponsored School Efficiency Review to provide contrast between current salaries and cuts proposed by the Review. Referencing other feedback, the Chair suggested each school needs to talk about areas of focus, and maybe bring issues to the Board.
The report on budget for this year stated enrollment is down by 75 students. We budgeted for a decrease of only 40, which means we’ll get less revenue than expected from the state (they pay per student). However, we budgeted fuel at $4 per gallon and hope to recoup savings there. The Board expects the decline in enrollment to continue next year, along with increases in employer contributions to the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) and increasing health insurance costs. Other items under consideration for next year are implementing existing salary steps, paying costs associated with a possible 3% raise proposed by Governor McAuliffe, not charging a pay to participate fee at FCHS, increasing the mileage reimbursement rate, increasing funding for per pupil instructional materials, and starting a Health Savings Account (HSA) option for high deductible insurance plans. All of this information is available online so I know I’ve strayed from my objective to just fill in the gaps. I like numbers!
There was one more report last night regarding an Immigrant Youth Grant. The most interesting thing about this item was that when it was put to a vote, one Board member abstained. It was a vote for someone giving us money, but I appreciated the abstention on the principle that an item presented for “first review” should not be voted on at the same meeting. In the opinion of the abstaining Board member all should take time to consider the information and (in my opinion) allow for public input before making a final decision.
After Reports, the Board voted to approve two items (policy changes presented last month and the Immigrant Youth Grant). There was a second opportunity for public comments (none). Then School Board members reported on their assigned committees and made a few other remarks.
I’ll end with this observation. The Virginia School Boards Association is sending me all kinds of information about how school boards work. The VSBA promotes a choice between two types of agendas to conduct business at Board meetings. Both include a specific section for New Business to follow Reports and Information items. Two years ago Fluvanna removed the category of New Business from the agenda. Now Board members hear scheduled reports, vote, and conclude the meeting.
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This blog is a personal blog written and edited by me. The views expressed in this blog are purely my own and do not represent the Fluvanna County School Board, the school superintendent, or anyone else. Comments added by others are not necessarily my opinions and I am not responsible for their content.