It’s Official!

Last night I attended my first School Board meeting as an elected member of the Board.  Here’s my first “official” posting about what you missed (and mostly can’t find out for yourself) if you weren’t there.  It skews heavily toward staff information only because it’s budget time.  There wasn’t a lot of discussion about other matters.

Many of the scheduled presentations were tabled which shortened the Superintendent’s Report section considerably.  There were a few “recognitions” and a quick assurance that results of a staff survey posted in the Board packet would be incorporated into future discussions on budget.  (Those results, according to my own tabulation, list the top two areas where Fluvanna excels as strong staff and good public communication.  The top area to strengthen appears to be a three-way tie for first between more money for materials, more and updated technology, and less testing.  Increasing salaries came in second.)

There were two reports on budget.  Regarding this year’s budget, our student enrollment numbers continue to go down, even though Fluvanna’s total population is holding fairly steady. This year we’ve lost 35 more students than we thought, which means we’ll get less money from the state.  This happens during the school year so we’re already facing a $165,000 budget shortfall.  A purchasing freeze was mentioned, but if fuel prices stay low we may save enough to cover the loss.

As for next year’s budget, the planning documents for 2017 are online (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5d5EyRxuxh3eFRiZnhMQU93Ync/view) and Ms. Keller commented that they include salary proposals for 5 categories.  These proposals affect nurses, teachers, and technology staff so those readers in particular may want to take a look at pages 16-20.

The Board is looking at a proposal to change the scheduling of the 5% VRS (Virginia Retirement System) deduction from employees’ pay.  I suggested the administration ask those affected for their opinion, and the Board Chair requested that Ms. Keller consult staff as she visits schools and attends meetings.

Toward the end of the evening, one more item generated a little discussion.  The Board passed a resolution (4-1) against a proposed constitutional amendment in Virginia giving the authority to approve charter schools over to a state board appointed by the Governor.  Currently this decision is made by local school boards. The Board opposes the amendment because local Board members are elected by a community and charged with knowing the needs and characteristics of the community; Board members are responsible for the outcomes of all schools within their jurisdiction, including charter schools;  and local taxpayer dollars would be diverted from existing public schools to state (rather than locally) authorized institutions.

P.S.  During the evening I learned something new about the dual enrollment program we have with the local community college.  I knew that some of our teachers teach college courses in our high school building and so their students are enrolled in FCHS and PVCC at the same time.  I learned that Piedmont receives state money for each student, just as we do.  So they turn a good portion of that money over to us to reimburse the cost of the teacher.

P.P.S. I received this comment after last month’s post, “Next month should be your first SB member meeting.  Can you please post by the end of January what the 2016 top 10 goals are for the SB?”

I’ll try hard to answer this question, but I I’ll have to beg a little more time.  I saw in the local paper recently that a similar question was put to members of the Board of Supervisors, with as many different answers as there were respondents.

We have another January meeting at 8:30 am on the 22nd.  I’ll be back with another page-turner!

 

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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.