Belated Budget Report

I’m almost a month behind on my promised page-turner of a posting after the January School Board seminar. The Board has actually met three times since my last post, so I have a lot to make up for. Especially if anyone really was counting on a page-turner.

The date of the seminar was changed because of snow. I learned that when the Governor declares a state of emergency we pretty much have to close schools because our high school is a designated community shelter. And even state of emergency days must be made up by students and staff.

All three recent meetings have been mainly about the budget. You can see the superintendent’s proposed budget (Jan. 21) and the School Board’s adopted budget (Feb. 17) online. Because the largest category of expense by far is teachers’ salaries, Scale A and Scale B were hot topics. Scale A for teachers’ salaries is likely to change next year, as it has for several years. The Board did talk about the benefits of committing to the scale as published to help teachers anticipate and feel secure about future income. On the other side of the coin, with Scale A the way it is, there’s the potential for large numbers of teachers to reach large jumps in scale at the same time.  When we present our budget to the public, this makes it hard to explain significantly higher salary expenses when 15 people hit a jump as compared to when it’s only 3. The proposed changes are based on the idea that while everyone makes more with each year of experience, big salary increases are smoothed out to years BEFORE and after current jumps.

As for Scale B, the Board recommended increasing the beginning salary by $1000. Not every step is proposed to increase by that amount. The discussion touched on a comparison of Scale B teachers’ salaries, not only with surrounding school divisions, but also with Fluvanna administrative salaries. Compared to other localities Fluvanna’s Scale B hovers near the middle, though at year 25 we are lower than Orange, Nelson, Albemarle, Charlottesville, Louisa, Greene, Cumberland and Buckingham (Buckingham surpasses us by more than $4000). Compared to many of the same localities, Fluvanna’s administrative salaries are high.

Some details of the proposed budget were left for later. For example, the state will pay for part of the cost of 4 new elementary positions, but what positions those will be (if approved in the final budget) was not decided.

Our next meeting was a work session to consider the amended budget proposal. There was general agreement to go forward with the superintendent’s original recommendations, except to include improvements in Salary Scale B.

Last week we had our regular February meeting. Although a parent and student spoke to the Board during public comments about busing concerns, no one spoke at the public hearing on the budget. The next step will come this Wed, Feb 24 when we present our budget to the Board of Supervisors.

Also last week, the proposed school calendar for 2016-2017 (available online) was presented. There were no proposed changes to student days. However, it will go back to the Staff Advisory Council to look at assigned staff days. For anyone interested in discussion details, recent Fluvanna calendars have included 13 staff days. Virginia Department of Education regulations define a 200 day contract as 180 teaching days plus 10 days for planning, evaluation, completing records and reports, committee assignments, and conferences, and then 10 days for a continuation of activities as MAY be assigned by the local school board. All or some of the second set of 10 days is customarily “unassigned” in appreciation of evenings and weekends teachers work on those very activities (planning, evaluating, recording, reporting). The value of expressing that appreciation was weighed against the value of certain professional development activities organized by Fluvanna. Fluvanna has left all 10 days unassigned at times in the past.

Thanks for reading. I hope this helps fill in some blanks between all those reports you can see online. More to come in March!


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3 thoughts on “Belated Budget Report

  1. Sigh… First of all, thank you for keeping us up to date. I have wanted to attend the board meetings and even speak up for a thing or two but I’ve been too busy trying to do all of the things that keep my classroom running since I’m down to (on average) ONE 40 minute planning period per week. If I’m lucky, I also get (on average) TWO days per week after students leave without meetings which gives me approximately 25 minutes of contract hours to do what I need to do. (Though we all know that is a laughable amount of time to get anything done and end up staying most nights until 5 or beyond) Which brings me to my complaint. 13 assigned staff days when we’ve typically had 10 is a slap in the face. I don’t need more professional development. I don’t need more “retreats.” I don’t need more curriculum development. (by the way… isn’t that what those “coordinators” are supposed to be doing?) What I NEED is more uninterrupted time in my classroom. I NEED the board and administration to recognize the fact that I have to come in 2 or 3 days early at the beginning of the school year to put my room back together because I’ve been forced to pack it up EVERY SINGLE YEAR and most of my “back to school workdays” are taken up with…. wait for it… MEETINGS! And these days are never counted as they are looked at as something I can do during “back to school workdays.” I need for the board and admin to respect my time with my family. To stop taking for granted that these things will get done as teachers will always use up their personal time to get it done. It shouldn’t be this way. We shouldn’t be expected to do this. And when I bring this up, I shouldn’t be told, “That’s the job you signed up for.” My suggestion would be to either stop asking me to take away time from my family to complete the tasks that would be possible to complete during school hours IF I was given appropriate planning time, pay me more, or give me the respect I deserve by recognizing that I have already served those 10 days, and many many more. End of rant.

  2. I think the previous poster hit the nail on the head talking about adequate planning time. All elementary teachers in Fluvanna pay a high price for receiving half the planning time of middle and high school staff. Maybe if we provided all teachers equal planning (more for elementary please, not less for others) staff development days would feel like an opportunity instead of a burden.

  3. I recently woke up in the night with a stomach bug. I spent my sick day grading and communicating with students. This is, I believe, pretty typical. We already put in many, many more hours than contracted. I often do not leave the building until 6:00 or later. Also as a person subjected to Scale B (not what I signed on for, but a switch that was made after I had been here for almost Scale A number of years), I have to say lagging behind everyone including Buckingham is very discouraging. It is a significant disincentive toward wanting to still be here at that 25 year mark.

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