It’s Hard to Spell Unanimous

The beginning of each regular School Board meeting is meant to go pretty quickly because of Robert’s Rules consent calendar, or as we call it, the consent agenda.  The idea is that the Board Chair asks for one vote on several items grouped together, because each one is expected to have unanimous consent.  If any Board member wants to discuss an item or vote against it, they ask the Chair to remove it from the consent agenda.

At the latest School Board meeting (May 11) three of the seven items on the consent agenda were removed and voted on separately.  Two of those, Personnel Recommendations and School Staff, passed by a 3-2 vote. I voted no, objecting to certain administrative positions. The state-sponsored School Efficiency Review found that Fluvanna had a total of 17.8 admin positions as compared to our neighboring peer average of only 15.  I commented that I would like to redirect some of those funds to help teachers meet the needs of the classroom.  Mr. Rittenhouse also voted no.  The third item, Salary Scales, passed by a 4-1 vote.  The Board had already voted on salary scales at the last meeting but there were some small items and one significant copying error to change this month.  I repeated my no vote, adding that I think we should have looked at more than the one salary proposal that relied on new money, and closely examined our expenses in order to do better for our staff.

There was some discussion of next month’s vote on the schools’ categorical budget.  The Board will decide how to distribute the total budget into five main categories, and then it appears the superintendent pretty much takes it from there.  I’ll be interested to learn if this impression is correct.

More discussion came with the Extended Service Plan proposal.  I expressed concern that the plan does not seem equitable.  Long term subbing, with its after-hours workload and demand of professional certification,  appears to exceed the requirements of special projects listed.  The majority of the Board disagreed.

Toward the end of the meeting three more votes were taken.  All members voted in favor of the listed policy updates, a Migratory Children certification (just in case – we don’t currently have any migratory children), and a new meeting date for July 6.

Final comments of School Board members included several affirmations of the number of administrative positions Fluvanna supports, as well as reports on recent committee meetings.  At one meeting (of the Blue Ridge Virtual Governor’s School) Fluvanna added a second section of 18 students to the program at a cost of up to $25,000 per year for the next 4 years.  Our first 18 students are generally paid for by the state.  We added these students because they have particularly high qualifying scores and increase the diversity of participants in the program.  The Gifted Committee also met.  Fluvanna has 272 students identified as gifted, or 7.8% of our population.  The state average is 16.5% but that includes more than just the one area of identification scored by Fluvanna (specific academic aptitude).  In grades K-7 students are served by the classroom teacher.  Grades 8-12 are served by the type of class they take.

There’s always a lot more information available online.  I try to hit the highlights of what you won’t find there.

 

If you’d like to keep up with Fluco Blog, click the FOLLOW button near the very bottom right corner and enter your email address.  It’s private and completely free.  If you want to comment on a post, click Comments.  You’ll be asked to provide a name and email address.  If something hits too close to home and you want to be anonymous, DON’T GIVE YOUR REAL NAME ANYWHERE.  Make something up.  Do give your real email address, which will NOT show up with your comment.  You might also be asked for a website, which is weird and not required. Your information is not leased or sold to anyone. 

 

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.

A Short Meeting with a Long Explanation

The School Board passed a budget weeks ago with salary scales and health insurance rates included.  But since that time our anticipated funding from the state has changed and the Board of Supervisors has decided on next year’s tax rate.  It happens like this pretty much every year.  The School Board passes an initial budget because we need a best guess of state funding to know what to request from the county.  Then, once we know what the county will kick in, we don’t have much time to make the big decisions on salaries and health insurance rates before employee contracts are offered in May.  So we pre-plan with the information available at the time and make adjustments when “final” numbers come in.

As if it were that easy.  Our “final” numbers for both revenues and expenses are never very final.  For example, the state gives us money based on student enrollment but they count heads and pay up several times during the year.  State money is about half our budget so changes in enrollment during the budget cycle can make a big difference in revenue.  On the expense side (another example) salaries are a huge portion of the budget, and although we can know in advance how many employees will start the school year in August, the amount needed for their salaries will certainly change over the summer.  Our largest category of employees are teachers, and because we bring new teachers in on salary scale B, depending on how many leave from scale A, salary expenses will definitely fluctuate.

What I’m trying to say is the School Board met Wednesday night primarily to set salary scales and health insurance rates, now that we have a better idea of “final” revenues.

The administration presented the Board with salary scales reflecting a 1% minimum increase for all employees, and a 2% average increase across all the scales (not by employee category).  It was also recommended that the School Board cover the inevitable increase in health insurance rates within the budget, keeping premiums level for employees.  There was some discussion about raising salaries more and having employees take over the health insurance increase.  It was brought out that 25% of our employees don’t participate in our health insurance program, so they don’t benefit from these annual increases.  Also, because the Va. Retirement System uses salary to determine retirement, a greater increase in salary results in a greater increase in benefits.  On the downside, transferring the increase in cost of health insurance to the employee would mean the division pays that amount to 25% more people, they’d pay more in FICA, VRS, and related taxes and fees, and though passing on just the increase might not affect this, there are minimum requirements of our current insurance provider and SOQ funding for a partial employer share.

Accepting the administration’s recommendation on both salaries and health insurance rates would use $682,000 of the $776,000 provided by the Board of Supervisors for operational purposes.  This would leave only $94,000 available for other needs presented by the schools including additional custodians and instructional aides, as well as the much discussed (with the Board of Supervisors) additional Career and Technical Education teacher, school psychologist, and Instructional Technology Resource Teacher.

The evening ended in four action items (votes).  All Board members voted in favor of the Special Education Annual Plan, which secures about $770,000 in federal funds (which gets added to about $1.3 million in state funds and $5.5 million in local money) for special ed.  All voted in favor of a $2500 annual Va. School Boards Association policy services agreement (for legal advice on school policy).  All members voted in favor of the administration’s recommended health insurance rates (an increase of 7.1% not passed on to employees).  All but one Board member (me again) voted in favor of the administration’s recommended salary scales.  I voted against this with the comment that I believe we should have looked at more than one proposal.

The Extended Service Plan was on the agenda, but it was not an action item.  The Board listened to a description of what we can expect to see presented at the next regular meeting on May 11.  That meeting will probably be longer than this one.  Maybe I should start blogging in installments.

 

If you’d like to keep up with Fluco Blog, click the FOLLOW button near the very bottom right corner and enter your email address.  It’s private and completely free.  If you want to comment on a post, click Comments.  You’ll be asked to provide a name and email address.  If something hits too close to home and you want to be anonymous, DON’T GIVE YOUR REAL NAME ANYWHERE.  Make something up.   Do give your real email address, which will NOT show up with your comment.  You might also be asked for a website, which is weird and not required. Your information is not leased or sold to anyone. 

 

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.