School Board members spent the last two Wednesdays listening to a marathon of reports from directors, administrators, and others (all available online). The only votes taken involved approval of a $2264 grant application to assist immigrant youth, and the usual items on the consent agenda (minutes, monthly claims, personnel, surplus items). I voted against certifying payment of the monthly claims because they included about $500 payments for each of 11 administrators to join a professional association very similar to one available to teachers and staff, however each of the approximately 150 staff members who choose to join pay the comparable $500 annual fee out of their own pocket.
A revision of School Board norms was on the agenda (particularly whether or not School Board members should visit schools unaccompanied by administrators) but it was tabled until November. You can read about my opinion in the previous post (YES). I look forward to reporting on the discussion.
At the last meeting the Board started hashing out initial plans for next year’s budget. There was discussion about whether the Board should continue to pay the inevitable increases in health insurance premiums or, at some point, pass a portion on to employees. As an alternative, the Board could raise salaries to compensate for insurance increases instead of paying them directly. Everyone would benefit, not just people who carry school insurance, and salaries would be higher for retirement calculations, BUT it would cost a lot more to include everyone, and higher salaries would mean higher employer payments to the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) and to social security (FICA). And it would look like employees were consistently getting good raises, instead of just keeping up with insurance. I suggested we ask teachers and staff for their opinion.
Ms. Keller was asked what she’d like to include in the next budget and she talked about another social worker, more instructional assistants, and maybe an administrative position to help in the special ed department. Mr. Winkler suggested a 4th Instructional Technology Resource Teacher (ITRT) and 2 more vocational (CTE) positions. This is all very preliminary. I said I’d like to look at reducing expenses, not just adding things to the budget, and again, we should ask our staff (about cutting costs) because I’m sure they have good ideas.
Salaries were not addressed directly, but in my comments I asked the Board to specifically improve Scale B, a salary scale that accelerates very slowly for the first 20 years of a teacher’s career ($7000 total) but then increases an additional $10,500 over the next 10 years. I’d like to see some of the increases of later years pushed more proportionately into the first 20 years on the scale. The Chair agreed to add this to the list.
The public hearing for input into next year’s budget is Nov. 9 at 7:00 in the school board office auditorium. Or you can call, email, or hunt down any school board representative!
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