I’m All Ears

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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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.

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10 thoughts on “I’m All Ears

  1. The LAST thing we need is another ITRT. We NEED more SPED teachers and Instructional Assistants to help with the ever growing population of needy students. I would even suggest cutting an ITRT position. (or two)

    • Thank you for not dismissing the idea of a second social worker. The “ever growing population of needy students” is exactly why we need at least one more. We all know engaged parents are the key to student success so having someone to help me reach more families will only benefit our students in the long run.

  2. 2 things:
    Regarding the school system paying dues to the professional organization for administrators AND NO ONE ELSE…say what? Administrators make the highest salaries in the system but their dues are paid by the system while everyone else who can even afford to join pays out of their own pocket? How many people don’t join because they can’t spare $500year? This is a small expense in the total school budget but that is NOT the point. This is wrong.

    Next, thank you for covering health insurance increases for our staff. Please keep it up!

    • I totally agree about the professional association dues. Mine are $145/year and I cringe every year when I enter my credit card info.

  3. For one year…the budget focus needs to be compensation for teachers. not just salary…not just VRS and increased premiums…all the above…it has been too long…stop comparing us to surrounding counties…those other counties never took a pay decrease…those other counties did not have furlough days…we are tired of feeling not rewarded…sorry gifts from Wal Mart does not pay my bills or allow me to save for my family

    2nd thing is staff days at the end of the school year. Can we look to add them more into our yearly calendar

    • I agree with the first part of what “Fed Up” said. However, in regards to the staff days, please keep in mind that the elementary teachers, ESPECIALLY those that have to pack up their rooms every year, need a few staff days at the end to complete this and the paperwork/meetings that afd always assigned. I’m glad to see that this year’s calendar doesn’t have the crazy amount as last year at the end (5?) but we DO need a couple.

      • Please share your calendar suggestions and perspectives with your SAC rep. At those meetings, we develop a calendar to propose to the board.

  4. I was not able to attend this meeting but am pleased that our superintendent recognized the need for a second school social worker. If the state board’s recommendations to the general assembly pass, Fluvanna will need to hire three more for a total of four. The state board passed the recommendation of putting a ratio of 1:1000 in the SOQ’s unanimously at their 10/27 meeting.

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