I Did It Again

Thanks for reading Fluco Blog!  I’m Perrie Johnson, Fork Union’s representative to the Fluvanna County School Board.  My goal with Fluco Blog is to let people know what’s going on at School Board meetings beyond the reports available online.  Be forewarned, when it comes to discussions, most of the comments I remember turn out to be mine!  Here‘s the latest…

My last post was way too long because (I’m going with) I combined 3 meetings into one report.  Well, I did it again, this time because (I’m going with) we had 3 meetings in 8 days, and nobody wants to hear from me THAT much.

On Feb. 1 the Board met for a budget work session and a public hearing on qualifications of a superintendent.  The one person who spoke at the public hearing was in support of naming Mr. Winkler our next superintendent.  The work session took a little longer.

You can see the interim superintendent’s latest budget proposal online.  It’s about the same as I reported in my previous post.  (I can’t help but brag that I just deleted a whole paragraph spouting the almost identical information.)  One big change is that our health insurance rates will actually go down, a huge relief, so our new revenue request of the county will be closer to $500,000 (not $800,000) above last year’s allocation.

There was a lot of discussion (again) about our two teacher salary scales, particularly Scale B.  I asked for (and several other school board members supported) a salary committee, including teachers, to look at Scale B in the future.  I gave my (now familiar) opinion that we should reverse the trend of the scale that improves very little for the first 20 years and then speeds up the next 10.  I cited (again) the School Efficiency Review which supports front-loading teacher scales.  I repeated my goal of funding improvements to Scale B by re-prioritizing some of our current expenses, not by increasing the tax burden on our community.

Our next meeting was Feb. 7 and after a long closed session, we discussed the qualifications of our next superintendent.  I pressed for a requirement that all candidates have some kind of public school teaching experience (they’ll be making decisions about teaching methods, programs, schedules, compensation, and evaluation) and that our chosen candidate agrees to live in Fluvanna.  The Virginia School Boards Association also recommended this qualification when they met with us last month, pointing out that this may be the highest paid position in the county and it’s key that all candidates are willing to spend their time and money in the community that pays them.  The Board chose to make these preferred, rather than required, qualifications.

Finally, meeting no.3 was just last night.  There were a few last-minute changes to our budget presentation for the Board of Supervisors (Feb. 15).  One future proposal (for 2019) was to allocate almost $1 million to include auto mechanics in our vocational program.  At a previous meeting I wondered about this as a budget priority.  The new presentation still includes the addition, but transfers some of the cost to the capital improvement plan.

When we voted on the budget, Mr. Rittenhouse and I voted against its approval.  My comments mirrored my opinion of last year. The percentage of our total budget spent on the instructional category has gone down almost every year from 78% in 2010 to this budget’s 73.3%.  I understand reporting requirements can change, but none of our other categories appear to trend consistently downward as instruction does.  Also, about the same time that we had 78% of our budget in the instructional category, we spent 86% of our money on people.  Now we spend 80-82% on people.  I said I’d like to see a budget that allocates a greater percentage of available funds to instruction and staff.  Mr. Rittenhouse said he’d like to see more money go to the classroom and less to administration.

Another long post.  I’m going to hear about it.  At least it was fascinating!

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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.