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 discussion, most of the comments I remember turn out to be mine! Here’s the latest…
The Jan 19 meeting ran twice as long as expected because Board members wanted to look at current program costs before we add any more to our next budget. The superintendent reported on costs and some revenues (grants and other state and federal funds we receive only because we have some of these programs) for alternative education, testing, athletics, cafeteria, vocational, gifted, technology, and transportation. These reports are all online if you’re interested. We talked about these costs quite a bit, but we purposefully didn’t get into costs vs. benefits to students, though that’s coming of course, because it’s the whole point.
The Board talked about salaries a lot, for this year as well as 2019. This year’s budget still accounts for money the former governor proposed to increase salaries. The increase didn’t pass through the General Assembly but we discussed the possibility that our 2018 budget can still accommodate a small staff bonus before the end of this year.
Some of the superintendent’s proposed changes to Fluvanna salary scales for 2019 are in the Jan 19 packet online. There’s a lot of discussion to come before anything is finalized. It started with the psychologists’ request for a scale separate from and above the current teachers’ scale. That general discussion recognized the importance of their work, but acknowledged that many teachers also have higher degrees and specialized qualifications and most on the Board felt we don’t have the money at this time to increase funds for reading speacialists, guidance counselors, and others in addition to our much appreciated school psychologists. I’m making a kind of big deal about this because it was great to have the psychologists speak at our last meeting to make their proposal.
Our two different teachers’ salary scales got a lot of attention, as usual. SO FAR, the budget proposal includes another adjustment – tiny increase – to the lower scale (Scale B), step advancements for both scales, and a 1% increase for all staff. ( Albemarle is looking at 2% and Charlottesville at 4%.) I suggested a cap on salaries that benefit from the 1%, perhaps $100,000, only because as some of our teachers took a step back with Scale B, no other employee categories took this hit. According reports on the Va. Dept. of Ed website, our administrators are still well compensated compared to surrounding counties while our teachers are less so. I’d like to correct that proportion for morale as much as taxpayer savings. I’ve stated several times that I certainly think our administrators are worth their money, even more, as all educators are. But I think this adjustment is fair.
One of the last discussions on salary was about the 40 teachers who were hired before Scale B existed and then placed on that scale. The Board talked about returning any or all of these teachers to Scale A, and the potential timing for making that happen. At least two of us were in favor of moving all 40 over next year. The cost is not prohibitive now, though it increases as these 40 move up on the higher scale.
So, the budget priorities most Board members agreed to consider at our next meeting (Feb 7) included the salary changes already described, an autism teacher plus 2 aides, a part time (I think) Emergency Medical Tech teacher, a full time teacher for a new vocational program (I’m not in favor of funding a new program at this time given our pupil teacher ratios in many existing classes), five new instructional aides – some to go toward more equal planning at the elementary level (I’m a big fan – check out my last post if you’re really into it), and more help for special ed.
We have to present a budget to the Board of Supervisors soon but there’s still time for input. PLEASE think about speaking at the 2019 budget public hearing on Wed, Feb. 7. The meeting starts at 5:30 but the hearing will be at 6:00. You can leave right after. Everyone does!
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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.