June Came Early

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…

Our June meeting came a week early.  I apologize for so many recent changes to meeting dates and times.

Speaking of changes, the Board often makes changes to our huge policy manual, usually because legislation requires some kind of simple update, but sometimes because we want to change the substance of a policy.  I started one of these discussions in June on our policy giving teachers 5 years probation before they receive a continuing contract.  Virginia law says it has to be at least 3 years, which it was in Fluvanna until recently, and Fluvanna uses 3 years still for administrative and supervisory positions.  One of my objections to 5 years is that’s a long time to let students go underserved if a teacher isn’t up to par.  Several administrators said 3 years is enough for them to determine who will meet their standards in the classroom, though some were concerned about how much documentation it takes to fire a teacher after the probationary period, so the longer the better.  The Board agreed to continue the discussion.

As we finish up the 2018 budget year, we do expect to have some money left over.  Not only are expenses fluid as people come and go (so the salary line – our largest expense by far – changes monthly) but also our revenue changes as our student numbers fluctuate, because state funding is based on average daily membership.  With so much uncertainty, it’s impossible to spend the budget down to the penny.  And to add some perspective, we have about a $40 million budget, so expecting a 1%-3% carryover is reasonable.  However, the discussion follows, do we use some of that money if we can to finance an item originally cut from the budget (specifically, technology was cut from the Capital Improvement Plan), or do we return all of it to the county?  In the meantime, it’s always everyone’s intention to continue to refine our budget so we have an even better idea of potential overages from the beginning, allowing the Board to make better informed choices from the start.

Results of the staff survey were presented, but not really discussed by Board members. One reason was that the survey comments hadn’t been released to the public and the Board agreed at the meeting they should be included.  I expect more discussion soon, including the possibility of creating a new survey.

Building administrators told the Board about their efforts to address bullying prevention.  Some mentioned the number of discipline referrals going up or down.  I repeated my usual comment about referral counts, specifically that I don’t always find a decrease in referrals a valid measure of behavior improvement. In fact, if fewer referrals come in because of pressure to reduce the number (not because of improvement in behavior) things can only get worse.

We’ll have two meetings in July, a regular meeting on the 11th, and a day-long seminar on the 31st to look at strategic goals, the line item budget, and testing information.  At the seminar, I’ll continue to stress that, in my opinion, any discussion about testing is grievously incomplete without input from teachers and students.

I’ll end on that last statement.  Grievous is a strong word for me (and I had to look up how to spell it) but I mean every syllable.  Though I do wish I had Alexa!

 

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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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