Deja Vu All Over 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…

I’m sure everyone noticed (!) I skipped my report on last month’s regular meeting but there wasn’t much to tell since we were still waiting on budget news from the county, we’re in-between superintendents, and we can’t comment much on the new superintendent search.

This post will put me back on track with an update on our April meeting held last week.

We hardly ever get input during our time for public comments, so it was great to start the meeting off with a retiree filling us in on her opinion of the Extended Service Plan.  The purpose of the plan is evolving into taking advantage of the expertise of recent Fluvanna retirees, usually as substitutes, in whatever capacity they served when they left us.  They know the kids, the curriculum, and the routines of our schools so their service is more valuable and we’ll pay them a little more than other subs to fill in. Currently the plan has two parts, 20 people who make $125/day and 8 people with special assignments who make $225/day.  After a lot of discussion (including my proposal to eliminate the $225 tier) there was consensus on a modified plan as described in the school board documents.

Most of the budget discussion focused on what to do this year with over $300,000 in (sort of) unexpected state revenue.  Some Board members wanted more technology.  One pointed out the irony of asking for increases from the Board of Supervisors every year, then seeing this increase also.  I agreed with another member who advocated for a bonus for all staff.  I also suggested that IF the Board was reluctant to support bonuses and pay the associated increase in employment taxes, we could consider an allocation to all personnel for supplies. This would essentially increase their compensation because many spend their own money anyway, and we could open other avenues for purchasing beyond the often required Staples and Faye’s Office Supplies.  Mr. Winkler suggested a portion of the money go toward translation services for SPED documents, financial and legal services, the superintendent search, technology, bus replacements, and FCHS field maintenance.

That pretty much covers it because, as of last Wednesday, we were still waiting on budget news from the county, we’re still in-between superintendents, and we still can’t comment much on the new superintendent search.

Yogi Berra said it best.

 

If you’d like to keep up with Fluco Blog, click the FOLLOW button near the very bottom right corner and enter your email address.  It’s private and completely free.  If you want to comment on a post, click Comment or Reply.  You’ll be asked to provide a name and email address.  If something hits too close to home and you want to be anonymous, DON’T GIVE YOUR REAL NAME ANYWHERE.  Make something up.  Do give your real email address, which will NOT show up with your comment.  You might also be asked for a website, which is weird and not required. Your information is not leased or sold to anyone. 

 

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.

It’s Hard to Spell Unanimous

The beginning of each regular School Board meeting is meant to go pretty quickly because of Robert’s Rules consent calendar, or as we call it, the consent agenda.  The idea is that the Board Chair asks for one vote on several items grouped together, because each one is expected to have unanimous consent.  If any Board member wants to discuss an item or vote against it, they ask the Chair to remove it from the consent agenda.

At the latest School Board meeting (May 11) three of the seven items on the consent agenda were removed and voted on separately.  Two of those, Personnel Recommendations and School Staff, passed by a 3-2 vote. I voted no, objecting to certain administrative positions. The state-sponsored School Efficiency Review found that Fluvanna had a total of 17.8 admin positions as compared to our neighboring peer average of only 15.  I commented that I would like to redirect some of those funds to help teachers meet the needs of the classroom.  Mr. Rittenhouse also voted no.  The third item, Salary Scales, passed by a 4-1 vote.  The Board had already voted on salary scales at the last meeting but there were some small items and one significant copying error to change this month.  I repeated my no vote, adding that I think we should have looked at more than the one salary proposal that relied on new money, and closely examined our expenses in order to do better for our staff.

There was some discussion of next month’s vote on the schools’ categorical budget.  The Board will decide how to distribute the total budget into five main categories, and then it appears the superintendent pretty much takes it from there.  I’ll be interested to learn if this impression is correct.

More discussion came with the Extended Service Plan proposal.  I expressed concern that the plan does not seem equitable.  Long term subbing, with its after-hours workload and demand of professional certification,  appears to exceed the requirements of special projects listed.  The majority of the Board disagreed.

Toward the end of the meeting three more votes were taken.  All members voted in favor of the listed policy updates, a Migratory Children certification (just in case – we don’t currently have any migratory children), and a new meeting date for July 6.

Final comments of School Board members included several affirmations of the number of administrative positions Fluvanna supports, as well as reports on recent committee meetings.  At one meeting (of the Blue Ridge Virtual Governor’s School) Fluvanna added a second section of 18 students to the program at a cost of up to $25,000 per year for the next 4 years.  Our first 18 students are generally paid for by the state.  We added these students because they have particularly high qualifying scores and increase the diversity of participants in the program.  The Gifted Committee also met.  Fluvanna has 272 students identified as gifted, or 7.8% of our population.  The state average is 16.5% but that includes more than just the one area of identification scored by Fluvanna (specific academic aptitude).  In grades K-7 students are served by the classroom teacher.  Grades 8-12 are served by the type of class they take.

There’s always a lot more information available online.  I try to hit the highlights of what you won’t find there.

 

If you’d like to keep up with Fluco Blog, click the FOLLOW button near the very bottom right corner and enter your email address.  It’s private and completely free.  If you want to comment on a post, click Comments.  You’ll be asked to provide a name and email address.  If something hits too close to home and you want to be anonymous, DON’T GIVE YOUR REAL NAME ANYWHERE.  Make something up.  Do give your real email address, which will NOT show up with your comment.  You might also be asked for a website, which is weird and not required. Your information is not leased or sold to anyone. 

 

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.

There’s a First Time for Everything

Since I’ve only served on the Fluvanna School Board for 2½ months I’m still running into lots of “firsts”.  My first joint meeting between the School Board and Board of Supervisors was a few weeks ago.  I was impressed by a major effort from everyone to appreciate the current (good) relationship between the two Boards.  The meeting was about funding the schools, and a lot of discussion centered on what to do with any money left in the school budget at the end of the year.  I thought it was interesting that the schools don’t get any actual money from the county, they only get permission to spend a certain amount of county money.  They can never go over this amount, and it’s too dangerous to try and time revenues and expenses to the penny as of June 30, so there’d better always be money left over.  Some BOS members thought they should return any leftover money to the schools because the county had already agreed to appropriate that amount.   Some members pointed out that last year significant leftover funds resulted from a savings in fuel costs, which didn’t affect educational expenses, so these savings should go back to the county budget.

There was more specific discussion about the schools’ proposed budget at a later worksession, where supervisors came to an early, tentative agreement to consider allocating about half of the schools’ requested increase over last year’s budget.  This worksession lasted past midnight and involved not just the schools, but all county departments.  I was (looking up a synonym for impressed) REALLY impressed by the Board of Supervisors’ commitment to listening to department heads, asking hard questions, and giving up so much time to go over existing budget items in addition to considering new requests.

The School Board had its regular meeting on March 9, but budget was less of a discussion and more of a revenue update at this point.  The changes we’ll probably have to make depend on revenues that are still being decided at the state, as well as the local level.  Instead, there was discussion about the Extended Service Plan.  This plan pays selected retirees the cost of school health insurance premiums for 30 days work.  The administration plans to take away the option of participation by classroom subbing.   The thought is that teachers can make a little more than the $400+ per month as long term subs and so that category can be removed from the plan.  Since that discussion, it’s been pointed out to me that long term subbing requires maintaining full teaching certification, an expense and time commitment not required of those accepted into the Extended Service Plan.  The discussion continues at a future meeting.

There were only 3 items up for a vote – a list of gifted committee members, members of the Va. School Board Association Honor Roll, and the school calendar.  The only Board comment was my reluctance to vote yes on the school calendar because of the number of assigned staff days, but teachers presented it as the consensus of the Staff Advisory Council and I’m all about teacher input, so I felt I had to acknowledge staff opinions by voting yes.

I experienced a bunch of other “firsts” recently – first Blue Ridge Governor’s School meeting, first planning session with Piedmont Community College, first county-wide staff budget meeting, and tonight will be my first Parent Advisory/Community Forum meeting as a School Board member.  I went all last year but then I was Grammy.  There’s a first time for everything!

 

If you’d like to keep up with Fluco Blog, click the FOLLOW button near the very bottom right corner and enter your email address.  It’s private and completely free.  If you want to comment on a post, click Comments.  You’ll be asked to provide a name and email address.  If something hits too close to home and you want to be anonymous, DON’T GIVE YOUR REAL NAME ANYWHERE.  Make something up.   Do give your real email address, which will NOT show up with your comment.  You might also be asked for a website, which is weird and not required. Your information is not leased or sold to anyone.  Please try it!

 

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.