Must See TV

School Board Report for October 3, 2012 Meeting

In case you were otherwise occupied, last night the PWC School Board had a meeting and it was rather interesting.  If you only want to watch the exciting parts,  you can fast forward to the last 15 minutes for the board member comments.   As an administrative note, we are scrambling to catch up on our work and will be issuing reports on the school board meetings on September 5 and 19 as soon as possible.  We understand those meetings were long, but highly entertaining.

Here is a link to the Agenda for the Oct 3 2012 school board meeting from the PWCS web site.  The agenda is a useful guide when watching or attending board meetings as many of the line items are links that will take you to explanations of the item.

The meeting began a little late but was only about 1 hour long.

Mrs Ramirez was absent.  All other board members were present.

Consent Agenda

The consent agenda is a place where things the school board must approve but are thought to be non-controversial are placed.  This is to allow board meetings to move more quickly and for attention to be dedicated to items for which questions or concerns have arisen or might arise.  Sometimes controversial or confusing things end up on the consent agenda.  Items can be removed from the consent agenda and added to the regular board meeting agenda by a school board member.

The consent agenda included the following items:

  • Attendance Officer Appreciation Week (Healey)
  • National French Week (Healey)
  • National Earth Science (Healey)
  • American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month (Healey)
  • National Chemistry Week (Healey)
  • Youth for Tomorrow Memorandum Of Understanding (Healey)
  • Cooperation Agreement between Prince William County Public Schools and the Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired (Healey)
  • Approval of Head Start Documents (Healey)
  • Special Warrant for School Board Review and Approval of August 2012 Payroll (Cline)
  • Property Line Adjustment – 12th High School (Cline)
  • Stream Mitigation Agreement – Gar-Field Bus Parking Expansion (Cline)
  • Wetland Mitigation Area Agreement – Gar-Field Bus Parking Expansion (Cline)
  • Storm Drain Easement – Lake Ridge Middle School (Cline)
  • Approval of School Board Meeting Minutes for September 19, 2012

Mrs Covington asked that the Youth for Tomorrow Memorandum Of Understanding be moved to the regular agenda for presentation and action by the board.   All items in the consent agenda passed after that item was moved to the regular board meeting agenda.

If you have any questions about these items, you can click on them at the link above for the school board meeting agenda.

Citizen Comments

A group of students discussed their school’s Odyssey of the Mind program and the success they’ve had as a team in Odyssey competitions.

A student spoke about his school’s running club and the success he’s had in running as a result.

A citizen mentioned concerns she has with the teacher to student ratios for Science at the Middle School level.  She said that with a ratio of 2 teachers for 200 students and the requirement that 2 letter grades be entered into the system each week, that leaves teachers with less than 1 minute per paper to grade each student’s work.  She stated that such an arrangement puts kids at a disadvantage and results in them losing interest in Science.

Superintendent’s Time

Superintendent Walts commended the school division on it’s SOL, SAT, and ACT scores.  Projected total enrollment for the FY 2012 – 2013 school year is 83,532 students.  The detailed enrollment report will be presented to the public and school board at the next regular school board meeting on October 17, 2012.

Action Items

All actions items passed the school board.  You can find information about each one by clicking on it in the agenda linked at the top of this article.

Several items passed with little or no discussion.   They include the following:

  • 2013 Legislative Priorities
  • Appointments to the Special Education and Safe Schools Advisory Councils
  • VSBA Academy Awards for school board members

Two items were voted on and approved that engendered some degree of discussion.

  • Increase to the 2012 – 2013 SY Operating Fund Budget

An approximately $2.109 million increase to the Operating Fund Budget was requested by the school division.  The increase was due to additional money from grants that were received by the school division over the summer.  You can find a list of the grants and amounts received here.  Expenditures for programs associated with these grants have already been incurred in some cases or are yet to be incurred in other cases.

  • Youth For Tomorrow Memorandum of Understanding

This is the item that Mrs Covington had asked be removed from the consent agenda because she had some questions. Betty’s questions were about the 5 year commitment to the MOU and funding for it.  The MOU will allow certified mental health professionals from Youth for Tomorrow to come into school’s participating in the pilot program and provide truancy and counseling assistance to students at those schools in need of such assistance.  The program will be available to children on Medicaid and will be funded through Medicaid reimbursements.  Additional funds from sources other than the school division may be sought if non-Medicaid eligible students participate. Either party – PWCS or YFT – can back out of the MOU at any time with 30 days notice.

Information Items

Revisions to Policy 494 on Energy Conservation were read to the school board with voting on the revisions expected at the October 17 2012 regular school board meeting.  Per school division staff, the revisions are a necessary result of the energy conservation contract the school division signed last year.  You can find the proposed new policy here. 

Board Member Comments

  • Dr Wooten

SPARK is a non-profit group that provides funds for school division activities.  It pays for the School Fusion pages that are used for home / school communications.  School Fusion costs approximately $75,000 a year, which SPARK provides.  It is open season in the state and federal government, so if you want to give to SPARK you can designate it as your beneficiary.  SPARK’s code for the United Way Campaign is 8157,  SPARK’s code from the Combined Federal Campaign is 84495.

  • Gil Trenum:

Back to school nights.  Mr Trenum commented that holding back to school nights on Friday night makes things difficult for families and asked that some flexibility be added to the schedule next year to reduce the need for Back to School nights on Friday’s.  Mr Trenum echoed Ms Bell and Satterwhite’s concerns about math textbooks.

  • Lisa Bell:

Math textbooks.  Ms Bell said the school division is phasing implementation of Math Connects with grades 3 – 8 using it this year and grades K – 2 remaining on Math Investigations until next year. Ms Bell asked what we are doing for schools that have chosen not to implement Math Connects in grades 3 – 8 this year.

Enrollment Projections.  Ms Bell asked that the enrollment projections that will be presented next week include information about base school enrollment before transfers in and out are counted.

  • Betty Covington

Mrs Covington asked that care be given with the schedules for Back to School Nights.

  • Alyson Satterwhite

Math Textbooks.  Mrs Satterwhite stated that parents in her district and outside of it have questions and deserve answers.  She asked the division to report on how much was spent on Math Investigations materials for grades 3 – 5, which are supposed to be using Math Connects this year.  She asked if the choice to purchase Math Investigations materials was left to the classroom teachers or if administration required that Math Investigations materials be purchased.  Ms Satterwhite mentioned the PWCS Common Formative Assessments, which are tests developed by PWCS that are given to students throughout the year.  Ms Satterwhite asked if teachers have to give their students those tests or if the tests are optional.  Ms Satterwhite also asked if teachers are allowed to cast the PWCS lesson pacing and planning calendars aside and do their own thing.  For instance, would a teacher be allowed to teach solely from Math Connects following the text in sequential order, or do teachers have to follow the lesson progression provided by PWCS in the lesson placing and planning calendars with the materials indicated in those documents.

  • Dr Otaigbe

Dr Otaigbe offered his congratulations to PWCS on SOL test scores but stated that SAT scores are a concern to him.  He asked the school division to report on what steps it is taking to improve our students’ SAT scores.

  • Mr Johns

Echoed Ms Bell and Satterwhite’s concerns about math textbooks.

  • Mrs Ramirez

Mrs Ramirez was unable to attend the meeting.


3 Responses to “Must See TV”

  1. Our Schools Says:

    Awesome job! Thank you for posting this information.

  2. Michele Boyd Says:

    Yes, thank you for this information. Sad that only one board member, Dr. Otaigbe, seems to be concerned about the SAT scores. What’s up with him congratulating PWCS on its SOL test scores, however? Did he not comprehend how poor they are, mostly lagging behind both state and national averages? Not to mention worlds apart from Fairfax and Loudon?

    • pwceducationreform Says:

      Unfortunately Dr O fell into the same trap we’ve encountered all these years – selective reporting of success by the school division. During his comments the Superintendent stated that our SOL scores overall exceeded state averages, and that’s all he said. Based on that, one could reasonably come away with the belief that all was well.

      Yet again, it’s what isn’t reported that tells the whole story. In general our SOL scores tend to exceed sate averages in elementary school, but fall behind state averages once our kids hit high school. No mention was made of our scores relative to regional averages because we don’t look good when we’re compared with Fairfax, Loudoun, Fauquier, or Stafford.

      Our SOL scores for economically disadvantaged kids tend to exceed state and regional averages, but our SOL scores for financially stable kids tend to lag behind state and regional averages. Also not reported because it makes us look bad. It seems like PWCS’ central administration believes its job is to make the school division look good, not accurately and completely report the results of our children’s performance on state and national exams.

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