School Board Report – Feb. 6, 2013

School Board Report for February 6, 2013.

The meeting began at 7:15 pm.  All members were present.

Consent Agenda

There were a number of items on the consent agenda.  One item, the sale of the VPSA bonds, was moved to the regular agenda prior to the meeting.  The items on the consent agenda, which are listed below, were approved unanimously.

  1. Adoption of the Consent Agenda
  2. Newspaper in Education Week
  3. School Board Clerk Appreciation Week
  4. Licensed Practical Nursing Budget
  5. National Women’s History Month
  6. 2013 Summer School Program
  7. MOU between Shenandoah University and PWCS
  8. Contract Award – Construction of Haymarket Drive Elementary School
  9. Land Acquisition for Construction of Kilby Elementary School Replacement
  10. School Board Review and Approval of December 2012 Payroll
  11. Confirmation of Board Poll on Resolution Supporting Teacher Continuing Contracts
  12. Approval of School Board Minutes for January 16 2013 Meeting
  13. Approval of Disciplinary Hearing Minutes

Citizen Comments

Five Citizens addressed the school board.

  • Matthew Dish spoke about the need for awareness and prevention of eating disorders in the public schools, those eating disorders being both anorexia and obesity.
  • Reilly O’Casey, Vice President of PWEA, thanked the school board for opposing the elimination of teacher continuing contracts.
  • Kim Simons asked how the school division could afford to build and operate a pool in the 12th high school when our schools are overcrowded, our class sizes are the largest in the state,  and our teachers are among the lowest paid in the area.
  • John Cogalon spoke as a parent and coach about insufficient fields in the county and need for youth athletic teams to access to school athletic fields for games and practices.
  • Nana Amaniampong is a 5th grade student at MLK Jr Elementary.  Nana read an essay he wrote for MLK day.  He received an award from the PWC Alumni Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta for his essay.  Unfortunately, he ran out of time and was unable to read his letter in its entirety.  Nana’s Dad was kind enough to give me a copy of his essay, which you can read here.  The_Time_is_always_right

Regular Meeting

Science Textbook Adoption

PWCS presented the list of the Science textbooks the textbook adoption committee recommended to the school board at the January 16, 2013 meeting.

Questions:

Keen – committee did a lot of work and put a lot of thought into this selection.  For some of the courses the quality seemed to fall off as the recommendation was less we like this book and more this was the best we had to choose from.

  • Answer – committee strongly supported all of the texts.

Covington – did we get complimentary copies of anything.

  • Answer – all of that comes after the process.

Jessie – I understand that there’s differentiation at the K – 5 level.  Is there some differentiation provided at the 6 -12 level?

  • Answer – Yes.

Dr Otaigbe – Sometimes people come after the fact to question the process

  • Answer – I think we did an outstanding job and worked very effectively.

Dr Otaigbe – People with different viewpoints were able to express their opinions?  Decisions were made by consensus.

  • Answer – Yes.  Decisions were by consensus.

Trenum – Can we get copies of the rubrics used and the scores recorded.  Was the response to the middle school and high school texts just as overwhelming as it was for the elementary texts?

  • Answer –  Support for Middle School and High School texts was overwhelming

Bell – how many of these are the books we’re currently using?

  • Answer – would have to go back and look.  I think it’s more so in high school that we’re using updated versions.

Dr Otaigbe – will these resources allow parents to be able to participate both digitally and with hard back books?

  • Answer – all book have online resources that are available.

Comprehensive Annual Report (CAFR)

The school division’s independent external auditor presented the results of the annual audit, which is included in the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR).  You can find an electronic copy of the report here .  The auditors provided an unqualified opinion on the financial statements of the school system.  No audit adjustments were needed.  Student activity funds (like PTA’s) are audited by other auditors.  There were no disagreements of difficulties with management.  In the auditor’s judgment, the accounting procedures PWCS utilizes are appropriate.  There was no evidence of significant fraud.  The audit was conducted as part of a single audit of both the county government and the school division and was considered high risk.

Editor’s note – to clarify what this all means…the external auditor examines the financial statements PWCS prepares to determine whether they accurately represent the financial operations of the school division.  Accurately representing the financial operations of the school division means expenses are not understated and revenues are not overstated. The auditors only look at a sample of transactions because looking at every transaction would take too long.  The auditors verify that the accounting procedures chosen by the school division for certain types of transactions, like asset depreciation, are appropriate for the situation and that they are followed consistently from year to year.  They check for evidence of fraud, but that is not their overall objective.

An unqualified opinion does not mean that the school division is using it’s money wisely, nor does it mean that there is no fraud or malfeasance.  It just means that the financial statements PWCS prepared and included in the CAFR are as accurate as they can be.

Questions:

Covington – Does your firm also audit the PWC Government?

  • Answer – Yes

Covington – Is that why we’re with your firm to do the audit of our system?

  • Answer – Yes

Covington – Just a suggestions – I don’t know what to ask because I just got this.  It would help if we could get this ahead of time so that we can review and know what to ask?

Trenum – under auditors judgment.  management employs an appropriate level of conservativism?  What is that?

  • Answer – management makes decisions about accounting principles adopted.  Part of auditing process is ensuring that those principles are reasonable.

Dr O – looking at our self insurance program. Did you look at that?

  • Answer – Yes.

Dr O – So our self insurance is sound?

  • Answer – Based on our audit procedures, the financial statements are presented in accordance with the accounting principles and there are no finding that indicate that it is not sound.  We audit the organization as a whole, our engagement wasn’t designed to evaluate the soundness of the self insurance fund.  If we felt there was a concern we would have written a letter, but we didn’t write any letters.

Dr O – So firm that does our self insurance isn’t in damage of going bankrupt?

  • Answer – We didn’t have any concerns.

Bell – I have questions about the CAFR itself.  Do we discuss those tonight or send them to Mr Cline?

  • Answer – Cline – provide them to us and we’ll answer them.
  • Answer – Johns – we can set this as an agenda item again if necessary.

Keen – self insurance fund is an administrative contract?  So our relationship with them in right and it is being administrated as written?

  • Answer – Yes.

Trenum – Slide 7 judgements and estimates.  Are we talking about VRS?

  • Answer – We have the actuary reports, but don’t comment on the state of VRS as a whole.  We just look at whether the school division’s liability regarding VRS is properly reported.

Cline.  In many ways this is as good as an audit gets.  We had no reportable conditions, no adjustments, and problems with staff.  Want to thank and congratulate accounting staff.

FY 2013 2nd Quarter Budget Review

PWCS provided a update of the 2nd quarter financial operations of the school division (see here).  As a result of funding changes and reduced expenses, the school division projects a that it will have $21,734,246 available at the end of the fiscal year.  That money will be used as follows:

  • Increase in Holdback Reserve – 1,500,000
  • Transfer to PWC – 1,154,863
  • Increase in Fund Balance Reserve – 3,452,185
  • Carry Forward to FY 2014 – 7,813,975
  • Carry Forward to FY 2015 – 7,813,223

Editor’s note – you can only find this update in the agenda for the meeting.  The presentation is nowhere on the PWCS web site that I’ve been able to locate.  This information really should published on the PWCS web site and be more accessible to the public. 

Questions:

Trenum – as far as fund balance policy, when we talk about the 1.5% policy, can you explain this and why?

  • Answer – most organization have a fund balance policy where they hold money in reserve for emergencies.  Last year we put this policy in place and hope to hold 1.5%, or $12 million, in total in reserve.  We’re phasing that in at a rate of 1/4 of 1/5% each year.

Trenum – How does this differ from the general reserve

  • Answer – The general reserve is budgeted each yea that we have access to in the event of emergencies. For instance, in FY 11 we used those dollars for shortfalls.  The fund balance dollars would sit on our balance sheet and we’d have to ask for permission to use them from you and the county.

Keen – quick note of those reserves, what interest are we earning on them

  • Answer – about 1/5 of a % on our investments.

Trenum – on the FY 2014 and 2015 carry forward.  Why are we splitting those across the years?

  • Answer – We need about $21 million for undelivered orders and commitments at the beginning of each year.  We reserved about $13. 3 million to from the FY 2013 budget to utilize in the FY 2014 budget.  This additional $7 million gets us to the $21 million we need at the beginning of FY 2014 that we will need for undelivered orders and commitments from FY 2013.  The money we’re pushing to FY 2015 will be used to fund the undelivered orders and commitments that carry forward from FY 2014.

Trenum – the Holdback allocation – is that used for additional students added into classes in schools?

  • Answer – Yes, generally in special ed.

Johns – want the elevator speech for 21 million carry forward.  Explain this quick and dirty.

  • $21 million that you see at the top of the that column is not over funding.  It’s money that will be used to support school budgets this year and in coming years.  Money will allow us to even out over swings in revenue so that we don’t have to cut one year and then re-hire next year.

FY 2014 Proposed Budget – Executive Summary

PWCS presented the FY 2014 proposed budget (see here for the executive summary). Highlights include the following:

  • Budget was prepared assuming state funding and cost of competing funds will increase or remain unchanged (Editor’s note:  cost of competing funds are additional money PWCS gets from the state because of the high cost of living in NOVA)
  • Budget was prepared assuming 4% increase in local property taxes
  • Enrollment is projected to increase 2,089 students next year
  • Teachers will not receive a step increase.  Instead they’ll get a 2% across the board increase in pay from PWCS and a 1% increase in pay from the state.  The 1% they receive from the state will got to VRS.  {editor’s note – this 1% from the state for VRS isn’t free to the county because it does not include payroll taxes.  PWCS still has to find 13% of that 1% for payroll taxes that are paid to the feds.  The net effect to PWCS is, reportedly, about $1 million}
  • Health Insurance Rates will increase 5%
  • Debt service costs will increase $3.9 million

Questions

No questions were asked as detailed budgets and public hearings will be in the next few weeks.

Procurement Card Policy

PWCS presented the new policy for procurement cars at the January 16, 2013 school board meeting.   The policy was approved with unanimous consent.

Sale of $67 million in VSPA Bonds

This item was pulled from the consent agenda after questions emerged when the dollar amount of the bonds being issued for the Haymarket Drive elementary school exceeded the amount awarded in the bid to build the school.  PWCS will be issuing bonds totaling $67.26 million for the following projects:

  • Elementary School-Haymarket/UVA; $27,663,000
  • Nokesville K-8 School; $11,000,000
  • River Oaks Elementary Addition (7 rooms); $5,913,000
  • Parkside Middle Addition/IHS West (16 rooms); $10,559,000
  • Renewal-Dumfries Elementary School; $3,825,000
  • Featherstone Elementary Addition (6 rooms); $300,000
  • 12th High School/IHS (Mid-County); $8,000,000

Questions:

Trenum – On the list are two issues.  On the Haymarket school, we are pulling bonds for over $27 million but the bid came in at $18.8 million.  Please explain that.  Also please explain why we’re pulling $8 million in bonds for the 12th high school.

  • Answer – Cline- in looking the Haymarket elementary school.  We filled out the application for bonds based on our projection of costs before bid was awarded.  There are about $4.9 million in additional expenses that we will incur for the school that are not included in the construction bid.  The remainder will be used for other capital projects that haven’t gone to bid yet or will go to bid in subsequent years.
  • Answer Cline – – for the 12th high school, we are at the stage where the HS will be going to the county in the near to immediate future and will be awarding the contract in the late spring or early summer.

Trenum – part of this comes from the fact that people can’t co-relate the bonds issued to the schools.  Can we pull together what our actual costs are versus the bonds that are used to fund projects and presenting how the bond money is spent year to year in a clearer manner?

Keen – lack of transparency jumped out at me as well.  If $4 million isn’t for Haymarket school, then the school should be shown at the bid amount, not bond amount.

  • Answer – Cline – we track those actual expenditures.

Vote was unanimous.

Naming of Story Room at Gravely Elementary for Mrs. Alma Gravely

Mrs Satterwhite  – I moved this item to the regular agenda.  Mrs Gravely is the school grandmother.  School in named in honor of her husband, but when you go into the school you see Mrs Gravely.  She’s an integral part of the partnership the school has with the USS Gravely.  We appreciate everything Mrs Gravely does for the school division and the school.  Thank you for your service to our county and our county.

Vote was unanimous.

Board Comments

Mrs Jessie:  Shout out to two people at Old Bridge to #5 and the teacher who wore the dolphin suit.  All those schools and as a division, we’re looking for excellence and equity in excellence.

Trenum:  Met with Piney Branch elementary about budget.  Last weekend joined Cedar Point Ruti-youth club for first annual groundhog day pancake dinner.  Budget season is kicking off.  School board wants process to be as transparent as possible.  Ms Satterwhite and I have a budget committee.  We will be meeting each week until we’re done with this.  I will be posting the questions I and the committee as to social media.

Covington:  Dr Otaigbe and Mr Keen and I attended the human rights awards breakfast.  I was pleased to be able to attend.  Dr Otaigbe attended the MLK oration contest.  I want to congratulate the winners.  Dr Otiagbe and Ms Jessie and I attended the Dale City civic association awards banquet. Want to congratulate those winners as well.  Attended Traingle’s SOE celebration and want to congratulate them.  Attended Montclair’s celebration for 10 years as a school of excellence.  Also attended Ashland’s 8 years as a school of excellence celebration.  Thank you Henderson for sign.

Dr Otaigbe:  Has been a wonderful week.  Today is a special day, it is Feb 6,  Happy Digital Learning Day!  I attended a virtual townhall as a part of the celebration.  This is part of a national campaign to promote digital learning in K – 12 classrooms.  Hopefully next year it will be a bigger event with expanded access to digital learning.  Yesterday I participated in the school of excellence celebration at Signal Hill.  We were entertained by school choir and fed by Yorkshire restaurant.  Want to thank team at Yorkshire for the invitation.  Also went to Kilby elementary to attend their storytelling event.  We showed the children how to use their imaginations and create stories for all to enjoy.  Coles elementary children wrote letters for whole school board to enjoy.

Bell – congratulate Bel Aire elementary for their 5th year as a school of excellence.  Congratulate Heather Hill from Enterprise for her book.  Congratulations to Dale City award winners.  I would like to request two things from Mr Cline.  I’d like to get the actual costs of Battlefield High school, Piney Branch, and T Clay Wood.  I’d like to see the blueprints for the 12th high school.  I’m curious to see that those blueprints are.  Before we invest more money into the design of this school, I’d like to have some input on the design and programs that will in that school.

Mrs Covington:  Mrs Bell said what I was going to say.

Mrs Satterwhite: Last week I was at BRMS school of excellence ceremony.  Orchestra was terrific and art work was great.  Went to PACE west for donations of computers from two community organizations.  Yesterday went to Sinclair elementary and I brought the banner they gave me.  Thank you for your hospitality.  Will be at MT view SOE celebration next week and want to thank student from Battlefield for giving me this beautiful drawing.

Ms Bell:  Attended MLK celebration at King.  King is one of the most diverse schools we have.  We say a lot about pretty schools.  King needs some work, but it was the most amazing program.  The last sing was an old Michale Jackson song and there wasn’t a dry eye in that cafeteria.  It lived up to Dr Kings dream.  Thank you for the program and for having me.

Mr Keen:  Thank folks at Porter.  Helped turn the fist shovels of dirt there and am very impressed.  Students were happy and learning.  Hope as budget woes ease maybe we can look at opening two more traditional schools.  Thanks to staff for responding to questions I had.  I’m forming a budget committee.  Anyone interested in serving please let me know.  It easy to get wrapped around the idea that schools are the brick and mortar, but schools are the people who teach and learn in them, not the buildings themselves.

Dr Otaigbe:  Virtual High school that high school students can take classes from free of charges is wonderful information.  That will help our students and provide them with flexibility.  On line learning is the wave of the future, so students need to be familiar with it.

Mr Johns:  Before meet again we will celebrate President’s day.  One of the fisr things we did was add that to tht calendar.  When Dr Otaigbe said today was a special day, I thought you were going to steal my thunder, but you didn’t. Happy Birthday to Ronald Regagn.  I’d like to ask what the additional of the pool in the 12th high school would cost in debt service.,  I don;t that will affect our ability to give raises or reduce class sizes as it’s amortized over 20 years, but I’d like to know that.  I’d also like to investigate the revenue possibilities from leasing the pool to outside groups.  I think the pool is a great idea,  We have lots of issues, including title 9, especially as title 9 now applies to special ed.  Swimming is easily adaptable to many conditions.  My daughter swan for over a decade in PWC in community leagues and in high school.. There are thousands of kids who swim.  Between our high school students and the community swim leagues, our high school students have to get up at 4 am to practice.  It is difficult to get water and lane times and is extremely expensive.  This could easily recoup the costs and be a benefit to the community.  I want to be on the record early that I think this is a great idea and think we’ll make the money back.

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One Response to “School Board Report – Feb. 6, 2013”

  1. More Contract Awards for Less than Bonds Pulled on Agenda for April 3, 2013 School Board Meeting | PWC Education Reform Blog Says:

    […] The bids received for the Parkside addition can be found here.  The lowest bids were between $8.5 million and $8.6 million.  Several bids in that range were received.    The agenda item does not note which company was the low bidder. Bonds in the amount of $10.559 million were approved for this project at the Feb.6 , 2013 School Board Meeting. […]


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