School Board Report – March 20, 2013

School Board Report for March 20, 2013.  This report includes notes from the budget mark-up and work session that was not televised.

The meeting began a 7:08 with all members except Lisa Bell present.

Consent Agenda

The items on the consent agenda were approved unanimously by the members present.  The items on the agenda include the following:

  1. Designating April 21 – 27, 2013  as Administrative Professionals Week
  2. Designating May 2013 as Asian-Pacific-American Heritage Month
  3. Designating April 2013 as Child Abuse Prevention Month
  4. Designating May 2013 as Jewish-American Heritage Month
  5. Designating April 2013 as Mathematics Awareness Month
  6. Designating April 2013 as National Autism Awareness Month
  7. Designating May 2013 as National Physical Fitness and Sport Month
  8. Designating April 21 – 27, 2013 as Public Schools Volunteer Week
  9. Designating May 8, 2013 as School Nurse Appreciation Day
  10. Designating April 15 – 19, 2013 as Transportation Employees Week
  11. Approval of documents necessary or convenient for the construction and/or operation of school additions at River Oaks Elementary School and Parkside Middle School
  12. Approval of School Board Meeting Minutes for March 13, 2013

Public Hearing on the FY 2014 Budget

Chairman Johns convened the public hearing on the FY 2014 budget.

One citizen, Jim Livingston, PWEA President, addressed the school board regarding the budget.  Mr Livingston said that the board and school division needed to develop a long term strategy for reducing class sizes and improving teacher compensation.  He said those issues should be our top priorities.  He reminded school board members to be careful what they cut because cuts to many programs, like tuition assistance, have an adverse impact on teacher compensation. {Editor’s note:  The state of Va and PWCS require teachers to take a certain number of graduate level courses from accredited colleges and universities to maintain their teaching certificates.  PWCS provides $700 per course in assistance to teacher’s taking these courses.  The budget for this item has been reduced to such an extent that the money available for teacher tuition assistance ran out in 9 weeks this year} 

Citizen Comments

10 Citizens addressed the school board

Speaker #1 is a student at SJHS.  He’sa baseball player and mentioned a race one of his coaches had had with another player.  The coach won the race, but a few weeks later was diagnosed with a rare blood cancer.  The student decided to organize a fundraiser as his community service project.  He organized the first annual Stonewall Jackson High School Home Run Derby.  He raised $820 for cancer research in honor of his coach.

Speaker #2 is a student at Cedar Point Elementary School.  She’s the President of her schools’ Ruti-youth club, which is a your club sponsored by the Ruritans that is dedicated to improving the community through charity.  She discussed the projects the club has doe, from trail maintenance to putting together boxes for families in need to creating ornaments for SPCA to help homeless pets find their forever homes.  There are more than 60 students in Cedar Point’s Ruti-youth club and chapters at Marsteller Middle School, T Clay Wood Elementary School, Nokesville Elementary School, and Patriot High School.

Speaker #3 is student who participated on the robotic competition team from Gar-Field High School.  The team designed projects that were tested on the International Space Station.

Speaker #4 supports the pool in the 12th high school.  She stated that the 2nd leading cause of childhood death is drowning and supports the pool because it will provide the school division with the ability to provide swim lessons for all students.

Speaker #5 supports the pool in the 12th high school.  She stated that swimming provides both educational and health benefits.

Speaker #6 supports the pool in the 12th high school.  He is the General Manager of the Lakeridge Lancer Swim Team and cited the need for additional swim lanes for year round swim clubs as the reason for his support of the pool.

Speaker #7 supports the pool in the 12th high school.  She said she believes the pool will bring in added revenue and provides excellent opportunities for handicapped children to exercise and move their bodies.

Speaker #8 supports the pool in the 12th high school.  He stated that there are more than 700 signatures in support of the pool and asked the BOCS and school board to make sure funding for the pool is a priority.

Speaker #9 supports the pool in the 12th high school because we need  additional swim lanes for year round swim clubs.

Speaker #10 supports the pool in the 12th high school because pools provide an excellent avenue for senior citizens to exercise and for people with injuries to receive rehab.

Budget Work Session and Mark-up

The school board temporarily suspended the meeting to hold a work session and final mark-up on the FY 2014 budget.

The Superintendent provided his cuts to the originally proposed FY 2014 budget.  Those reductions were as follows (you can find the cuts for each department and school here)

The reductions, which total $5.6 million,  include the following:

  • Postpone Technology Improvement Program – 500,000
  • Cancel expanding specialty programs – 100,000
  • Reduce allocation to Governor’s School – 50,543
  • Reduce budget for utilities – 484,481
  • Reduce allocations to Elementary Schools – 1,429,707
  • Reduce allocation to Middle Schools – 636,201
  • Reduce allocation to High Schools – 807,832
  • Reduce allocation to Traditional Schools – 44,220
  • Reduce allocations to Other Schools – 69,957
  • Reduce School Based Programs – 20,178
  • Reduce Central Offices – 1,451,301

Opening Statements (Editor’s note:  this is not an exact transcript.  comments are paraphrased)

Dr Otiagbe – Thank you to Superintendent and staff for work preparing budget.  Thank you to Principals for all you do and attending this meeting.

Mr Trenum – Thank you to Superintendent, staff, and Principals.  I sent several proposals to Mr Cline for impact analysis to see where savings might be found.  I appreciate Mr Cline taking the time to respond to those questions in such detail.

Mrs Satterwhite – Thank you to Superintendent, staff, and Principals.  This budget is a starting point for discussion.  I’m shocked with the cuts to our school budgets and not pleased about them.  We need to address our Middle School programs, class sizes, and teacher compensation.

Mrs Jessie – Thank you to Superintendent, staff, and Principals. I want our compensation to be competitive. I’m glad the salary increase is still in the budget.  If we want to meet the new state accountability requirements we must make professional development a priority.  We must visit other divisions to see how they’re doing things and must bring in people from outside the school division to improve the professional development we provide out faculty and staff.

Mr Keen – Thank you to Superintendent, staff, and Principals.  When the school board appointed me I promised I wouldn’t propose any new initiatives because I believe that’s not something an appointed member should do.  I will, however, support or oppose initiatives proposed by other members.  To me the biggest issues and highest priorities facing this school division are bringing class sizes down and improving teacher compensation.

Mrs Covington – Thank you to Superintendent, staff, and Principals.

Questions & Proposals (Editor’s note:  this is not an exact transcript.  comments are paraphrased)

Dr Otiagbe – Can we cut an additional $100,000 from the Technology Improvements Program so that specialty programs can be expanded?

  • Response – no, because there’s nothing left there to cut.  The Technology Improvement Program was originally $4.5 million, we cut $4 million when we prepared the original FY 2014 budget and cut the remaining $500,000 when we prepared the adjusted budget.

Mrs Jessie – I know that several school board members have these budget committees.  I’d like to know how these committees don’t undermine or otherwise interfere with the Principal’s Advisory Council, which we’re required to have.  I’d also like to know why these questions keep getting asked over and over again.

  • Response – Mr Trenum &  Mrs Satterwhite  – we formed a join committee.   The purpose of the committee was to advise us about the budget overall and had nothing to do with the school advisory councils.
  • Response – Mr Cline – the questions were only asked one time.  Mr Trenum and Ms Bell provided me with questions from their committees and from other board members shortly before the work session last week.  We answered many of the questions they provided that night.  The written responses I gave you tonight were the finance department wirting down those responses and clarifying further.

Mr Trenum – I’d like to propose that we put the roughly $3.1 million back into the schools by reducing the budgets for bus and vehicle replacements in the Fixed Charges Budget by $2.2 million and reducing the budget for Misc Projects in the Facilities Services budget by $600,000. {Editor’s Note – the chart below provides the budgeted expenditures in those lines.  Mr Trenum’s proposal would have cut $2.2 million from 5510 & 5511 and $600,000 from 3500}

FY 2011 FY 2012 FY 2012 FY 2013 FY 2014
Actual Actual Budget Budget Budget
5510 Vehicles Replacement 191,242 902,186 1,008,337 833,874 1,037,907
5511 Buses Replacement 842,696 2,801,317 5,145,000 5,145,000 6,510,000
3500 Miscellaneous Projects 21,226 6,448 1,391,941 1,439,461 1,475,161
5110 Vehicles Additional 46,974 135,735 226,179 222,468 170,147
5111 Buses Additional 2,526,188 2,254,859 2,955,395 2,730,662 2,223,502
  • Mrs Satterwhite – I agree with Mr Trenum’s proposal. We cut schools last year. We need to find a way to put that money back into the schools.
  • Superintendent Walts– I want to point out that we’ve cut bus and vehicle replacement nearly every year. The 7 & 14 year refurbishments that misc projects funds make a huge difference in how our schools look.
  • Mr Cline – $2.2 million is roughly 21 buses.
  • Mrs Jessie – I worry about cutting the bus replacement budget. It brings back memories of buses breaking down and students stranded on the side of the road.
  • Chairman Johns – can I have an informal show of hands for or against Mr Trenum’s proposal?
  • Informal show of hands was 2 in favor – Satterwhite and Trenum with all others opposed.

Chairman Johns – are there any further adjustments?

  • Response – no.

The meeting then returned to the board room for the televised and recorded vote.

Vote on FY 2014 Budget

Mt Trenum added a friendly amendment to the FY 2014 budget calling for a zero-based budget in FY 2015.  The amendment was accepted and the vote in favor of the FY 2014 adjusted budget, including the requirement that the FY 2015 budget be zero based, was approved unanimously by all board members in attendance.

Board Comments

Mrs Jessie – Schools are like businesses, we need to recognize and celebrate excellence.

Mr Trenum – Congratulations to Piney Branch Elementary for making School of Excellence.

Mrs Covington – Thank you to Saunders Middle School for inviting me to attend your career day event.  It was an amazing event.

Dr Otiagbe – Thank you to Saunders Middle School for inviting me to attend your career day event. Students were well prepared and very professional.  I attended the PW / Manassas Regional Science Fair on Saturday.  It was an amazing event.

Mrs Satterwhite – Mr Ramadan asked me to mention that he will be having a town hall meeting this Saturday at Alvey elementary.  I want people to understand that I take student safety very seriously and would never propose anything that I felt would jeopardize student safety.  I am pleased we will have a zero based budget in FY 2015.  As board members we are accountable to the public.  I want to thank the citizens who served on the Brentsville and Gainesville Budget Committees.

Mr Keen – Congratulations to Featherstome Elementary for achieving School of Excellence.  I am excited about the improvements at Featherstone.  Thank you to the citizens who served on the Neabsco / Woodbridge budget committee.

Chairman Johns – Ms Bell sends her regrets for being unable to attend this meeting.  I attended the Food Show at Patriot High school last night and was very impressed.  The school board motto is “will work for food”.  We will be back together in April.  Have a great Passover, Easter, and Spring Break.

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