School Board Report – May 1, 2013

School Board Report for May 1, 2013.

UPDATE: Please be advised that comments are not verbatim.

All members were present.

Consent Agenda

  1. All items on the consent agenda were approved unanimously. The items on the agenda include the following:
  2. Annual Local Plan for Career and Technical Education as required Carl D Perkins CTE Act of 2006
  3. Award bid for construction of a paved bus parking lot with lights at Gar-Field High School to Finley Asphalt & Sealing for  $1,801,191 {editor’s note – budget for this project was $1 million}
  4. Award bid for partial roof replacement at Gar-Field High School to Northeast Contracting Corporation for $979,841 {editor’s note – budget for this project was $1.4 million}
  5. Award bid for partial roof replacement at Woodbridge High School to Orndorff & Spaid for  $1,467,192 {editor’s note – budget for this project was $1.2 million}
  6. Special warrant for School Board review and approval of March 2013 payroll
  7. MOU between PWCS and the Northern Virginia Workforce Investment Board to support the PWCS Adult Education Regional Program for 2012 – 2014
  8. Certifying VRS Resolution as required per SB497 passed in the General Assembly in 2012.
  9. Approval of Disciplinary Hearing Minutes from April 10, 2012
  10. Approval of School Board Meeting Minutes for March 20, 2013

Citizen Comments

11 Citizens signed up to speak, with several group presentations.

Citizen #1 – a Senior at Patriot High School spoke about an award she won from PWCSA art competition and asked school division to continue supporting Art programs in schools.

Citizen #2, #3, and #4 –  three fifth grade students from Ashland Elementary spoke about a program they organized called “Ashland Gives Back” and the community service programs they supported.

Citizen #5 & #6 – two students from Stonewall Middle School spoke about a field trip they attended at Prince William Forest Park. Watching their teacher fall off a log into the creek was one of the highlights of their trip.

Citizen #7 – a group of fifth grade students at Thurgood Marshall Elementary spoke about working as a peer mediators at their school, Rachel’s Challenge, and Guardian Eagle pins.

Mr Johns – I am so proud of all of our students who came out tonight. I am in awe of what wonderful students we have. These are the kind of moments that make it worthwhile to be a school board member.

Citizen #8 – a teacher at Forest Park High School spoke about the academic rigor of the Learn and Serve Program. Learn and Serve is a portfolio based program as opposed to a testing based program. Portfolio driven classes can be of considerable technical quality and rigor. When students make choices about their education their performance improves. Shouldn’t we give our students more choice instead of less?

Citizen #9 – a senior at FPHS spoke about his experience in Learn and Serve and what it taught him about who he wants to be. He said Learn and Serve has changed his life and thanked the school board for providing Learn and Serve. He volunteers at a homeless shelter. He’s had to learn how to say no to people, which he noted is hard to do when people are begging for help from him on their knees. He said that Learn and Serve makes him feel like he can make a difference.

Citizen #10 – a senior at FPHS spoke at Learn and Serve and the letter she wrote about the program. She read a letter she wrote to the President of the US. In her letter she discusses the time she spent volunteering in an elementary school. She discussed the things she observed as a volunteer in a classroom.

Citizen #11 – a senior at FPHS spoke at Learn and Serve and the letter she wrote about the program to President Obama. As her Learn and Serve project she volunteered in a 5th grade classroom and helped autistic and ESOL students. She said every child deserves and equal education and chance to succeed.

Citizen #13 – Jim Livingston, the President of PWEA, siad, “it is the young people that we have seen this evening make it an honor to call myself an educator”. Mr Livingston discussed the NEA’s Read Across America activities in PWC. “You are never too old, too wacky, too wild to take up a book and read.”

Editor’s Note: I’ve attended a lot of School Board meetings and have noticed that School Board members and staff frequently pass notes to one another. I hope staff are keeping these notes as they are subject to FOIA.

Regular Agenda

Eliminating “College Preparatory” Semester Exams at the High School Level

Currently policies require teachers to administer mid-term exams before grades can be awarded. As a result, when weather conditions result in school closings around the middle of term, the schedule for the entire school division gets mucked up. Because of limited time for exams each day, students lose two or more instructional weeks in the middle of the year. The policy was begun before AP / IB / and Cambridge exams were available, are no longer necessary, and are of questionable academic value. The High School Principals, all 11 of them, have asked that they be allowed to pilot different mid-term exams to ease scheduling issues and not lose instructional time.

Mr Johns – I appreciate the background that you gave us inteh first slide.  This is one of those issues in a hug school system, this, to me, I’ve been aware of it and it seems like it’s one of those things that we do because we’ve always done it.  What else can you teel me about it to explain why we do this.

Answer, Mr Mulgrew – this is the way we’ve always done this,  We think this started in the 70’s at that time we didn;t have a college type exam for students, so we did this.  Now things have changed,  We pay for AP exams.  We’re losing so much instructional time that we need to prepare for AP exams that are just a few weeks from now.

Ms Covington – all are of the Principals in board with this.

Answer, Mr Mulgrew – Yes

Ms Covington –  I think you folks are the experts at the secondary level.  I know this is a nightmare with scheduling, it affected the elementary schedules.  The entire school division schedule revolved around the high school schedule.  It was no an easy situation. To know you’re all on board and think this is best for your students, I respect your recommendations.

Dr Otiagbe – Are our teachers on board with this?

Dr Otaigbe – you’re shaking your head saying Yes

Answer, Mr Mulgrew – the vast consensus is that teachers support this.  To say every last teacher wouldn’t be accurate.

Dr Otaigbe – what will the push back be from those teachers

Answer, Mr Mulgrew – Once we show teachers the freedom this affords them, I think they’ll support it.

Dr Otaigbe – I see most of the Principals tonight – did they come of their free will.

Answer, Mr Mulgrew – about 7 years ago the HS Principals agreed to meet on the side.  They meet without me.  They made an agreement that they would not write us a letter unless they all agree with it.  If any one Principal disagrees, that letter does not come.  The letter about this came before this January’s bad weather.

Ms Covington – I want to clarify, did you say they met on the side without you?

Answer, Mr Mulgrew – yes, and I’m fine with that.

Mr Trenum – I was looking past you to Mr Livingston and he was nodding as well, so that’s a good thing.  I think this is a good thing.  How will this be implemented?  Will every high school be participating in the pilot

Answer, Mr Mulgrew – yes.  All have decided to do this.

Mr Trenum – maybe we should listen to our Principals about the 11th grade research paper.

Ms Bell –  I respect the collaboration you have.  The AP / IB & A level tests, what is an A level test?

Answer, Mr Mulgrew – A level is a Cambridge test.  We use Ace.  Ace and A level, are the same thing

Ms Bell – the AP / IB / and Cambridge exams are the collegiate level exams.  For students who don;t take those classes, what do they get?

Answer, Mr Mulgrew – SOLs & final assessments.  Giving our students mroe time should improve our test scores.

Ms Bell – Principals can make decisions at their based schools.

Answer, Mr Mulgrew – the change is what they all want.

Ms Satterwhite – thank you for this presentation and for coming out and showing us how important this is.  I am very happy to see this presentation.  Most of my questions were already asked, and I appreciate Mr Trenum’s comment about the 11th grade research paper.

Mr Keen – getting 16 people to agree on a location for lunch is impossible,  I know you don’t make this decision lightly.  This just make sense and its amazing that it took this long to change it.

Ms Jessie – Commend you for the collaboration and for giving greater autonomy to each school.  Will ongoing formative assessments be done at each school before the exams?

Answer, Mr Mulgrew – we currently do a good job on giving formative assessments.  Just doing a summative assessment is something we’re trying to get away from.

Revisions to the 2013 – 2014 Code of Behavior

Proposed changes are result of joint task force.  We have received positive feedback about the on-line code of behavior.  To ensure that we are continuing to meet the needs of all stakeholders,  We had two committees this year.  We conducted a comprehensive review of major policies.  We have few revisions.  Most of the revisions are due to changes in state code and clarifications.  Changes include: definition of bullying to reflect house bill 1871, school bus rules for specialty programs, and changes to the zero-tolerance policy.

Ms Covington – I noticed in the zero tolerance, I didn’t see verbal abuse or profanity to staff addressed.

Answer – that is an egregious offense and students who engage in such behavior can be and will be disciplined up to and including expulsion.

Ms Covington – is that in writing in there anywhere.

Answer – profanity itself is not mentioned, but threats and verbal abuse are.   Profanity and Abuse are in the code of behavior on page 17.

Dr Otaigbe – I read in paper a few weeks ago that Fairfax put together a committee that looked into their disciplinary policies.  Are we aware of their report to see what we can learn from there.

A – I have spoken with my counterpart and am aware of the changes, but I have not seen teh report.

Mr Keen – on page 8, 6th paragraph,  why did we change will to shall?  Is that because staff must take action if this happens?

Answer – yes.  Teachers should take action if bullying takes place.

Mr Keen – when bullying happens, action must be taken.  Correct?  We’ve seen cases where nothing has been done, repeatedly.  I’m hoping this means your intention is that these situations will always be reported rather than passing over.

Answer – You are exactly correct.

Language Arts Textbook Adoption Timeline

Community members, faculty, and staff were invited to join the committee in February.  Publishers have sent their materials which will be located in schools across the county.  We will present our recommendations in 2014.  Books will be hands of our students in Fall of 2014.

Mr Johns – will the list of the committees be released?

Answer – Yes.

Mr Johns – textbook availability is a touchstone issue for some in the community.  Feedback is that every student should have a textbook for every class.  With the ELA textbooks, what sort of distribution standards are we looking at?

Answer – regulation says that each students should have a textbook available to them.  If a students asks for a textbook, the school is supposed to make that book available to them.  Parents just have to request that.

Ms Jessie – I have a comment.  Please make sure Writing component is looked heavily at as well as technology enhanced items from SOLs.

Answer – Yes

Ms Jessie – Will materials provide support for reading intervention and support for ESOL students?

Answer – Yes.  We have reading specialists and 6 ESOL teachers on committee

Dr Otaigbe – are History books part of this?

Answer – we’re a couple of years out before we look at that again

Mr Keen – with the BYOD, are we looking at books students can download to their own devices?

Answer – yes.  Many publishers are offering electronic books as part of their core package.

Mr Keen – by buying the book do you get a license to download?

Answer – most publishers are doing this for all editions.  We’re looking for publishers to offer digital books at discount when physical textbook is not purchased.

FY 2013 Third Quarter Budget Review

Project an available balance of $24,929,225 at the end of the fiscal year.  Projected use of those funds are:

  • Carry forward to FY 2014  – $7,813,974
  • Allocate to Hold Back Allocation – $250,000
  • Cover reduction in state revenue due to lower than anticipated increase in enrollment – $843,922
  • Contribution to Fund Balance Policy – $3,452,185 {Editor’s note: FY 2013 approved budgeted amount was $1,552,197, so this is an increase of $1,899,988}
  • Reserve for Bond credits lost due to sequestration – $129,263
  • Carry forward to FY 2015 – $11,064,880
  • Windows 7 Upgrade (50 / 50 split with schools) – $800,000
  • Purchase new Musical Instruments – $200,000
  • New Security Entrance Upgrades – $375,000

Funding outlook on the revenue side should be available soon.  On county side expect to have additional funds.

Mr Johns – on slide #4.  There was lots of interest from the public on the budget this time around.  I read this line “Projected available funds of $25 million”.  Why do schools need more money of we have $25 million left over?

Answer, Mr Wallingford – The first hing I’d suggest if that $25 million in a $1.3 million budget isn’t a large amount.  Almost $19 million of that is needed to support the FY 2014 and FY 2015 budgets which allows us to smooth our budgets in lean years.  We’ve build up these balances to avoid fluctuations that result in layoffs.

Answer, Mr Cline – In 2015, within the course of FY 2015, we will need to save another $6 million to support the 5 year plan and CIP.  Have to budget high for salaries and benefits and utilities so that we aren’t running out of money when we have a severe winter or hot fall and summer.

Mr Johns – Like the 2% salary increase, we have to provide that money each year versus a bonus that we pay one time.

Answer, Mr Cline – that works with our 5 year plan and ensures stable funding situation so we aren’t adding one year and cutting the next.

Mr Johns – the $3.4 million fund balance policy, do we give that back to the county

Answer, Mr Wallignford – No.  This is our unplanned emergency reserve.

Answer, Mr Cline – say State or County give us a budget cut during the year, we could use the Contingency Fund to ensure won’t have to make cuts mid-year.

Mr Johns – I know there are situations where if we have additional revenue then county takes our portion?

Answer, Mr Cline – the county has it’s own fund balance policy.  We transfer to the county 56.75% of that fund balance policy.  The county is of the mindset that in order to maintain our AAA bond rating, we can’t touch it, so we have our own fund balance to help us.

Mr Johns – Slide #5, we have three recommendations for additional spending.  Are these in FY 2014 budget?

Answer, Mr Cline – these are not in the 2014 budget as they are unfunded issues we’ve been trying to deal with.

Mr Trenum – Slide 4, Fund Balance Policy.  This sounds a lot like the General Reserve policy.  What’s the difference between the general reserve and the fund balance.

Answer, Mr Cline – cumulatively, they are funds available to the school division.  General Reserve funds are always available.  Fund Balance reserve funds will only be available with approval of the school board and BOCS.

Mr Trenum – slide 5, do we have any plan for how those will be allocated across the division

Answer, Mr Cline – there is a plan for allocating that.

Answer, Dr Walts –   lets look at the funding for the windows upgrade, as an example.  We began offering the 50/50 split.  Schools will be notified of the additional money and then we’ll get the list and we will spent it until the money is exhausted and will be able to cover 80% of the costs of the upgrade.

Mr Keen – You can’t use one time money for continuing expenses.  I understand carrying forward the $7.8 to FY 2014.  What concerns me is making the $11 million to FY 2015.  And it has the appearance to me that it looks like we’re taking continuing money but acting like it’s one time money.  $11 million is a lot of money.  If its reasonable to assume that will come in in a revenue stream, we could use that for class sizes.  Tell me if I’m wrong on this.

Answer, Dr Walts –  We talked about the challenge we have in FY 2015 due to CIP increase in that particular year.  This is meant to begin heading off the impact of that.

Answer, Mr Cline – we have some savings from the warmer winter and cooler spring.  But, we’ve also reduced the utility budgets due to the savings program.

Mr Keen – I understand that concept, and I get that there is this one time deal in FY 2015 with the CIP, but as long as no other glitches like that happen, wouldn’t that $11 million still be there for use?

Answer, Mr Cline – the excess here is one time money.

Ms Bell – Fund balance and General Reserve Balance and Beginning balnce are three separate pots.  I want to talk the untility projectionsf ro next year (page 3).  We did cut the bils for next year, but we also implemented this plan that’s supposed to get us savings.

Answer, Mr Cline – we have already cut the utility budgets to reflect the projected savings.

Ms Bell – will we get a breakdown of what those savings are?

Answer – Dr Walts, yes.

Ms Bell – finding for Windows 7 upgrade,.  You said this money would go towards the pot of the Windows 7 upgrade.  What is the average cost at a high school?  If a school sets aside $100,000 is that $100,000 from them and $100,000 from the division, so it’s $200,000?  Is the 50/50 just for schools or also for central office?

Answer,  Dr Walts –  yes.

Answer, Mr Imon- 50/50 is just for schools.  Know how many computers will have to be upgraded or replaced.

Ms Bell – the 50/50 program is first come first serve?

Answer, Mr Imon – we’ve offered it out there.  Completion of the program requires more money that is available, but I’m confident we can make that happen.

Ms Bell – was the funding of the upgrade ever something that central office would provide?

Answer, Dr Walts – over the past several years we’ve tried to fund technology improvements on an ongoing basis, but we’ve never had the money for that.  Schools have known for some time that they’ll have to come up with this money.

Proposed changes to policy 271 ‘Animals in Schools”.

Changes are minimal and editorial in nature.

– No questions.

Resolution asking Board of County Supervisors to reexamine proffer guidelines for new housing developments

Mr Trenum.  I asked that this be ion the agenda because budgets are getting tighter and tighter.  We expect to have 86,000 students next year and will add over 20,000 over the next 10 years.  Current proffer levels don’t fully offset the costs of the additional students that come into the system.  In order to keep accommodating these students we will have to be creative in ways we reduced costs, but we also need to look at the revenue side.  PWC has not updated our proffers since 2006 and the proffers we expect are lower than those received in every other division in the region.  {editor’s note- here is a chart of PROFFERS that we prepared a while back that lists the proffers in PWC and other counties near here}

Mr Keen – I wanted to do some other research. Loudoun has much healthier balance between business and residential taxes.  This appears to be part of the reason,.  With our proffers so low when compared with other districts, developers specifically target PWC.  This is the BOCS’ responsibility, but we owe them the benefit of our wisdom on this to demonstrate why this is important.

Mrs Covington – I’m glad Mr Trenum brought this forward.  I’m really surprised by this, especially that those south of us have higher proffers than we do.  Do we request the interest from proffers?

Answer, Mr Cline – Yes.

Dr Otaigbe – I like to look at the human side of things.  I want to thank BOCS for their historic vote on the budget increasing our share of county revenue.  I’m glad Mr Trenum brought this up.  This is a way we could get more funding without increases taxes of our citizens.  Isn’t there a a backlog of approved housing?

Answer, Cline – It is my understanding that there are 20,000 – 30,000 housing units that have been approved at the old rates but haven’t been built yet.  This would be looking at the future.

Dr Otaigbe – what about age restricted communities?

Answer, Cline – we do not revenue any proffers from age restricted communities.

Ms Satterwhite – I appreciate Mr Trenum bringing this forward today.  I do look forward to discussing this with Mr Candland.  I think the community will support this.

Ms Bell – I will be supporting this and met with Mr Jenkins about this last week.  This is a great way to increase funds for our schools.

Ms Jessie – I met with Lake Ridge to discuss renovations on the east end, this is something that will resonate with the public.

Mr Johns – I always try to maintain an open relationship with Chairman Stewart.  This is for info / action.  Can entertain resolution.

Mr Trenum – resolution asks the BOCS to look at proffers for new development to start conversation.

Mr Johns – the resolution asks the BOCS to reevaluate proffer guidelines.  We’re not telling them what it would be or must be, just to consider reevaluating.

Vote in favor of the resolution was unanimous.

Board Comments

Mr Keen – no comments

Ms Covington – On Friday I attended a SOE celebration at Henderson.  This is their 10th year.  They have been named a STEM school.  I attended the VSBA NE region meeting with Ms Satterwhite and Ms Bell.  One of the topics of the meeting that I learned a lot about was community colleges and maybe we are not steering our students towards community colleges enough. Chamber of Commerce lunch I attended, the student from Potomac who received a scholarship was one of my students at Dumfries years ago.  Like to thank our retirees for their years of service in our county.  We have 54 folks retire. I also attended the Potomac High School hall of fame reception for outstanding athletes.  I was impressed by the culinary arts students and the food they served.  I attended the VSBA’s hot topic meeting on the new form, procedure, and goals for the Superintendent’s evaluation.  I’m sure we’ll all be following the same process.  I want to thank Ashland students for being here tonight.  They should be commended for doing such good work.

Ms Jessie – I want to thank Ken Bassett for helping me understanding the CTE grant item on the budget.  The folks at central office will spend time with us to help us understand.  I want to take about student learning and project based learning,  I’ve had several opportunities to observe that at out schools.  New word isn’t STEM, it’s STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math.  I want to thank Michelle Gonzalez, a mother of a student at TJ, for inviting me to visit TJ.  I have information about STEM ambassadors.

Ms Bell – I want to mentions a couple of events that stood our for me.  I attended a collaborative chorale program last week that was well attended at Henderson.  I did attend the VSBA regional forum, and I think the program they presented.  I know this is one of Dr Otigabe’s loves.  I’d like to know what programs we have with NOVA community college.  PWC Community Expo is Saturday morning.  Come on h=out.  Next week is teacher appreciation week.  This school division would not exist without them.  So next week, thank a teacher.  Enterprise on this Saturday has their Make a Difference Walk.  Dr Walts, I had a conversation with a Stafford school board member and Learn and Serve came up.  They have it in every school, and I’d be interested in knowing how they fund their program.  We have AP classes at all of our schools.  We put together an AP Scholars program at Woodbridge and Patriot.  Can we have this program at all of our high schools?  Also want to thank all of our students who came out to speak tonight.

Ms Satterwhite – this is a busy time of year for all of us. April 20 I was at Catharpin for opening day.  Tyler has girls softball opening.  I want to thank Mr Cline and staff for building a bridge at the back of the property.  I wish our retirees the best of luck.  I attended Battlefield’s presentation on social media.  I encourage all parents to attend these presentations when they’re at their schools.  Saturday was the Alvey/ Gravely fun run. Over 700 people participated.  Today I was at GMU attending the achieving best practices in concussion management.  The conference was fabulous.  Dr Walts, for the past 2 years most of our middle schools have implemented block scheduling.  Can we have a presentation on that and where we are going with that?

Dr Otaigbe – Dr Walts mentioned the VA Lottery award for Christina Ross at OP.  It was a well kept secret.  The students were excited.  The $2000 cash and supplies made for a wonderful afternoon.  We had a wonderful afternoon.  Have to thank the Assistant Principal.  It was her initiative to apply for the award from the VA Lottery.  That’s a big lesson for students and all of us that sometimes we have to take risks.  Want to congratulate the Marshall elementary peer mediators.  I hope when you grow up you will part of peacekeeping or the UN so that the world will be a better place.  Want to thank the Principals for coming here tonight.  You wear many hats and prepare students for life and career.  We thank you for all your services.

Mr Trenum – thank for having me follow Dr Otiagbe.  Want to thank Mrs Miller for allowing me to join them in their SOE celebration.  It’s #8 for them.  Thank West Gate Elementary for allowing me to participate in their Arbor day celebration.  Got to walk through the new addition.  The addition is great. Want to thank fellow board members for supporting resolution on proffers.  Dr Walts, when we passed the budget we passed a plan for zero based budgeting.  Part of that should be developing a plan for reducing class sizes.

Chairman Johns – the PWC Community Expo will be this Saturday.  All are invited.  US Navy band will be playing at Gar-Field this Friday.  I’d like the thank the BOCS for their vote on the budget.  I’d like to thank students who cam out and spoke with us tonight about “Ashland Gives Back” and Marshall Elementary peer mediators and Stonewall MS students who mentioned their nature trip.  Congratulations to Henderson Elementary for SOE.  Attended VSBA’s meeting on new Superintendent’s evaluation process.  I guess the best observation I can make is that we’re not that far off from what the state will require.  I attended the retiree ceremony last week.  It is a bittersweet event.  It was a nice ceremony and extend our gratitude to all of our retirees.  Happy Birthday to my son.

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