School Board Report – September 4, 2013

School Board Report for September 4, 2013.

Please be advised the unless otherwise noted, comments are not verbatim.

The meeting began with all members present.

Consent Agenda

The following items were on the Consent Agenda and were approved unanimously by all members.

  1. Hispanic Heritage Observance Month –  designating “September 15 through October 15 as Hispanic Heritage Observance Month”
  2. National School Lunch Week – proclaiming “October 14-18, 2013 as School Lunch Week”
  3. MOU between PWC Police Dept. and PWCS – establishing “procedures and guidelines with respect to the expectations and description of duties performed by the School Resource Officer and school administrator, access to student education records, and the cooperative arrangement for coordination and utilization of services of the Police Department”
  4. School Lunch service for uniformed officers – providing complimentary lunches for police officers assigned to school sites
  5. Approval of June 2013 payroll
  6. Approval of July 2013 payroll
  7. Independent Hill Tower Lease
  8. MOU between PWC and PWCS for Comprehensive One Stop program
  9. NatureBridge agreements for field science programs
  10. Approval of meeting minutes from June 19 , 2013
  11. Approval of disciplinary hearing minutes from July 10, July 31, and August 14, 2013
  12. Confirmation of board pool conducted June 20, 2013

Citizen Comments

3 citizens signed up to address the school board.

Citizen #1 – a Junior at Battlefield discussed his experience learning piano at Battlefield and playing for students.  He discussed the correlation between music and math.

Citizen #2 – a parent discussed some of the issues that have carried over from 2013 – zero based budgeting, classroom sizes, test scores, teacher pay, land for school sites, boundaries, classroom funding, and the pool, She noted that 7 of those items can be traced to academic performance.  She encouraged the board to focus on those 7 and not on the pool.  She requested to see the numbers behind the claim that it will cost $15 million to reduce class sizes by one student in every school in every grade level in the county.

Citizen #3 – Jim Livingston, President of PWEA.  Jim welcomed us to a new school year.  He spoke to the future and the need for the school division to be financially vigilant in planning for the future.  He noted that we’ve balanced the school budget by increasing class sizes and reducing school based budgets.  He thanked Mrs Jessie for her observations about class sizes, where she stated that class sizes would need to be reduced by 5, at a minimum.  He thanks the Mr Keen for observing that the BOCS needs to stick to its promises about funding.  He asked “Why are our children worth less than the children in every other school division in the region?”

Regular Agenda

2014 Legislative Priorities

Keith Imon presented the school division’s recommendation for legislative priorities for the 2013 – 2014 school year.  You can find the proposal here.  Mr Imon noted that there would be no discussion of the items this week as there was a work session on the legislative priorities in 2 weeks time.

Chairman Johns suggested that school board members compile questions in advance and submit them to Mr Imon prior to the meeting so that answers can be prepared.

Ms Bell asked when the packets explaining the items would be available.  Mr Imon said they were available now to both the public and school board members.

Safe Schools Advisory Council Appointments

The following individuals were nominated to serve on the PWCS Safe Schools Advisory Council:  Jeanine Lawson – Brentsville District, Nkrumah Williams – Coles District, Karen Peak – Neabsco District and Indira Mendez – Woodbridge District.  Each individual will serve a two year term.

Mrs Covington – the council has staggered terms so the 4 districts not listed have members currently serving.

The school board unanimously approved all appointments to the Safe Schools Advisory Council.

Summer Contract Awards

There are no awards over $500,000 to vote for.

Mrs Satterwhite – we know there are no awards above $500,000.  Will we be getting a list of awards over $250,000?

Mr Cline – Yes.

No vote necessary as there are no awards.

Proposed Rezoning – Pioneer Assemblage, Blackburn, and Heritage Crossing

Pioneer Assemblage is a proposed housing development in Brentsville District off of Vint Hill Road.  The rezoning would change the land’s designation from agricultural to residential.  The proposed development would have 140 single-family homes and 325 townhouses.

Blackburn is a proposed housing development in Gainesville District approximately 2500 feet west of the Balls Ford Road/Sudley Road intersection.  The rezoning would change the land’s designation from agricultural to residential.  The proposed development would have 161 single-family homes and 260 townhouses.

Heritage Crossing is a proposed development in Coles District on Fairmont Avenue, north of Sudley Road.  The rezoning would change the land’s designation from General Business to residential. The proposed development would have 110 townhouses.

You can find the impact statement for Pioneer Assemblage here for Blackburn here.  and for Heritage Crossing here.  

Mr Trenum – I asked for these to be pulled from the Consent Agenda so that we could have a discussion.  Last spring we passed a resolution asking the BCOS to reevaluate proffer levels which have not been reevaluated since 2006.  The BOCS may not have gotten their individual copies of that request.  I wanted to illustrate this because these three represent another 993 units in the western end of the county, plus another 100 that aren’t in the system, so that gets us to 1100 new units.  I’ve heard from lots of people about the fact that Loudoun builds schools back to back and we don’t.  Loudoun’s school’s proffers are about 3 times our proffers, so they can afford to build schools that quickly.  Since development isn’t stopping, we need to reevaluate the proffers we receive from home builders to ensure that we’re receiving an appropriate amount.

Chairman Johns – I’ll add that I hope the BOCS gives this serious consideration.  We don’t need to kill development in PWC and we have had some successful cooperation with developers, like Wentworth Green.  But that site was open for several years before a single home was built.  There are other deals that have not been as good for the school system.  These developments do affect us in the school division, so reevaluating this is appropriate.

Mrs Covington – we know that we can’t stop growth, but the issue is ensuring that we have adequate funding to support that growth.  We need the funding to keep up with our schools to meet the increased needs that come with that development.

Mr Keen – On this issue, compared with Loudoun, our system is about 33% larger than Loudoun’s but our budget is smaller.  The difference isn’t just based on the proffers but also based on the allocation of tax receipts to the school system.  We need to communicate with the BOCS and encourage them to really consider their legacy 10 to 20 years down the road and whether they’re funding our schools and our community resources to the extent they need to be funded.

Dr Otiagbe – I have an observation.  The developers, in fairness to them, these agreements for these developments, the proffer agreements were signed a long time ago.  So when we’re talking to the BOCS we’re talking about future development.  Can we change that for these?

Mr Trenum – what we’re talking about if for future requests that come up, not these.

Dr Otiagbe – so all we can do here is try to apply moral pressure.

Mr Cline – it’s more the process by which the BOCS understands the impact the proffers have on schools and the increased demand for schools that new developments require.

Mrs Covington – What are proffers?

Mr Cline – proffers are there to offset the cost of services that arise as a result of development – like schools roads, parks and recreation, etc.  In theory they are paying the cost of providing the increased government services associated with the development.

Mrs Covington – so specifically for school purposes what are proffers?

Mr Cline – the set up addresses a dollar amount associated with building new schools to meet the demand needed for that development.

Mrs Covington – does the proffer vary based on value?

Ms Hammond – the amounts vary by type of dwelling – single family, town home, apartment, not value.

Mrs Satterwhite – one of the questions that I’ve had, could we strengthen our letter so that it’s stronger..”The school division is not in support of”.  If we could strengthen that a bit, I’d appreciate it.

Mr Cline – we’ve had discussions about this.  On the one had we’ve expressed opposition to the rezoning to any proposal where we are overcapacity.  On the other hand, there was feedback from the BOCS that if we don’t ask for proffers then we won’t get them.  Our intent was to balance this so that we expressed our disapproval of the proposed development, but that we’d take the proffers if the development was approved.

Mrs Jessie – does the decision on the amount of the proffer correlate with the formula used for projections?

Mr Cline – No.  Each type of unit has a different proffer amount.

Mr Trenum – can I modify my motion.  Can I put them all in one vote?

Chairman Johns – That would be a friendly Amendment.  Mrs Jessie, do you approve of the amendment?

Mrs Jessie – Yes, I do.

Mrs Satterwhite – I’m addressing the Blackburn Estate.  It will be along Balls Ford Road in the Coverstone area.  We just put additions onto these schools to address the growth and overcrowding in those areas.  Now we have this proposal to add this additional housing.  251 more students would be added for this development.  We’ve just done this but we already have trailers at Sudley and I’m concerned about the impact this development will have on those schools.  I hear that this proposal is a great proposal, but this proposal, with the student populations here is not a good fit.  I wanted to make sure I voiced my opinion on that.

Chairmn Johns – a vote for this means you do not support the development.

The school board unanimously approved preparing and sending a statement of impact on schools to the BOCS regarding these developments.

Board Comments

Mr Keen — Want to welcome folks back.  I was glad to meet with so many constituents and let them know how much I appreciate their feedback and comments.  I’ll be visiting some schools in my days off in the coming week.

Mrs Satterwhite – I was hoping someone could help me with this – is tag day this Saturday?  Yes.  This Saturday is tag day where Marching Band members will solicit funds from homeowners.  Please be as generous as you can be with them.  Concussion classes are going on this week.  I want to shout out to a Battlefield teacher, Mr Chis Lim was presented the Claus Nobel educators of distinction award.  Mr Lim was the only PWC teacher recognized this year.  Two additional teachers have been nominated for 2013.

Ms Bell – Welcome Back.  I have a few carryover questions from the June meeting – followup on zero based budgeting, proposal for reducing class sizes, policy regarding $500,00 limit, and thank you Mr Cline for providing us the lists of awards.  As we start the year I want to remind us all that every child can learn.  What we do is all about relationships.

Dr Otaigbe – I was fortunate to hear a wonderful story about Mala, a Pakistani native whio is 16 years old who was wounded and taken to England to be healed of the injuries she suffered.  She almost died because she was advocating for the education of girls.  She was the keynote speaker at the dedication of a Library in Birmingham.  I challenge our students to meet her example.  I challenge our students to read thousands of books in their lifetimes.

Mrs Covington – I also attended the summer school graduation for our students and the GED graduated. Dr Hinton-Jackson  is one of the most dynamic speakers I’ve ever heard.  She had everyone interested in what she had to say.  Dr Brown was equally dynamic in addressing our new teachers.  I neglected to thank Mr Livingston for all he does for us and for PWEA.  He is always professional and deserves our thanks.  Dr Walts – I do have a question, Are we teaching cursive to our students?

Dr Walts Yes

Mrs Covington – I’m glad we do and hoe we continue to.

Mr Trenum – now that you’ve confirmed that we’re still teaching cursive, can yo get my 8th grader to do it legibly?  Welcome back everyone.  Be careful on the roads.   I want to ask if we could get something on the schedule following up on zero based budgeting and for developing a plan for reducing class sizes.

Mrs Jessie – I want to congratulate the schools for having an excellent and safe opening.  I will be dropping by to welcome our students soon.  I want to thank parents for purchasing supplies and hope the bags weren’t bigger than our students.  On SOL testing I want to congratulate the county for meeting the new AMOs.  I must go on record to day that the new law is unacceptable.  It’s outrageous for the state to leave more than 70% of our students behind.  Any test that is designed where only 30% can pass, is a poor exam and difficult on our high expectations for our students.  We need more staff development for our teachers and need better design of our exams.  I attended numerous graduations this year, but the most impressive one was for our adult graduates and summer school graduates.  I want to thank Dr Lacey and her staff for the summer school certificates and the work they do with the summer school program.  Dr Walts you’re doing a great job.

Chairman Johns – Zero based budgeting will be in October and class rom reductions will be during the budget process.  As to the $500,000 I will put something on the agenda.  We all agreed about it but didn’t add it to the agenda.  Happy Rosh Hashanah to those who celebrate.  Tonight we’re going to party like its 5774.  Tuesday was my sons’s first day of high school.  He had a wonderful day.  This is Dr Walts 9th first day as Superintendent here.  Do you remember your first day?

Dr Walts – yes.

Chairman Johns – A certain school board member’s son did not get off the bus at his house that day.

Dr Walts – I only remember the good stuff.  I won’t mention the 1923 comments.

Mrs Covington – will you get off the age thing?

Meeting adjourned.

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