School Board Report – October 16, 2013

School Board Report for October 16, 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. Designating November 18 – 22, 2013 as American Education Week
  2. Designating November 20, 2013 as Education Support Professionals Day
  3. Designating November 17 – 23, 2013 as National Geography Awareness Week
  4. Designating October 22 – 26, 2013 as National Teen Safety Week
  5. Designating November 11 – 15, 2013 as Virginia Farm to School Week
  6. Awarding Fannon Petroleum a contract to provide heating oil to Brentsville HS, Patriot HS, Henderson ES, Montclair ES, and Mountain View ES.  Amount of the contract is unknown at this time as cost per unit and number of units needed will depend on weather.
  7. Approving resolution electing not to participate in VLDP.
  8. Approval of meeting minutes from October 2 , 2013

Citizen Comments

Eight Citizens addressed the school board

Citizen numbers 1 & 2 – Two students spoke about mentoring and robotics and STEM in our schools.

Citizen number 3 – PWCS graduate and former teacher spoke about the school division intent to eliminate the Creative Writing program when the Center for Fine and Performing Arts moves from Woodbridge High School to the 12th High School in 2016.  Speaker believes the program is unique  and should not be canceled.   He noted that enrollment in the program has been consistent with minimal costs as special facilities and equipment aren’t needed to support the program.

Citizen number 4 – Jim Livingston, President of PWEA.  Jim congratulated the school board and thanked them for the joint meeting held with the BOCS last week.  Jim noted that reducing class sizes is an important first step the county must take.  He noted that in addition to reducing class sizes, teacher compensation needs to be increased and additional professional development opportunities need to be provided to teachers.  He announced that PWEA is the first local organization nationwide in launching the Great Public Schools Network.  The network is a place where all stakeholders can meet to collaborate and improve student learning.

Citizen number 5 – a former student from the CFPA’s creative writing program.  She delivered a petition signed by over 1,000 people asking that the Creative Writing program be continued.

Citizen number 6 – addressed the school board in support of continuing the CFPA’s Creative Writing program.

Citizen number 7 – one of the creators of the CFPA’s Creative Writing program addressed the school board in support of continuing the CFPA’s Creative Writing program.  Since many of the clarifications she wanted to provide about the Creative Writing program had already been made by other speakers, she asked for permission to bring her students forward to address the board in her place.  Her request was denied.  She supports moving the Creative Writing program to the 12th high school so that all students in the county have access to the program.

Citizen number 8 – President of PW Federation of Teachers.  Congratulated and thanked the school board for meeting with the BOCS and reaching an agreement about fulling funding our schools.  Offered his members to collaborate with the school division on school safety.

Regular Agenda

Strategic Plan Report

Mr Healey provided a report on the school division’s performance as stipulated in the Strategic Plan.  You can find the report here.

Questions / Comments from School Board Members:

Mrs Jessie – I want to congratulate the system for the performance, especially the on time graduation rate.  I want to congratulate the system on the third grade reading rate and advanced performance by 5th graders, 8th graders exceeded the goal in world languages.  I also noted less than 10 code of behavior issues.,  I want to congratulate Mr Cline for reducing the number of trailers in our county and the number of board certified teachers.  I was impressed with the 9% turnover and with the satisfaction rate for OSMAP.  In terms of the federal AMOs, my concern continues to be that the standards are extremely low, especially for the Gap groups, I do think that it’s important that as a county we establish a smart goal for our teaches and Principals where we say that these standards do not reflect our expectations.  I would ask the Superintendent and the board to consider the fact that when you change the standards and tests so that test scores drop because it’s more rigorous, you need to look at staff development component and work reduction.

Superintendent Walts – just to clarify, Mrs Jessie.  I want to reiterate to the general public that when Virginia received the waiver and the plans for pass rates, at that time I made it clear that we would not be going backward in any area.  Since we are higher than the state, our starting point was where we are and not what the state expects.

Dr Otaigbe – Congratulations to the school division on an exceptional report card.  I see lots of A’s on this report card, very few Needs Improvement.  When we talk about full accrediting, there was some talk on social media that we mislead the public when we say all schools are accredited since some schools have conditional accrediting.  Could you explain that please?

Mr Healey – Yes,  All of our schools are accredited.  95% of them are fully accredited.  We have 1 schools that provisionally accredited based on graduation rates.  That rate has to be met by 2015.  That school is on target to meet that goal by 2015.  We ahve three schools that are provisionally acredited based on math scores.

Dr Otaigbe – Middle school – what can we do to improve things?

Mr Healey – I think we show improvement.  The fact that those rates have gone up are positives.  The nature of the teenager is challenging.  The fact that we see the results in their improvement on the division wide survey speaks to our teachers and our students maturity.  I see that as a positive.

Dr Otaigbe – When you talked about the parent satisfaction survey – do you have a breakdown in terms of levels.

Mr Healey – Yes. We do have that and will provide it to you in a few days.

Dr Otaigbe – I’m not sure if this is the place to talk about technology in all of this, our neighbor to the north – Fairfax- has promised iPads to all students.  I don’t want us to be left behind

Chairman Johns – we need Fairfax’s budget

Mr Healey – I think that’s a larger issue.  I’m trying to think of how that connects to this strategic plan report.  We have someone who works on cusp of using technology in instruction.  I don’t think we’er at the issuing iPads to students point yet.  I know that the technology side of the school division is about incorporating technology in our classrooms where it is appropriate.

Superintendent Walts – I’d also like to mention that budgeting is a big issue.  We’re trying to get a team of money on the CIP for technology.  We did receive a large grant through special ed and put about 2000 iPads in the hands of special ed students.  We also have the bring your own device initiative, so we’re making good progress,

Mrs Covington – Mr Healy – you make the decision about the iPads.  I will repeat what I said at the meeting the other night.  We’re constantly talkgin about class size.  We’re always talking about how we need to improve.  When we hear these wonderful reports, all of this is because of our teachers.  They get the credit.  The rubber htis the road in the classrooms.  This report shows what outstanding teachers we have.

Mr Healey – I want to clarify about the state AMOs.  (1) there is in the waiver a provision about no backsliding.  So, that provision says you have to improve from your baseline.  (2) the individual plans that schools crate don’t reflect AMOs, they reflect the division strategic plan goals.  Their focus is just like your’s.

Mr Trenum – Thank you for the presentation and not going through all 70+ slides.  I would ask that the school division consider comparing PWCS to the Virginia component of the WABE when data are presented about performance.  We and our kids don’t compete against the state, we compete against the rest of Northern Virginia.

Superintendent Walts – just to clarify – one slide 5 where we have identified, is that all of them?

Dr Cassada – No, it’s the Northern Virginia counties only.

Superintendent Waltz – the WABE also has some Maryland counties.  Would you like all of them?

Mr Trenum – I think we need the data for the Northern Virginia counties for comparison.

Mrs Jessie – What I’m talking about is whether we have an established goal that is not the AMOs.  Our teachers are doing a great job.  This change in rigor is going to require us to provide more staff development and support.  We need to be aware that when I look this disparity that has nothing to do with the county, parents are very concerned with the targets for these groups.

Dr Cassada – two points – the state had different trajectories for the different groups.  Now the pass rates converge after 5 years.  The AMO is the state target or the pass rate last year, whichever is higher.

Mrs Bell – Mr Healy thank you for talking with me earlier in the week.  I know you’ll be giving us access to the data.  I’d like to read the parent and teacher comments.  Thankyou for forwarding that to us.  Mr Healy I was concerned about the AMOs as Ms Jessie is. I look forward to future meetings to go over these and our graduation rates and how they compare with other schools in our area.  We used to be one of the lowest with graduation rates.  What have we done to improve those raes.

Superintendent Walts – I will encourage your continued conversations with Mr Healey to determine what we’ve put in place.  It was recently announced that of the 50 largest school divisions in the nation, we rank 7th from the top in on time graduation rates.

Mrs Healy – thank you also Dr Cassada.

Mr Keen – speaking of the graduation rates – all of these are averages across the county, but each school is different. It seems to me that we can get the biggest bang for our buck by focusing on our lowest performing schools.  Central office is doing a great job of tracking our kids down when they move to different schools.  Seems to me that we should have some central office function searching for those children, with the assistance of the schools as needed.  I’m also concerned about the additional trailers at Vaughan.  If we can meet our goals, we may need to accelerating some of our CIP projects, especially the replacement of Kilby.  We need to be able to respond more quickly to new housing developments.

Zero Based Budgeting

School division proposed adopting the Superintendent’s recommendation to hire an external contractor to provide the zero based budget review.

Proposal was approved with 6 yes’s, 1 no from Dr Otaigbe, and 1 abstain from Mrs Jessie.

Questions / Comments

Mr Trenum – I want to thank Mr Cline and Dr Walts for moving forward with this.  I’ve been tryign to get this for several years now.  One of the reasons I approved the budget last year wass because of this.  We need to give better visibility to the board and public so that we knwo what’s being spent on what.

Mrs Covington – I want clarification on what we’re voting on now.  Are we voting on zero based budgetingn or Dr Walts getting a plan

Superintendent Walts – you are voting on PWCS hiring an external contractor to conduct the zero based budget review for approximately $250,000.

Mrs Covington – so an outside firm will come to us with recommendations>?

Superintendent Walts – Yes.

Chairman Johns – page 14 has a detailed layout.

Superintendent Walts – we would use the RFP process and once the contract was signed they conduct their studies, gather data, conduct examination, and then present their recommendations.

Mrs Covington – when will we get the study back?

Superintendent Walts – that would depend on the urgency with which I was charged.  We are prepared to start this immediately.

Mrs Covington – will this be for next year’s budget?

Superintendent Walts – That will depend on if we can find a firm to do this in enough time.  From a practical standpoint, it may be a year from this season before we have all of that information.

Chairman Johns – I think the answer to the original question is that what we are not saying is that our budget will be zero based.  We are voting to have a contractor to come in and do a zero based budget analysis and provide us with recommendations.  The expected deliverable will be recommendations on where we can find efficiencies.

Mrs Bell – can we clarify – is this an analysis of the whole division or just a section?

Superintendent Walts – it would be primarily the central offices.  You’d still need to understand site based budgeting.

Mrs Satterwhite – to clarify – we are not voting to accept a zero based budget.  When will we vote to accept a zero based budget?

Chairman Johns – that would be my understanding.  We could have the report coincide with our process.  I don’t think the review will be done for this budget cycle, but I expect we’ll have recommendations by the end of our budget cycle.

Mrs Saterwhite – In light of the conversations we have with the BOCS, I think we need to have some form of a zero based budget to show what we need.  If we coudl expedite so that we have something for this budget cycle, we should so that we can show our good fiscal stewardship.

Mrs Jessie – one of my questions is the money.  Is the 250,000 an estimate, could it be more or less?

Superintendent Walts – we’ll do an RFP and see who can do what on what schedule and will make a decision from there.  Expediting costs money.  One of the things we’d do next is a timeline from Mr Cline and his staff.  This is a compehensive analysis an is very time consuming.

Mr Keen – I think this is a great step in the right direction.  Corey made the direct hit on this at that meeting when he asked if any BOCS members believed class sizes could be reduced through efficiencies.  I think we may be adopting something like the BOCS does where they look at individual functions on a set schedule.

Dr Otaigbe – my question is what is the difference between an efficiency study and this?

Mr Cline – it’s probably more how we approach the subject.  With zero based budgets we’re going from the bottom up. the efficiency study looked at each central office and compared them to other school divisions across the state.  The end result may not be that different.

Dr Otaigbe – what would it cost us if we called back the efficiency review folks.  Would it cost $250,000?

Mr Cline – that would be my guess.  That company may choose to bid on this.

Superintendent Walts – this is more than an efficiency review – it’s and analysis of the budget process.

Chairman Johns – I think what important……

Dr. Otaigbe – Thank you for letting me finish my thought.  I have to go back to what I’ve said before.  The probelm we have isn’t an allocaiton proble, – it’s that we don’t have enough funds.  We’re looking to spend 250000 for a study to tell us that we don’t have enough resources to satisfy our needs.  It woulds wonderful, but at the end of the day, what are we achieving.

Chairman Johns – I recommend with going forward – we are authorizing Dr Walts to proceed to contract this service.  It may be in our best intrests for the school board to review the RFP so that what we want accomplished is accomplished.

Superintendent Walts – I agree.  We will build into that timeline obtaining the consent of the school board for the statement of work.

Mrs Bell – is there a difference between using the cooperative contract and going out with the RFP.

Superintendent Walts – we’ll need to explore that.  When we did this before it was a state legislated process.  There may be a state contract we can tag onto to get a better rate.

Chairman Johns – I’m going to support his because I think it will give us a baseline and an outside set of eyes to review our budget.  I do want to point out that I support this, but that’s not to say that I believe our budget isn’t transparent.  We had 400 questions submitted to our staff by the budget committees.  We have an 8 hours presentation on the final budget markup.  There is a line by line budget available to the public.  If we have line items we want to start cutting, we can do that.  I don’t know what we’ll gain from this, however, I have seen zero based budgets be very effective.  You gotta have 5 votes to cut any line item.  I will vote for this, I’m eager to see the statement of work and report.  I hope it is value added to the school division.

2013 – 2014 School Year Enrollment Report

PWCS presented the enrollment report for the 2013 – 2014 school year.  You can find the report here.

Questions:

Mr Trenum – Thank you for the presentation.  So the bulk of the difference was in the kindergarten cohort.  What are your expectations going forward/  Dop we expect teh incoming kindergarten classes to be smaller?

Answer Yes.  We have adjusted that in our forecast and modeling.

Mr Trenum – regarding the overall attendance figures.  With regards to the middle school and high school attendance figures, could we get those filled in as far as the upcoming classes are? So if I’ve got the MS numbers for next year and the years thereafter so that we can see what we’ll be looking in coming years?

Answer – Yes.

Dr Otiagbe – Thank you for your presentation. You mentioned the decline in the kindergarten students and how that will affect future students.  What about economic growth?

Answer – The forecasts indicate continued economic growth in the area.  Our unemployment rates are about half of the national average.

Mrs Covington – just a sid remark that the classes spiked in 2019.  With the furlough, there could be a spike with this furlough.

Mrs Bell – I’d like the transfer numbers.  I’d also like with Mr Trenum’s request, what are the base school numbers before and after transfers as well?  If you caoul clarify, how do we determine capacity?  For the K – 8 school  we have the breakout of the MS students?

Answer – Yes.  We have a 6th grade class at NES because they chose to stay there in advance of the move to the K – 8 next year.

Answer – We are reporting that in the MS category just like we do at Pennington and Porter.

Mr Trenum – you mentioned you are incorporating the economic pool into the modeling. Are we tweaking the mddl?

Answer – It’s the same model, but we’re using different student generation factors.

Mrs Satterwhite – With a total of 85,000 students, to only have a difference of 1% from projections, I’m impressed.

Chairman Johns – You did a wonderful jobs.

Intent to Reimburse

This items was moved from the last meeting.  This will authorize the school division to begin spending money for the western bus depot and transportation center.

Approved – 6 yes, 2 no from Mrs Satterwhite and Mrs Bell.

Revision to Policy 451.01 Sale of Food in Schools

Approved – 8 yes

Revisions to Policy 456, School Lunch Program – Federal and State Regulations

Approved – 8 yes

Revisions to Policy 521, “Instructional Staff Contracts.”

Approved – 8 yes

Board Comments

Mrs Jessie – As I indicated during Mr Healey’s presentation,.  I want to thank the board for meeting with the BCOS and looking at teacher concerns.  I want our teachers to know that we support them and think they are doing a phenomenal job.

Mr Trenum – I’ve been to a number of back to school nights. They are almost done.  I would ask that we could move them up a bit next year.  October for elementary schools is a bit late.  I like that we have a number of different formats for back to school nights.  They were all very good.  I do want to address one thing – when we talked about zero based budgeting, part of our conversation was to implement zero based budgeting techniques in the school division, not just have another report and another debate.

Mrs Covington – since our last meeting I attended several back to school nights.  So many of them overlapped because the elementary schools have to hold 2 or 3 nights. So I have to commend the teachers and Principals for going to those for so many evenings.  I want to compliment the Forest Park High School program reconditioning computers.   Dr Walts I’m glad you mentioned the grant for the person who will be helping military children transition into our school system.  I’d like to be briefed on that grant.

Dr Walts – I appreciate you cutting me slack for not briefing you on that grant.  I’ll make sure you are briefed on it.

Dr Otiagbe – I’d like to wish everyone Happy Cyber-Security Awareness month.  The US Dept of Homeland security celebrates this event every year.  I’d like to see if we can join this national celebration. It’s an awareness thing and is used to make sure that people know the need to keeping our technology assets secure.  If you open the web site PWCS.edu you will be grated with a wonderful message “Prepare to change to world with Science at the Governor’s school”  I’m calling on middle school students to attend the informational session on November 2.  This program is wonderful – students can get dual enrollment credit and collaborate with college level professors.  I urge parents who have children who love science to consider attending this information session.

Mrs Bell – I want to thank the students who spoke about mentoring our middle school students. I want to thank senior staff – we ask lots of questions and I appreciate the help you give me.  I want to thank Mr hart for hearing the safe schools advisory committee – my appointee said the meeting was phenomenal.  I know all of our students are in school and have their dreams, but so do parents.  Just want parents to know that we have an adult GED and ESOL program.  Please visit the webs site.

Mrs Satterwhite – I hope you can take advantage of the touch base at our high schools.  The event at Battlefield was fabulous.  Everyone was thrilled at how it went.  I attended the BHS homecoming.  My hat is off to Stonewall for a really good game.  October 21 is the deadline to volunteer for the Haymarket Elementary School boundary committee.

Mr Keen – recognizing teachers who have done an outstanding job is one of the best thing s we can do.  So is welcoming new teachers to our division, and I’d like to welcome the new teachers in my district.  I’d also like to mention the Virginia Start program that Betty mentioned.  Before our next meeting Virginia will be holding elections.  I encourage people to vote.  Democracy does work, so please get out and vote.

Chairman Johns – election is November 5th.  Throughout our nations history many men and women have given their lives to protect our rights.  We owe it to them to get out and vote.  Want to thank the folks who came out and spoke about the Creative Writing program.  I’m interested in seeing what we can do to keep the program in some form at the CFPA when it moves to the 12th high school.

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3 Responses to “School Board Report – October 16, 2013”

  1. Ed Says:

    “This change in rigor is going to require us to provide more staff development and support.”
    Which change in rigor are they talking about?

  2. John S Gray CPA Says:

    $250,000 to a consultant to advise the School Board on the options to use or not use zero-based budgeting? That’s kind of perverse irony isn’t it? Lets spend a quarter of a million dollars to see if we can budget and spend taxpayer dollars more efficiently? That’s the plan? Wow…..

  3. PWC School Board Sets An Example For Our Supervisors To Follow | Virginia Virtucon Says:

    […] County school board who voted to study moving to a zero-based budget process (h/t The Derecho and PWC Education Reform Blog.) Chairman Milt Johns and Board members Lisa Bell, Betty Covington, Steve Keen, Alyson Satterwhite, […]


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