School Board Report for February 5, 2014

School Board Report for February 4, 2014

Please be advised that 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 February 5,2014 as “Digital Learning Day”
  2. Designating March 2014 as National Professional Social Work Month
  3. Designating March as “National Women’s History Month”
  4. Designating March 3–7, 2014, as “Newspaper in Education Week”
  5. Designating February 16—22, 2014, as “School Board Clerk Appreciation Week”
  6. Approving tuition rates for Practical Nursing program in Adult Education
  7. Approving a MOU between PWCS and Shenandoah University to continue partnership relating to the Teachers for Tomorrow Program for the 2014-15 school year
  8. Approving a MOU between PWCS and Va Tech to obtain nutrition education curriculum resources for PWCS students
  9. Approving the 2014 summer school program
  10. Approving documents necessary for easements associated with construction of the 12th high school
  11. Approving the Dec 2013 payroll
  12. Approving minutes from the Jan 8, 2014 school board meeting

Citizen Comments

8 citizens addressed the board

Citizen #1 is the President of the Prince William Federation of Teachers.  He noted that the school division has no where left to economize and that if the school division can afford to build a pool and fund programs in that pool, then they can afford to fully fund teachers and classrooms.

Citizen #2 is a Potomac High School student who thanked the Guidance Counselors at Potomac

Citizen #’s 3 & 4 are students at Bull Run Middle School who thanks the Guidance Counselors at BRMS and their elementary school.

Citizen #5 spoke about the budget, consistent inadequate funding of school by the BOCS, and failure of school board members to stand up for education.  Said PWCS has lowest test scores in the region and largest class sizes in the region.  PWC is one of the wealthiest counties in the country, but our teachers are among the lowest compensated.  Said 5 school board members need to come together and stand up to the bullies on the school board and BOCS and demand full funding for our schools.

Citizen #6 is Jim Livingston, the President of PWEA.  He thanks delta sigma theta for their sponsorship of the MLK oratorical contest, recognized Jessie Shanks as the athletic trainer of the year, and spoke about visiting our representatives in Richmond to argue in favor of competitive compensation and increased funding for education.

Citizen #7 is a citizen who spoke about student achievement and the high quality education his children received in PWCS.  He said he’s concerned that with increased class sizes, PWCS students won’t be able to compete.

Citizen #8 is a citizen who spoke about the inadequate pre-K programs in PWCS.  He said the Virginia Preschool Initiative is a program that could benefit our most vulnerable students.

Public Hearing on Boundaries for Haymarket Drive Elementary School and Nokesville K – 8.

No one spoke at these public hearings

Regular Agenda

Proposed Language Arts textbooks (info only)

Staff presented the language arts textbooks the adoption committee is recommending.  Vote from the committee was not unanimous, but was close.  At the elementary level the teams from kindergarten – 5th grade liked the recommended textbook, while the 5th grade team liked a different book but had the recommended textbook in 2nd place.  At the middle school level, the teams from 6th and 8th grades liked the recommended textbook while the 7th grade team preferred a different textbook, though the recommended textbook came in a close 2nd.  At the high school level, one group preferred a different textbook while the others preferred to recommended textbook.

Questions:

    • Chairman Johns asked about textbook in general.. He asked is every student has a textbook.
    • Superintendent Walts responded that a textbook will be provided to any student or parent who requests it.

Haymarket Drive Elementary School

    • Vote was 8 Yes to approve proposed plan

Nokesville K – 8

    • Vote was 8 Yes to approve proposed plan

Briefing on Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR)

PWC’s external audit presented the results of the school division’s external audit.  PWCS received an unqualified opinion.

Questions:

Chairman Johns:  asked about GASB 68 and the numbers that will be repented as a result of it.  {GASB 68 changes the way pensions are accounted for and reported in public entities financial statements}

      • Answer from John Wallingford:  estimates that the disclosures will be around $1 billion.  Noted that there won’t be a financial impact to PWCS of this statement as the percentage PWCS pays for VRS is set by the VRS board and can not be increased or decreased.

Dr Otiagbe asked about the fact that PWCS is considered a high risk audit and finding on depreciation.

      • Answer PWCS is part of the PWC Government.  PWC had a reportable condition with some of the federal money they received a few years ago and that has placed all of PWC, including PWCS as high risk audits.  Requires the auditor to examine a greater percentage of grants received from the federal government.  Depreciation finding is related to the new software purchased to calculate depreciation.

2nd Quarter Budget Update

PWCS projects that it will have $30.8 million more than expected at the end of the school year.  They would like to allocate $27.8 million of that excess to the repairs and renovations budget for the FY 2015 school year (see here).

Questions:

  • Chairman Johns asked about the $27.8 million carry forward
    • Answer was that the money will be used to pay for repairs and renewals at a long list of schools that are not paid for through debt.  If school board decides to use any of this money for school operations next year, you’ll have to scale back or postpone those renewals and renovations.
  • Dr Otiagbe asked about the Virginia Pre-school Initiative and the Washington Post articles.
  • Chairman Johns said that he didn’t think this was the place for that discussion and would prefer a more in depth discussion with staff at a later time.
  • Mrs Jessie also asked for a more detailed discussion of the VPI issue.
  • Mr Cline said they could have the discussion about the VPI during the budget discussions as it has budgetary implications.

Sale of VSPA bonds (info only – vote will be at next meeting)

Staff Proposed sale of $89,233,500 in VSPA Bonds as follows:

    • Devlin Rd School, construction – $28,587,000
    • Featherstone ES addition – $5,931,000
    • Ferlazzo ES – $2,000,000
    • 12th High School, construction – $49,971,500
    • Rippon MS addition – $300,000
    • Bus Maintenance Facility – $$1,444,000
    • Kilby ES replacement – $1,000,000

Questions:

  • Mr Trenum asked about the difference between the awarded construction costs of the Devlin Rd school and the value of the bonds being issued.
    • Mr Cline responded that the difference is because the school is more than just the construction costs and that he’d provide school board members with the accounting of the costs of the school.
  • Mrs Jessie asked about the $1 million for the Kilby replacement.
    • Mr Cline responded that the money is needed to begin Architecture and Engineering studies for the project.

Briefing on FY 2015 Proposed Budget

Staff presented the proposed FY 2015 budget.  Highlights include:

  • No significant reductions in programs or layoffs of staff
  • Class sizes will be brought down by 1 student in 6th grade in Math, Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies
  • Provides 1% salary increase for faculty and staff
  • Cost of school lunches will increase 5 cents due to federal regulations and the Healthy Kids program
  • Health benefits costs are expected to increase 4%

As with tradition, no questions were asked at this time so that school board members and the public could absorb the proposal.

Weather Related Schedule Changes

Superintendent Walts announced that he will request that March 31 be changed from attacher work day to a regular instructional day to make up for lost time due to weather conditions.  The request will be made at the next board meeting.

Changed to Policy 810 on Facilities Planning

Changes to Policy 810 were proposed in December and are up for approval now.  These changes requires PWCS to obtain the approval of the school board for all new facility construction projects before cumulative costs in excess of $500,000 are made on the facility.  The school board must approve, by separate vote: specialty programs proposed for the school and any construction modifications required for that specialty program, any significant space changes or modifications from the prototype design or appearance of the building, and all athletic fields and accommodations for sports programs.

Gil Trenum proposed a modification to this change.  He asked that the cost threshold be lowered to $250,000 in accordance with the new spending approval thresholds approved for the Superintendent in December and asked that a line be added requiring school board approval of any non-instructional items included in a project’s design, like LEED certification.

Questions / Discussion:

  • Chairman Johns indicated that he liked Mr Trenum’s proposed changes and that he didn’t think they’d affect project planning.
  • Mrs Jessie asked for clarification of the change.  She questioned if the change would be reducing the Superintendent’s authority from $500,000 to $250,000 and if a study had been conducted by staff into the effect of the proposed changes to policy 810.
  • Chairman Johns noted that the Superintendent’s authority had been reduced to $250,000 in December.
  • Superintendent Walts said that no study had been conducted and that he assessed that there could be a significant impact.
  • Mr Trenum asked staff to comment on what they felt the impacts might be.
  • Superintendent Walts said they’d be happy to provide that impact, but they’d been focused on the budget and hadn’t considered it and would need time to conduct the study.
  • Dr Otiagbe suggested that the vote be delayed unit the next meeting so that staff could complete their analysis
  • Mrs Williams said she supported the change, but felt that delaying the vote until the next meeting would be acceptable to give staff time to  complete their analysis.
  • Mrs Covington asked about changes that occur in the summer and if they’d be taking these votes via poll.
  • Chairman Johns said that in the 10 he’s been on the board he’s never been presented with changes like this policy mentions occur in the summer.  He reminded board members that the issue has been pending since December, so no one should be surprised or unprepared for it.
  • Mrs Jessie said she was uncomfortable taking a vote on the modification proposed by Mr Trenum as the Superintendent wasn’t aware of the modification.  She indicated that she believed the vote should be deferred.
  • Mrs Satterwhite notes that the changes proposed by Mr Trenum weren’t substantial, that the $250,000 threshold was already approved in December.  She noted that she had no problem with the changes, that they would provide increased transparency of the construction planning process, and that she believed many of the votes would  be on the consent agenda.  She also suggested that the policy changes could be revisited if they become too cumbersome for staff.
  • Mrs Bell indicated that she was fine with the changes and noted that the $250,000 was cumulative, not fixed and not per change.
  • Mrs Covington said she though the Superintendnt was aware of the modification proposed by Mr Trenum.  She asked Dr Walts if he wanted a delay.
  • Dr Walts refrained from answering.
  • Dr Otiagbe said he felt the issue was good partnership.  One of the agreements they have is no surprises.  He said that Mr Trenum’s changes were surprises to staff and noted that he’d vote no if he had to vote tonight.
  • Mr Trenum apologized for the miscommunication. He noted that he’d sent his proposed modifications to the Superintendent’s staff in January and assumed he’d been briefed on them.  He said he considers the changes he proposed inconsequential.
  • Superintendent Walts noted that he wants to ensure that staff aren’t blamed for delays resulting from the change.
  • Mrs Jessie said she agreed with Dr Otiagbe and could not vote for the modification proposed by Mr Trenum.. She said she doesn’t like surprises and is impressed with the amount of information they get from staff.
  • Chairman Johns asked Mr Trenum if he would consider withdrawing his modifications.
  • Mr Trenum agreed to withdraw his modifications, noting that they could be reconsidered at a later date if necessary.

The Vote was 8 Yes in favor of the original proposed change.

Briefing on adding Policy 756 on Physical Inspections and Testing of Students (info only)

Staff noted that on review of policies and regulations, they discovered that regulation 756-1 didn’t have a policy that accompanied it.  The regulations covered vision, hearing, and gross motor skills testing of students.

Common Core Presentation

Staff provided a briefing on the content standards called for in the Common Core State Standards Initiative.  Vote on sending a letter to the Governor expressing the PWC School Board’s opinion on the CCSS in Virginia was delayed unit the next meeting.

Restoration of Funding for the 5 Year Plan

Mrs Covington presented a resolution to be sent to the BOCS asking them to restore funding to PWCS to the promised 5 year plan.  She asked the school board members to support her in the resolution.

Vote was 8 Yes in favor of the Resolution

Board Comments

  • Mr Trenum asked that staff provide an update on Zero Based Budgeting.
  • Superintendent Walts said that 2 school board members still have to meet with staff to discuss their hopes and expectations for zero based budgeting.
  • Chairman Johns noted that the issue has been pending for some time and added that school board members needed to schedule their meetings ASAP or they would be considered to have no opinion on the issue.
  • Chairman Johns addressed the Virginia Pre-School Initiative.  He said he’d sent a response to the Post about their editorial, but that the letter had not been published.  He challenged the Post’s editorial board to come with half of the $3.6 million needed to fully implement the VPI and said he’s personally find the other half.
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