Teachers receive surprise 4 percent raise

Teachers receive surprise 4 percent raise

Cafeteria debt tops last year

By Ruthann Carr, correspondent

Fluvanna County Public Schools staff can expect a 4 percent raise in their next paycheck.

Superintendent Chuck Winkler suggested the move to the School Board at Wednesday’s (June 12) meeting.

“We will use funds that have been allocated within the payroll lines to provide an additional 1 percent raise,” Winkler said in an email Thursday. “It will now equal approximately 4 percent total for fiscal year 2020 (FY20) contracts.”

In April the board voted to give staff a 3 percent raise.

Chair Perrie Johnson (Fork Union) and Winkler had an earlier discussion about the FY20 budget.

When building a budget the administration tries to put in a 1-3 percent cushion for contingencies such as decreased state and local funding, increased utility, health care, technology, instruction and transportation costs.

In a $41.8 million budget that cushion is between $420,000 and $1.2 million.

Winkler said Johnson suggested the board be “less conservative” and use part of that cushion for instruction at the beginning of the year rather than waiting to see if it’s left over.

The past several years the school budget ended in the black.

“The board elected to be less conservative and lean towards the 1-2 percent [cushion] side of things looking into FY20,” Winkler said. “Therefore, the funds for the newly adjusted raises [1 percent more] will come from the payroll lines within the various categories.”

Board members Brenda Pace (Palmyra) and Andrew Pullen (Columbia) were not at Wednesday’s meeting.

In other news, Food Services Supervisor Gwendolyn Jones asked the board to approve a 10-cent increase in school lunch costs, a 15-cent increase in breakfast and a 30-cent increase in adult meals. The Board approved it unanimously.

Shirley Stewart (Rivanna) asked how much the cafeteria fund was in debt for the year. Jones said $46,706.25.

Last year’s debt of $41,000 brought a public outcry.

In September the board decided on a multi-prong approach, including:

  • Prohibiting students from purchasing any extra items once the account has a balance of $0 or less;
  • Emailing notices to parents or guardians weekly if the account balance is $5 or less, when there is a valid email on file; and
  • When a household has reached a threshold of $250, legal collection procedures may be initiated. All other efforts to collect delinquent or bad debt will be handled by food services, administration and guidance working collaboratively.

Upon hearing of the more than $46,000 in debt this year, Stewart said, “So what we’re doing isn’t working.”

Winkler announced Standards of Learning tests are done and he expects Fluvanna schools to be fully accredited.

Instruction and Finance Director Brenda Gilliam reported on the staff survey. For the first time in six years, less than half the staff (49 percent) filled it out.

The survey has seven categories.

  • Work environment: 82-98 percent had a positive response;
  • Building administrative support: 91.84 percent felt supported and recognized, but the margin dropped to 64.1 percent regarding whether discipline is handled consistently, fairly and in a timely manner;
  • Professional development and training: 61.26 percent felt professional development days provide applicable strategies and useful tools for improvement;
  • Professional responsibilities: Opinions ranged from a low of 60 percent who felt there were enough instructional assistants and a high of 88.3 percent who felt additional duties were manageable;
  • Climate and culture: 89.96 percent felt satisfied working for FCPS, down from 93.26 percent in 2018;
  • Superintendent’s office: 94.74 percent were happy with being made aware of new job opportunities within the division in a timely manner; and
  • School Board: Scores dropped in all three categories polled, with the highest being 69.83 percent who felt the board supports them and their profession.

The board asked that survey comments be made public after names are redacted.

School honors retiring staff. From left: Central Elementary Assistant Principal Clinton Estes; School Board members Perrie Johnson, Charles Rittenhouse and Shirley Stewart; Nancy King; Nancy Hutcherson; Jane Ford; Superintendent Chuck Winkler; Dolores Palmer; Lisa Lucas and Feda Coleman. Photo by Ruthann Carr.

Several retiring staff members were honored: Susan Brown, Nancy Heins, Nancy Hutcherson, Cheryl Daidone, Doug Campbell, Feda Coleman, Delores Palmer, Judy Raviotta, Michelle Shinaberry, Lisa Lucas, Jane Ford and Clinton Estes. They represented close to 300 years of experience.

During public comments, Andrea Overweg took the board to task.

“I am here tonight because I care about our community, our schools, our children and our valued teachers and staff,” Overweg said. “I am here tonight because the board has continued in a deleterious trajectory. It is plainly evident to any attendee of a School Board meeting that this board is dysfunctional.”

Overweg cited a few examples of recent board conduct.

“With community members and teachers present for a School Board meeting, what message does it send when a School Board member objects to the acquisition of a textbook because it references ‘white privilege,’ which he asserts is recent terminology, when in fact it is a historical reality grounded in factual events?” she said. “What message does it send when a board member fundamentally does not comprehend how a budget operates or is allocated for a school system?”

Overweg talked about declining elementary school enrollment and linked it to parent dissatisfaction with policies and practice.

“People talk to each other and it’s more important than a Yelp review,” she said.

The board will hold its seminar July 30.

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