School Board Differs on 2019 Surplus

By Ruthann Carr 



After congratulating special education student achievements, School Board members disagreed about what to do with the Fiscal Year 2019 budget surplus.  

At the meeting Wednesday (Oct. 9) Superintendent Chuck Winkler said Fluvanna Public Schools are fully accredited for the sixth year in a row. Only 19 other schools in the Commonwealth share that achievement.  

Special Education instructor Nick Ward stood in front of the Board with students Peter Mance, Shantika Hawkins and Victoria Harris as they held up blankets they made.  

“The students love making the blankets – it’s great for teaching math, cutting, tying and job readiness skills,” Ward said. 

Both Hawkins and Mance have jobs: he works at MACCA and she works at Hudson Henry Granola.  

Fluvanna SPED students also play basketball in the Medford League. 

“It’s the best basketball you’ll ever see,” Ward said.  

They are adding a bowling league that will start later in the winter.  

Executive Director for Finance, Curriculum and Instruction Brenda Gilliam said FY2019 is complete pending one federal revenue of $9,119.  

She projects the FY2019 carryover will be $932,000.  

Winkler told the Board the agreement with the county is that money would be given back to the county.  

Winkler suggested asking the county Board of Supervisors to let the schools keep $460,000 of the carryover to buy two new buses and to equip all buses that are less than five-years-old with air conditioning.  

“We’ll have half our fleet air conditioned. Those buses would be assigned to the longer routes with the youngest students,” Winkler said.  

Shirley Stewart (Rivanna) made a motion to vote on the carryover question on the night’s action agenda. Brenda Pace (Palmyra) seconded the motion.  

During discussion on the motion, Chair Perrie Johnson (Fork Union) said she wanted to give the entire amount back to the Board of Supervisors.  

Johnson said after last year’s budget presentation to the county, one of the supervisors privately expressed concern about School Board transparency. In light of that, Johnson suggested returning the whole carryover would help rebuild a “good relationship” with the Board of Supervisors.  

Johnson also had reservations about voting on such an important issue with one member, Andrew Pullen (Columbia), not present. 

Charles Rittenhouse (Cunningham) agreed they should wait for the whole board to vote.   

Pace said kids can get sick on buses that are too hot.
“We can ask (the county) but that doesn’t mean we’ll get it. I think the quicker we can do it, the better,” Pace said. 

The Board voted 2-2 to add the vote to the night’s agenda. Because it was a tie, the matter will be put on the next meeting’s agenda. Stewart and Pace voted for; Johnson and Rittenhouse against. 

During public comments Jessica Jackson, a teacher at West Central Primary, said she was concerned about a statement made at last month’s meeting on Measures of Academic Progress assessments.  

“What bothered me was the comment that the MAP test is a ‘strong predictor of future academic success,’” Jackson said. “I’m concerned that students and parents may think if they don’t do well on the test, they won’t do well in school.” 

Jackson said she remembered that after her young daughter took the MAP test in grade school, she was placed in a different reading group – a lower one.  

It bothered her daughter.  

However, Jackson said in high school her daughter was always in advanced classes.  

So in her case, it was not predictive. You need some research to back up that statement.” 

High School Principal Margo Bruce said soon all high school students will have ID badges they must carry with them at all times.  

Bruce said if the student forgot it at home, they would have to wear a temporary name badge for the day.   

If they weren’t wearing it because they lost it, they can get made with software supplied to the school by Lifetouch. 

“If the student refuses to wear a badge – and there has only been one or two who didn’t want their picture taken for the badge and we had a discussion with them – it would be considered a minor infraction,” Bruce said. 

A Blue Ridge Virtual Governor’s School student Jason Deck is interning with the technology department. 

Winkler said the intern suggested an alternate use for about 20 computers that will be declared “surplus.” 

If they “e-waste” the computers, the school would recoup about $170.  

Deck said he’d like to re-use them by giving them to The Light Academy, a private Christian school in Fluvanna.  

“They don’t have access to technology like we do,” he said. 

Fluvanna Public Schools would retain the hardware. After scrubbing the computer, Deck would refurbish them with the help of some Light Academy students. The Light Academy will pay a small fee for each computer.  

The Board voted unanimously to back the intern’s plan.  

On Oct. 31 the School Board will have a seminar to focus on 2021 budget priorities.  

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