School Board wrestles with budget; seeks new superintendent

By Ruthann Carr

It’s budget time.

Just about every meeting from the first of the year until it’s finalized is filled with budget considerations: health care, staff pay, bonuses, spending priorities and district-wide needs.

This year the Fluvanna County School Board has an additional task: searching for a new superintendent. Current Superintendent Chuck Winkler will retire in June.

The Board would like to hire his replacement as soon as possible.

At Wednesday’s (Jan. 20) seminar, besides budget priorities, they discussed what they were looking for in the next superintendent.

Chair Perrie Johnson (Fork Union) said 550 people responded to a survey on superintendent qualifications.

Most who took the survey were parents (56 percent) followed by teachers (24 percent) with school employees and community members making up the rest.

Johnson said most wanted  to require teaching experience, a doctorate, and experience as an administrator.

Shirley Stewart (Rivanna) said at her school district in Vermont most people wanted the same experience. One applicant had a doctorate, but it was in finance and his only teaching experience was in college.

“He was hired and was very successful,” she said. “He stayed for 15 years.”

Johnson said the Board could make that decision once they get the applications.

James Kelley (Palmyra) said those who don’t meet the “required qualifications” could be put off from even applying.

“The onus is on us,” he said. “If we say it’s required it’s likely some people we may like to interview might not even apply. I’m sad to be losing Chuck, (but) I’m totally for casting a wide net for his replacement.”

Stewart said she just completed a training on unconscious bias that was enlightening.

“We all have them. We need to be aware of what we bring to the table,” Stewart said. “Maybe (we could) share those in our group so we can check ourselves and each other.”

The deadline for applying is Feb. 19.

The Board will conduct interviews between Feb. 26 – March 27.

Kelley said he was uncomfortable conducting in-person interviews unless all board members agree to remain masked throughout the interview.

“I would find it highly embarrassing to have in-person interviews with Board members who don’t wear masks,” he said. “I’d rather do the interviews virtually.  In-person interviews would expose the candidate to risk if the Board members don’t wear masks.”

Neither Andrew Pullen (Columbia) nor Charles Rittenhouse (Cunningham) wear masks while sitting at the table during in-person Board meetings.

Rittenhouse was not at Wednesday’s meeting.

Johnson said Pullen, who is a Spotsylvania firefighter, couldn’t be at the meeting because he was needed on that job.

“He said he would join us online if he was able,” she said.

It wasn’t clear if he did.

In response to Kelley’s concern, Johnson said she would talk to Pullen and Rittenhouse.

The final job posting will be made public Jan. 25, according the to the Virginia School Boards Association website.

As the Board discussed budget priorities, they again discussed a potential staff bonus this year and up to 2-percent raises for fiscal year 2022.

They are still considering a healthcare spousal exclusion that Brenda Gilliam said would save $600,000. With that savings, the Board would likely not have to add more to the health insurance budget line.

Winkler said he’s been asked how COVID-19 has affected the FCPS budget.

“(The) money from a federal standpoint has helped our system,” he said, citing the $1.2 million from the December stimulus bill. “Our plan is to use some of this money to help the academic, social/emotional needs of the students over the next two years. We’ll be seeing the impact (of the pandemic) over the next two or three years.”

When discussing possible future staffing needs over the next couple years, Winkler said hiring classroom teachers to reduce student/teacher ratios would have the best possible impact.

“I’d get class sizes lower before hiring a reading specialist,” Winkler said.

The pandemic meant FCPS needed fewer staff and as a result they’ve saved about $1 million in fiscal year 2021.

A “significant cost,” however, has been the requirement to offer paid leave to staff who were infected or had to be quarantined because of exposure to the virus.

The Board looked over possible changes to the teacher’s scale A and B and the cost of each.

The Board will meet again at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 3 for more budget discussions.

Winkler reported several staff members have gotten their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. He encouraged all staff to respond to the email from the Blue Ridge Health District and make an appointment to get the vaccine.

Gilliam said they are “instituting an incentive plan where staff get points for getting the first and second doses of the vaccine. They’ll then be entered into a drawing for $50 gift cards.”

Related Posts

dewi88 cuanslot dragon77 cuan138 enterslots rajacuan megahoki88 ajaib88 warung168 fit188 pusatwin pusatwin slot tambang88 mahkota88 slot99 emas138