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School Board budget gets $467K increase

The King George Board of Supervisors last week, on Jan. 18, approved a budget amendment requested by the School Board that increases its budget by $466,870 in additional federal funds.
Supervisors provided their approval with the proviso that the additional funds would not supplant budgeted expenditures within the existing School Board budget.  

A spending plan distributed at the meeting contains the names of some current employees, some who have been employed in the division for years, including the Special Education department chairmen at both the middle and high school.
Supervisors were reluctant to grant the budget increase without assurances that the money would not be used to pay for positions or services already in the current School Board budget.
They received those assurances from county Director of Finance/Deputy County Administrator Donita Harper, with Superintendent Candace Brown nodding her head in agreement from the audience.  
Vice Chairman Joe Grzeika, who was presiding, noted by way of background, “This came before us a while back. We asked for some more information. We asked what the regulations were and we got that in hard copy. And we asked what the money was going to be used for. And tonight all we have right now is an attached budget showing what categories they would go in.”
In fact, the hard copy of regulations supplied by the division totaled 133 pages. None of it specified how the funds would actually be spent in the division.

ABOVE & BEYOND APPROVED BUDGET?
Harper responded from the podium, saying, “There’s a sheet before you that breaks down the actual expenditures based on each grant by amount.”
Grzeika noted, “We didn’t have that when we got together to set the agenda.”
Harper stated, “No. This became available, I believe, when we were out on vacation. Dr. Brown sent it on Friday. Today I got hold of it. I’m sorry — not on vacation — I mean holiday. Today is the first day we’ve seen it.”
Grzeika clarified, looking to Brown, saying, “Now these grants are primarily used for the Special Ed program, if I read the literature correctly that we were provided. And this is above and beyond what you had in your programs.”
Harper answered the question, stating, “That is correct. This is in addition to; correct.” She added, “I’d like to add these grants will be tracked in a separate fund, Fund 252. So now we have separated all grant funds from their operating budget so that will be a lot easier to see.”
Grzeika said, “That’s important not only for us, but for the schools. They’ve some fairly rigorous requirements with this money.”
It was recently discovered that the School Board has been found to be in violation of federal regulations for provision of special education services to eligible students with disabilities.
It has until Feb. 3 to submit a corrective action plan to the Virginia Department of Education to address changes to be made in eight areas where the division is out of compliance. Corrective action must take place by Dec. 29, 2011, or the division could be on track to lose federal funding.
Supervisors wanted to ensure the new funding would be used to provide additional services that are needed in the division.
 “I would want to see that these funds are devoted to services above and beyond what was in the approved budget, and that is what I’m hearing, Donita,” Supervisor Dale Sisson said. “You are verifying that is the case. That this is not covering services and functions that were already in the budget.”
Harper responded, “Yes, that is what I have been told. Everything is in addition to.”
Sisson asked, “And we can track these and verify it?”
Harper said, “We can find a way. We can work together. We can work together to do that.”
Supervisor John LoBuglio asked about the timeframe allowed for use of the additional funding.
Harper said, “These are two-year funds. Any remaining funds can be carried over into the next year.” The motion to approve the budget amendment passed unanimously.

BROWN’S SPENDING PLAN INCLUDES EXISTING POSITIONS
It’s not clear whether it is accurate to claim that the additional federal funds of almost half a million dollars will go to provide positions and services not already in the original School Board budget.
The one-page spending plan that Harper said she got from Brown that was distributed at the meeting contained five groupings.
The first one was a list headed, “Teachers Salaries paid with Title VI B Grant – 665” which totaled $248,051.49, more than half the grant funds
That grouping listed the names of seven teachers and three paraprofessionals (instructional aides) and their schools.
The Journal asked Brown by e-mail to provide a line item cost breakdown of the document. Brown responded, saying, “The dollar amounts on this document were created by D. Harper.  I will forward to you what I sent to her.”
That attached list from Brown was an Excel spreadsheet containing no dollar figures, as Brown had stated.
But it contained the first and last names of current employees, some of whom have been employed in the division for years, including the Special Education department chairman at the middle school, who is listed with at least three others in the 2007-08 division personnel directory.
Below is that listing in the first grouping.
Teachers Salaries paid with Title VI B Grant – 665: KGHS Vann Brock, Teacher LD; KGHS Michael Carmel, Self Contained;    KGHS    Shana Curtis, Teacher LD; KGHS Peggy Dungan, Teacher LD; KGHS Leslie Fulton, Teacher LD; KGMS Shelby Latney, Teacher LD; KGHS Will Martin, Teacher LD; SES Gina Mason, Para DD/LD; KGES Sharon Poulakowski, Para MD one on one; KGES Deborah Wilson, Para Autism.
The other three groupings from Brown’s supplied document are listed as Purchased Services paid with Title VI B Grant – 665, Purchased Services paid with Title I LEA Grant – 425, Purchased Services paid with Title I School Improvement Grant – 424.
The above headings are followed by lists containing teachers, tutors, educational service providers, and other purchased services.
The document distributed by Harper at the meeting has an additional grouping not included on Brown’s document, called, “Miscellaneous Expenses paid with Title VI B Grant – 665” for $11,791.86.

DOCUMENTS & MEETING TAPE POSTED ONLINE
The version received from Brown without cost figures and the version distributed at the meeting by Harper containing cost figures are both available for viewing here.

Phyllis Cook
Staff Reporter 

 

 

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