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School Board hears from KGEA on ‘09-10 budget request

Salary still a priority

The School Board heard an annual presentation on budget request priorities from the King George Education Association (KGEA) prior to the Christmas break, at a meeting on December 15.  
All requests from the KGEA have a cost associated with them.  
The School Board is expected to have some tough decisions when it begins its budget deliberations scheduled in mid January.  
Superintendent Candace Brown is scheduled to present her recommended budget request to the School Board at a meeting on January 14.
Under the Governor’s proposed budget for 2009-10, state revenue for King George schools is estimated to be about $680K less than in the current fiscal year, with an estimated 138 more students expected to be enrolled.
The state is likewise estimating a lower required local effort from the county.  That is estimated to add up to over $1 million less for the King George School Board from county taxpayers.  
KGEA co-presidents Urzetta Lewis and Kathy Heil, both teachers at King George Middle School (KGMS), gave a presentation and provided handouts indicating the top requests from teachers and other employees according to a recent survey conducted by the organization.  
Heil said their organization’s survey had netted responses from about 200 school employees.
o    HIGHER PAY STILL TOP PRIORITY     The survey primarily consisted of several multiple choice questions with four answers from which respondents could select.
The questions centered on salary, health insurance, retirement benefits, paid sick and personal leave and work issues.
Survey results indicate that employees’ major concerns continue to focus on salary issues, including a desire to have teacher pay increased to match the area average, at a minimum.
A total of 91 percent of responses (183 people) said they wanted raises.  
That was broken down with 36 percent (73 responses) saying they wanted an across-the-board percentage increase for all employees.  
Another 15 percent (30 responses) said they wanted an across-the-board equal dollar increase for all employees.
An additional 40 percent (80 people) said they wanted an increase to first ensure that teacher salaries remain equal to or lead the market average in our region, then to fund increases for employees on the graded pay plan.
The remaining 8 percent of respondents (17 people) said they would be satisfied to forgo a salary increase if money were instead used to offset their health insurance premiums.
o    LOWER ELEMENTARY CLASS SIZES    The KGEA also asked the School Board to reevaluate its class size policy, which is strictly based on the state’s Standards of Quality in the Code of Virginia set by the General Assembly in coordination with the state Board of Education.
The KGEA requested a significant decrease in pupil/teacher ratios to lower the division average from a maximum of 24 students, down to 20 students in Kindergarten through 3rd grade classes, with no individual class larger than 24 students, versus 29 students for Kindergarten and 30 for the other primary grades, as recommended under the SOQs.
Similarly, for 4th through 6th grades, it asked for a decrease in pupil/teacher ratios to lower the division average from a maximum of 25 students to a maximum of 21 students.  
Given the current student enrollment as indicated by the latest publicly-released enrollment report, at the county’s three elementary schools, that non-monetary request from the KGEA would add at least 10 more teachers, estimated at $500K for salary and benefits.
The KGEA also addressed class sizes at the secondary level.
For all English, social studies, math and science classes in 6th through 12th grades, the KGEA also asked for a maximum average of 21 students, with a maximum average of 25 in all other classes.   
The current School Board policy cited by the KGEA is policy IHB.  That policy indicates a lower average class size of 21 students in middle and high schools.  
It states, “In addition, the King George County School Board shall assign instructional personnel in a manner that produces school wide ratios of students in average daily membership to full-time equivalent teaching positions of 21 to one in middle schools and high schools.”
o    OTHER ISSUES    The KGEA also asked for a change in Staff Leave Benefits Policy   GCBD-R to raise the per diem pay rate and also address proposed changes to sick leave, personal leave and leave without pay.  
They also suggested that professional development requirements be relaxed, with more opportunities for non-technology classes be provided by the division within the county.
The KGEA also asked for scheduling changes that would secure a 7.5 hour day for employees at all schools.  
In addition, they requested that professional development and common planning time be scheduled on a regular basis, such as a half-day each month.
o     BUDGET MEETINGS SCHEDULED    The School Board is expected to begin its budget deliberations at a meeting scheduled for January 14.  
At that time, Superintendent Brown is expected to present her budget recommendations to the School Board.
Budget work session meetings are scheduled to be held by the School Board on January 21, 26 & 28 at 4:00 p.m., location to be determined.  
A public hearing on the School Board’s proposed budget request is scheduled on February 4 at 6:00 p.m., location to be determined.  The School Board is expected to vote on a budget request to forward to the county at a meeting on February 11, location to be determined.

By Phyllis Cook, Staff Reporter


Kilbourn’s committees report to King George School Board

Effort designed to overcome the local press instead details numerous administrative shortcomings

The King George School Board heard from four ad hoc advisory committees last week and will hear from the remaining four this week.
School Board member Payne Kilbourn had introduced his idea to establish a slew of committees last June when he was disappointed with the adoption of the current year’s funding for the School Board budget, which was established by the Board of Supervisors this past spring.
Kilbourn’s purpose for the ad hoc committees was to evaluate the performance of the division in various areas and provide an analysis on whether more funding is needed.  
The committees were part of Kilbourn’s plan to overcome the local press, originally outlined at a meeting on June 11.     
In June, Kilbourn said his committee idea was part of his plan to combat what he described as the School Board’s failure at “convincing the community and the Board of Supervisors that more funding is required.”
Kilbourn personally advocated for a 35-percent increase in the county’s real estate tax rate during county deliberations the previous year.  The increase would have gone exclusively to the School Board to enable increased expenditures.
An email to the county invited Board of Supervisors to attend, but schedule conflicts kept them from attending.  
School Board Chairman Dennis Paulsen was also absent, with Lynn Pardee missing the beginning of the meeting and Renee Parker leaving early.  
COMMITTEE REPORTS    Kilbourn’s main thrust for the committees was to diminish the influence of reports in the local press critical of the School Board’s last huge budget request that asked for 25 percent more local funding from the county.
The reports indicated that some of the committees took a comprehensive and very thorough approach, while others were more cursory in the examinations of their assigned areas.
But, taken as a whole, the conclusions from the first of four committees provided a measured evaluation.  
The slides and summaries from the committee reports presented on December 3 can be found online at our website Here’s a quick snapshot from last week’s School Board meeting:  
~ Business Operations and Finances – Committee members Kathy Clark, Scott Buckles and John Rinko told the School Board that this is not the year to expect substantial budget increases.  Instead, they said this is the year to develop priorities, review processes and establish effective lines of communication.
They stressed the need for the School Board to prioritize its funding needs.  They also noted a need for the division to work with the county administration earlier in budget process and to find ways to increase productivity without requiring additional funds, including.
~ Operations of the School Board – The committee was tasked to review and evaluate the performance of the school board, including its programs, policies, work schedule and organization.  
Committee members June Drake and Alison Daughtridge said they eliminated the committee’s task having to do with a review of the School Board’s compliance with policy and statutory requirements.
Instead, they reviewed minutes of meetings and some position descriptions, along with providing results of an emailed survey with responses from 27 people, which they accurately described as “Not statistically significant sample.”  
Nonetheless, that survey led them to recommend, in part, that more communication be provided with parents, students, teachers, the Board of Supervisors and the press. Click Here to find the report. It can be downloaded as a pdf or viewed as a movie.

~ Buildings, Equipment and Transportation – This committee’s executive summary by members Cathy Binder and Scott Such stated, “The single biggest problem the committee identified was a gross lack of long term planning and budgeting.”
They praised Supervisor of Facilities Don Hall and Supervisor of Transportation Ray Newton, saying, “both individuals are exercising due diligence with their responsibilities and are obtaining the best services possible for the students and taxpayers of King George County with the resources provided to them.”
But the report went on to cite shortcomings by unnamed others, saying, “Examples of deficiencies in communication, maintenance, repair, renovation, operation, new construction and the budgeting process are too numerous to identify in a two page report or twenty minute presentation.”  Click Here to find the executive summary. You also read the full report.

~ Student Support Services – Committee members Stephanie Hornbaker, Jim Moreland and Lorie James were tasked to review and evaluate student guidance, health and social services.  Their report concluded, in part, that guidance programs should be standardized across elementary schools, with an increase needed in programs on bullying, anger management and motivational activities, and that medical equipment and supplies need upgrading.  Also, an increased emphasis should be placed on vocational planning at the high school. Click Here to find the reports.

Four more committees will be heard from this week on Wednesday, December 9, beginning at 4:00 p.m. following our publication.

By Phyllis Cook, Staff Reporter

School Board poised to make decision on Commonwealth Governor’s School

The King George School Board got discouraging news regarding help with costs for establishing a site for a Commonwealth Governor’s School at the new King George High School beginning in September 2009.  
Dr. Dave Baker, Director of the Commonwealth Governor’s School (CGS), told the School Board that CGS would not be able to assist with start-up costs and that two of the three area school divisions had decided not to pursue sending tuition students to the proposed King George CGS site.  
Whether to establish a CGS site in King George is another decision the School has been unable to make for several years, with the idea in the talking stages for the last decade.
Superintendent Candace Brown said she would provide new cost estimates for starting up the program for only 9th graders at the next School Board meeting on December 10.      
If it goes forward, the site would be in a new replacement high school which is under construction next door to the existing King George High School on Route 3.  
The new high school is currently planned for opening at the end of January, when the entire student body and faculty at the existing high school is expected to be shifted into the new school.
The current high school building will be closed down for the remainder of the school year.
If the School Board decides to establish a Commonwealth Governor’s School site in King George, it is currently slated to start up in fall 2009-10.
At its last meeting on November 12, the School Board heard from Baker, who told them his previous offer to the division of financial assistance with start-up costs would likely have to be withdrawn.  
“I think that everyone is aware that the state is experiencing serious problems with its budget and that divisions will be facing cuts,” Baker said.  
He added, “I don’t know about my CGS budget, either.  There is a chance that CGS may not be able to provide the financial assistance that we thought.”
Baker said he had told Brown in October that with state funding expected to be cut, he would be hard-pressed to pursue providing some of the CGS funding to King George.  
Baker told the School Board, “You would be shouldering the complete financial burden and you don’t know what your funding will look like.”
Baker added, “That doesn’t take into account what will happen with your local funding.”  
But Baker also had more bad news.  
He told the School Board, “There have been several new developments since we last met.”
Baker last provided the School Board with cost information at a meeting on July 9.
Regarding that previous discussion, Baker told them, “I shared with you that we needed as much advance notice as possible.  Now I am a little concerned.  Caroline and Colonial Beach have both indicated they are very interested, but are no longer able to make a budgetary commitment for next year.”
Baker said that Westmoreland was still interested and was planning on sending 2-4 students.
Baker said, “I would love to see the program here, but wanted the board to see what it is up against.”
The news was discouraging to all but School Board member Payne Kilbourn, who said, “This economy is going to turn around.  This is not 1929.”
He added, “I don’t know that we need to be this pessimistic about it, I think it is still achievable and do-able.  Let’s keep planning because this is going to turn around.”
Brown said she would bring start-up costs for beginning with only one grade level at the next meeting on December 10.  
~ KGHS STUDENTS CURRENTLY AT STAFFORD    Currently, there are five slots for each grade level for students in King George to travel to Stafford High School to participate in the Commonwealth Governor’s School half-day program.
The Commonwealth Governor’s School provides classes in the four core academic classes (English, Math, Social Studies and Science), which are designed to motivate academically talented students.  
o     START UP COSTS    Start up costs were previously provided to the School Board at a meeting in April.  The program involves video-teleconferencing with CGS other sites, which adds to the cost.
Equipment to outfit one broadcast room was estimated to cost $72,100.  Costs to equip a computer area were estimated at $20,000 for 15 laptops and a wireless access point.
Each additional instructional classroom would need equipment estimated at $2,500, not counting desks and chairs, and standard classroom furniture and equipment.  
o     ANNUAL OPERATING COSTS FOR 9-12th GRADES    Baker has previously told the School Board that it would cost about $330K to provide the program to students in grades 9-12, with 30 students in each class, on an annual basis.  
The model provided by Baker included 20 students from King George at each grade level, with an additional 10 students total from the three out-of-county divisions.
Baker’s estimate included $310,200 for salary and benefits for five teachers on 11-month salaries along with nearly $20K for textbooks, instructional supplies and copying costs.
Baker had said those operating costs could be offset by tuition payments, if the School Board decides to allow students from outside the county.  
If $4,000 were charged per student, it could offset costs up to $160K per year if 10 students per grade were allowed from out-of-county schools.
But with Caroline and Colonial Beach unable to commit for the coming year, that would leave only 2-4 students from Westmoreland to possibly participating if King George establishes a site.
But a decision must be made soon.  The School Board was previously informed that if students from those counties are to be included, it would also require approval from the state. 

By Phyllis Cook, Staff Reporter







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