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School Board looking at adding $2,6 mil to budget request

Brown’s budget request predicated on same amount of local funding as current year

The King George School Board this week heard numerous requests from member Lynn Pardee to increase its budget request to the county by over $2.6M.
No decision has yet been made to send that request up to the Board of Supervisors.
That guidance is expected when the School Board will continue its discussion of a 2010-11 budget proposal this afternoon (January 28) at another budget session prior to its regular meeting tonight.
The School Board appeared to be split on whether to include those additional costs in its budget request, with Pardee pushing hard for them, along with Payne Kilbourn.
It is clear that there will be major cuts in state revenue based on the Governor’s proposed budget.  The General Assembly could end up making those cuts deeper.  
Pardee is saying that the county should pick up the slack, and then some.  She stated, “We need to make sure we are giving them (our students) absolutely everything they need. We don’t hope the supervisors are going to educate our children.  We expect them to and we continue to put pressure on them until they spend the money they need to on our children.”
Pardee added, “And if they aren’t able to do that and not able to look deep enough into the future to see how important this is, then we need some changes in King George.”
The additions requested by Pardee include 2 percent raises across the board for all school employees estimated at $686K, retaining most items that had been deleted by Brown and added new programs, including a foreign language program at the elementary level.
At the previous budget work session on last Wednesday, January 21, Kilbourn gave a long statement at the end of that meeting to provide his position on county funding for the School Board.  
Kilbourn stated last week, “King George County is different.  And we shouldn’t rush to prejudge or to deliver a budget that doesn’t meet the needs that we think we should be meeting and the quality education that we should provide.  The state is clearly projecting a budget deficit next year.  They are in deficit this year.”
He added, “But around us counties are in deficit or close to deficit and are projecting deficits next year.  We are projecting some minor revenue reductions in King George this year, but we still have a general fund surplus that is about $15M over the 15 percent of revenues that’s the county policy.  Clearly, it’s not a good year for a tax increase locally, although that is a topic for another day when you look at our local tax rates and the fact that they have been subsidized by landfill revenues for 10 years.  But we have ways to weather this storm with a budget surplus that is unique, very unique.  So I think it’s important that we not rush to putting together a bare bones budget, but we look at needs-based.  And with this significant budget reserve we have, it may even be a good couple years to make some advances on our neighbors in terms of salaries and salary scales and so forth.  We have that opportunity.”  
Chairperson Sherrie Allwine and Dennis Paulsen responded to Pardee’s requested increases, saying they were not in favor of the additions.  
Renee Parker was undecided, appearing to agree with points made by each faction.
Paulsen said, “Ms. Pardee, I find that list to be admirable and things we truly need to give our children a good education.  But in the current times, I find those requests to be fiscally irresponsible.”
Paulsen had talked up “pay for play” for sports participation at the previous week’s meeting, but it was not brought up this week.  
Pardee stated, “I am not asking them to raise taxes, I am asking them to dip into their rainy day fund.”
Parker said, “I don’t care if they raise taxes or not.”
Allwine said, “Everybody knows this is a tough budget year throughout the state, and we can use these additional needs, but I can’t put it through when they have asked for level funding.”
Parker said, “Until we send it and see what they do, we don’t know.”
Allwine also said, “I don’t want to lose positions.  And I’d rather preserve positions than have class sizes that are unmanageable for the teachers. And if it takes a salary freeze for a year to do that, then I think that’s where we need to go at this point.”
Pardee’s request to add $2.6M to the School Board’s budget request for 2010-11 followed a report from Director of Personnel Bill Wishard who provided an overview of procedures for a possible “reduction in force” (RIF), should that become necessary.  
The School Board could find itself in that situation if the General Assembly ends up making further cuts to the Governor’s proposal for education funding and/or if the Board of Supervisors does not provide the same level of local funding next year as they have in the current year.  
The county had informed Superintendent Candace Brown and all county department heads to not ask for budget increases.  
Brown’s proposed request conforms to the Governor’s budget proposal for $1.4M less state revenue than in the current year.
But it is predicated on the county Board of Supervisors making no such reduction in revenue from the county.
The state is currently saying the required local effort from King George could be reduced by about $1.5M over the current year’s funding from the county.  
Brown’s recommendation contains no salary increases, but does contain four new positions for two special education teachers and two special education paraprofessionals (aides).  
But at the same time it also eliminates one position for a CTE/KGHS guidance counselor vacancy that will not be filled.  
Brown noted that behind-the-wheel driver education has been added back in, saying that fees would cover the costs.
Brown also said that the Head Start program will be cut, which would have required $96K funding in the coming year.
There is no guarantee that the county will be in a position to fund the School Board at its current level given lower revenues and the likelihood of the current economic slowdown continue for the next year.
King George, like the rest of the localities in the region and most across the state, is experiencing reduced revenues and decreasing its own budget for the current year.
The Board of Supervisors have their first budget work sessions set for mid-February.
Wishard also told the School Board that the vast majority of those at the meeting from school divisions across the state said they would not be giving salary increases.
“Almost everybody in the room raised their hands.”
He also related that a majority of division reps also said they were contemplating cuts in salary and cuts in benefits.
~ NUMBERS    Brown’s proposed request for 2009-10 would add up to $33,667,370, compared to the current year’s $35,191,245.  
It would include state revenue of $19,828,433 and local revenue of $12,373,371, the same amount as in the current year.  
That compares to $10,844,644 that would be the “Required local effort” amount from the county under the Standards of Quality in state law.
The remainder of the revenue would be $1,215,566 from federal sources and $250,000 from “other” sources.
If the School Board adds in the items requested by Pardee, it would need an additional $2.6M from the county.

Phyllis Cook



 

School Board gets Brown’s proposed budget request

Brown’s budget request predicated on same amount of local funding as current year

The King George School Board last week received a binder of Superintendent Candace Brown’s proposed request and heard highlights of her budget recommendation at a meeting on January 14.  
Brown’s recommended budget request conforms to the Governor’s budget proposal for $1.4M less state revenue than in the current year.
But it is predicated on the county Board of Supervisors making no such reduction in revenue from the county.
The state is currently saying the required local effort from King George could be reduced by about $1.5M over the current year’s funding from the county.  
There is no guarantee that the county will be in a position to fund the School Board at its current level given lower revenues and the likelihood of the current economic slowdown continuing for the next year.
King George, like the rest of the localities in the region and most across the state, is experiencing reduced revenues and decreasing its own budget for the current year.
Supervisors are likewise contemplating cuts in next year’s budget, which is expected to be a difficult funding year.  
~ RAISES? The School Board should have some tough decisions in making decisions on its budget request for 2009-10.  
But it didn’t take them long to instead call for possible additions to increase the proposed request.
Brown told the School Board her proposed budget contained no salary increases.  
School Board member Lynn Pardee asked her to provide costs for pay increases of 1 percent up to 5 percent.  
School Board member Dennis Paulsen also asked to see the cost of providing step increases for all employees.  All the division’s salary scales have 2 percent increases between steps.
~ POSSIBLE CUTS?    Pardee also called for Brown to supply cost comparisons that would result in savings if benefits were eliminated for part-time employees.  That’s an idea that has been discussed with no decisions attempted.
Chairperson Sherrie Allwine said that if that were to take place she would urge grandfathering current part-time employees with benefits.
School Board member Payne Kilbourn asked for the division’s cost of benefits for retirees.  
Brown said that retirees are allowed to stay on the division’s health insurance at their own expense, except that retirees are provided a benefit of $240 per year toward their health insurance costs.
Brown said she made no cuts in athletics or other programs, adding, “I tried to maintain the instructional program as far as supplies and materials, and to maintain the required work that has to be done, and tried very hard to maintain all of our employees.”
Pardee also suggested an upcoming discussion include pay-to-play for sports as touched on during talks last year.
~OTHER HIGHLIGHTS Brown told them her proposed request for 2009-10 contains no salary increases, but does contain four new positions for two special education teachers and two special education paraprofessionals (aides).  
But at the same time it also eliminates one position for a CTE/KGHS guidance counselor vacancy that will not be filled.  
Brown noted that behind-the-wheel driver education has been added back in, saying that fees would cover the costs.
Brown also said that the Head Start program will be cut, which would have required $96K funding in the coming year.
~ STATE REVENUE    In his state of the Commonwealth address earlier this month, Governor Tim Kaine spoke of the need for belt tightening in all areas of state funding, including K-12 education.  
“Instead of across-the-board cuts, I’ve proposed targeted, performance-based cuts,” Kaine said.  Regarding education cuts, he added, “As with other parts of the budget, I carefully considered our priorities in education, and thought long and hard about how to make cuts in a way that protected the most important functions of our schools.”
Kaine said he decided, “that nothing in our schools was as important to the students as their teachers and principals, and so I have made a proposal that protects our core priority—the classroom.”
Kaine’s budget proposal is to reduce funding for administrative and support personnel in schools and central offices by applying a state funding cap for those positions.
Kaine stated, “I know that administrative positions are important, but with no cap, they have grown much more rapidly than spending on teachers.”
While Brown noted that the state funding cuts targeted support personnel, she did not tell the School Board that administrators were part of the target.  Instead, she said Kaine was targeting guidance, social workers, nurses, psychologists, and clerical personnel.  
But Kaine is not including school nurses in his funding caps for support positions.  
In the attachment to a December 17, 2008 memo to all division Superintendents, a summary of the Governor’s budget proposal states, “The funding cap is not applied to the following support positions:  division superintendent, school board members, school nurses, or pupil transportation positions.”
~ NUMBERS    Brown’s proposed request for 2009-10 would add up to $33,667,370, compared to the current year’s $35,191,245.  
It would include state revenue of $19,828,433 and local revenue of $12,373,371 as in the current year.  
That compares to $10,844,644 that would be the “Required local effort” amount from the county under the Standards of Quality in state law.
The remainder of the revenue would be $1,215,566 from federal sources and $250,000 from “other” sources.

Phyllis Cook, Staff Reporter



 

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 www.journalpress.typepad.com. 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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