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Schools may get $1M more

Friday, January 4, 2013

From Bulletin staff reports

Henry County Schools would receive an overall increase of $1,023,625 in fiscal 2014 under the governor’s proposed amendments to the current biennial budget.

Dawn Lawson, the school division’s chief financial officer, discussed the budget outlook during the Henry County School Board meeting Thursday.

Gov. Bob McDonnell’s budget released on Dec. 17 indicates an increase from $44,858,196 in fiscal 2013 to $45,881,821, an overall increase of $1,023,625, for the county school division.

It includes $448,996 for 2 percent pay increase for all funded Standards of Quality (SOQ) positions.

According to the Office of Governor’s website, the 2 percent raise is contingent on passage of the Educator Fairness Act, which would extend the probationary window for teachers from three to five years, provide for a definition of incompetence to include one or more unsatisfactory performance evaluations, and define the relationship between the evaluation and the contract. It also would streamline the grievance procedure and allow for an expedited decision to inform the teacher of the final outcome.

SOQ positions include teachers, guidance counselors, librarians, instructional aides, principals and assistant principals. Participation in the raises is optional but requires a local match to receive the state funding, according to the Officer of the Governor.

Subtracting the 2 percent raise from the total increase, the actual increase in state funds to the county schools is $574,629, mainly due to increased enrollment.

Other points Lawson made about the budget included:

• Sequestration — put off for now by the fiscal cliff legislation approved this week — would mean cuts in federal funding, but Lawson is hopeful that will not occur.

• Officials should know the rate for fiscal 2014 health insurance premiums by late January.

• Utility costs are continuing to increase, and fuel costs are unstable.

• Economic recovery is slow with ongoing lags in the state and local economies and revenues.

• Local funding level continues to be challenged due to the economic situation.

• All federal stimulus funding has expired.

• The school division continues to research and implement cost-saving measures in energy use, consumption of resources and other areas.

Some dates on the upcoming budget development calendar include: Jan. 10 — public hearing on budget priorities and budget work session at 6 p.m. in the School Board Meeting Room, County Administration Building’s third floor; Feb. 7 — regular monthly meeting and budget work session (regular session will begin at 9 a.m. followed by closed session) in the Summerlin Meeting Room on the first floor of the County Administration Building; Feb. 26 — joint budget work session with the Henry County Board of Supervisors at 5 p.m. in the fourth-floor conference room, County Administration Building.

In other business Thursday, the school board received a mid-year review of the school division’s strategic plan implementation, including what has been accomplished so far this year and what is in progress for the rest of the school year.

The plan, enVISION 2018, includes strategies dealing with high-quality instruction, high-quality professionals, safe and orderly schools, innovative and cutting-edge technology, effective and efficient resource management, and family and community engagement.

High-quality instruction

Accomplishments in 2012 include: implementing READ 180 at the elementary school level and upgraded the middle and high school programs, and holding collaborative work sessions by grade level and subject area. Also, committees were appointed to develop guidelines for the senior project, revised graduation requirements, digital portfolios and the career readiness certificates.

In progress are planning professional development for math teachers on performance-based assessment and inquiry-based learning; evaluating ReadiStep program through the College Board for college and career readiness; and planning for curriculum development, which will be a major focus in the upcoming year.

High-quality professionals

Accomplishments in 2012: developed a division-wide interview process toolbox for administrators, such as suggested interview questions; appointed a recruitment team; and updated all recruitment materials to include more information about the community and the expectations for new teachers.

In progress: restructuring the mentorship program for new teachers; developing a professional development plan for new teachers; and planning to conduct a staff survey to determine professional development needs that include communication, collaboration, creativity, innovation, and critical thinking skills.

Safe and orderly schools

Accomplishments in 2012: identified and implemented the Division Strategic Safety Team, Personnel Safety Team and Student Safety Team; implemented routine safety audits throughout division; and completed second year practicing crisis drills with community partners, Henry County Sheriff’s Office and Henry County Public Safety.

In progress: planning to implement table-top drills with community partners during the second semester; scheduling classroom visits with school resource officers; and working collaboratively with Henry County Personnel to update the crisis plan for the administration building and satellite locations.

Innovative and cutting-edge technology

Accomplishments in 2012:

• Implemented a high-speed fiber network and Internet upgrade for all buildings.

• Added iPads and carts in K-2 and grades 6-12; added mobile device manager for iPads; and upgraded middle and high schools laptops.

• Upgraded five elementary schools and all secondary schools with media on-demand servers.

In progress: upgrading LAN (switches, access points and wiring) for both high schools to implement “bring your own device” (BYOD); replacing elementary teacher laptops; and implementing district server for media on-demand to support digital portfolios for students and online collaboration for teachers. According to online information, BYOD policies allow students to bring to school and use in class such things as smart phones, iPads and laplop computers.

Effective and efficient resource management

Accomplishments in 2012: upgraded lighting in some schools with energy efficient lights and/or fixtures; provided training in the area of energy conservation in all schools; monitored idle time and fuel use on buses for efficiency; using Google docs, SMARTBoards and iPads in classrooms; and holding meetings through video conference to reduce paper consumption.

In progress: conducting a feasibility study of facilities showing opportunities for mechanical upgrades resulting in future energy savings (ex. upgrading lighting, HVAC, water, etc.); continuing to provide training for staff and students in energy conservation and behavioral changes to reduce consumption; and researching and developing ways to incorporate available technological devices to reduce paper consumption.

Family and community engagement

Accomplishments in 2012: designated a person to oversee parent and community outreach; identified a key communicator in each school to assist with promoting school events and accomplishments; and conducted a protocol with the Superintendent’s Parent Advisory Council to assess current and future outreach efforts.

In progress: developing an outreach website to provide resources for parents, families and the community; creating a survey for parents to assess current outreach, engagement efforts, and determine needs for future efforts; and providing customer service training for all office staff and administrators.


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