School Board to Ask Supervisors for Teacher Pay Raise and Level Budget Funding (Kind Of…)

 

The Clarke County School Board voted on Tuesday night to ask the Board of Supervisors for $281K in new spending to fund a two percent raise for Clarke County Public School staff. The proposed $19.99M budget also includes $147K in funding for 3.5 new instructional positions while cutting hours for school administrative staff, reducing lawn mowing costs, and possibly consolidating certain school-provided transportation options for students.  The proposed budget offers a half-percent increase over last year’s spending prior to adding $850K of Commonwealth-mandated spending increases.

School Board chairman Janet Alger (Russell) set the early tone for last night’s meeting by urging the School Board members on the importance of coming to a budget decision soon given the February 24th deadline for submitting financial requirements to the Board of Supervisors.

Earlier in the day Clarke County Supervisor David Weiss (Buckmarsh) asked CCPS Superintendent Dr. Michael Murphy to convey to the School Board his opposition to a salary increase given the difficult economic times.

“I don’t think that it is appropriate for County employees to receive a pay increase at a time when citizens do not,” Weiss said. Weiss also pointed out that it would be difficult for the Supervisors to deny a pay increase for County employees if teachers receive a pay increase.

2012 Clarke County School Board (l-r front) Janet Alger, Barbara Lee (rear) Elizabeth Leffel, James Brinkmeier and Chip Schutte - Photo Edward Leonard

County finance officials say that a two percent pay raise for non-CCPS County employees, including Department of Social Services staff, will cost about $100K.

After Dr. Murphy delivered Weiss’s message to the School Board, School Board chairman Janet Alger made her budget priorities clear to the other members.

“I’ve said that I support a cost of living allowance and the need for additional staffing,” Alger said. “We have to either come to a consensus on what we want by February 24th or ask for a delay.”

The School Board then began the painstaking task of sifting through the various “tiers” of school funding cuts. None of the proposed cuts found much support from the School Board or CCPS staff.

School Board members discussed the cost saving possibilities of longer bus routes with more students on each bus, fewer coaches for athletic teams, reducing school administrative staff, elimination of after-school programs at Johnson Williams Middle School, reduction in student athlete drug testing, elimination of the PAVAN arts program and cutting school calendar days to cite on a few of the options considered.

However, just as the budget deliberations appeared destined to become an exercise in debating the relative pain of slashing one program over another, School Board member Jim Brinkmeier (Berrryville) offered an approach that he said had the support of at least two County Supervisors.

Brinkmeier put forward a budget proposal that essentially offers a half-percent increase in school spending after making a series of Tier I and Tier II budget cuts after adding back $592K in state composite index funding. However, Brinkmeier’s budget also asks the Supervisors to pick-up CCPS’s $850K share of increases from the Virginia Retirement System, health and life insurance increases.

Brinkmeier said that he had spoken to several County Supervisors, who he declined to name, who he says concur with his budget approach.

The School Board also moved forward on funding $325K in capital costs to cover CCPS’s share of a proposed enterprise resource planning (ERP) system needed to replace the County’s inefficient antiquated information technology infrastructure and administrative systems.

In a series of motions the School Board:

– unanimously approved a two-percent pay increase for CCPS staff

– unanimously approved two and a half FTE licensed elementary teachers and a wheel chair instructional assistant position

– adopted Tier I budget cuts with the exception of restoring $50K to cover a possible shortfall in the food service program

– agreed to implement Tier II stipends cuts of $31,360 and delegate $7,000 in administrative personnel cuts to Dr. Murphy for implementation (Shutte – White Post – “Nay”)

–  approved $325K for the County-Schools ERP initiative (Brinkmeier – Berryville – “Nay”)

Although any school pay raise is far from certain given that the Clarke County Supervisors have final say on approving the necessary funding, several CCPS teachers and a school principal expressed their appreciation for the School Board’s vote of support.

“My husband is on the board of FISH, a local organization that provides assistance to people in need in our community,” CCPS teacher Beth Dowling told the School Board during the public comment period of the meeting. “Just this week FISH had requests from two Clarke County instructional assistants. I think that the requests put a human face on the hardships that some of our employees are facing.”

D. G. Cooley principal Griff Carmichael said that although CCPS’s instructional assistants are responsible for the success of many school programs, because they are hourly employees – and precluded working overtime – they are unable to help with afterschool tutoring and other programs.

“If you could find a way to help compensate these people I know that everyone would appreciate it,” Carmichael said.

Jennifer Crossway, a CCPS special education instructor said that she has wanted to be a teacher all of her life but never dreamed that once she became a teacher she would have to work an additional part-time job in order to support herself.

Crossway told the School Board that in order to make ends meet she travels four days a week to a part-time job in Winchester. The additional work and travel leaves Crossway with little time or energy for the necessary preparation and other after-school activities that go along with being a teacher.

“Even so, I’m proud to work in Clarke County,” Crossway said. “I still enjoy my job and I have the best students in the school division.”

The Clarke County School Board will reconvene on Monday night for a final review and vote on the budget before it is submitted to the Clarke County Board of Supervisors.

View the Clarke County School Board “FY13 Budget Discussion” documents here: CCPS FY13 Budget Work Sheets

Comments

  1. Mitchell Rode says:

    I do not know Mr. Brinkmeier and wish to cast no personal stones. However, he is taking the same approach as a number of the previous school board reps in that he is seeking the BOS opinion with regard to budgets as opposed to doing the mandated job of a school board member and advocating for the schools. The process is supposed to work like this: the schools determine their needs internally; the superintendent compiles all of the information form teacher, staff and administration input and presents it to the school board; the school board reviews it, makes sure all of the requests are true needs, asks any questions it needs for clarification; then the school board submits the budget request to the board of supervisors who either accept and fund it (LOL in Clarke County), or send it back with requests for adjustments based on limitations in available funds; then the school board revisits it as necessary to determine what “needs” can be cut. This goes on until agreement is reached. What the previous school board tended to do was to skip all of the preliminary steps, go directly to the BOS and find out what the limits were, then go back and say this is all we’re getting so fit the budget into it.
    When one is appointed or elected to the school board, one learns the meaning of the word “advocate”. Interesting word. Pronounced differently depending on whether it’s used as a noun or verb, but spelled the same either way. A school board member must encompass both uses and meanings. He or she is an “advocate” for the schools. He or she must also “advocate” for the schools. It is part of the essential definition of their jobs. It’s in the job description. going to the BOS and getting their opinion and/or approval before submitting a budget request is not part of advocating or being an advocate for the schools.

    • Well said!!! When are the school board members in this countygoing to step up to the plate and do the job that they are supposed to do.

      • Dontsmokewithwillie says:

        Even better said ! Mike is a good example of what the school system use to produce.He left for college and returned to give back to the community and certain factions made it hard for him continue to do so.Loudoun’s gain is Clarke’s loss.

  2. Thank you, Janet Alger, for your leadership on this, and for the ultimate support for a salary increase (sorely needed) and those elementary staff (even more critically needed). I personally would have liked the board to say “No cuts at all,” but this puts the ball squarely on the supervisors.

    Although…I’m not so sure that I like the idea of a SB member (Brinkmeier) bringing supervisors’ funding allocation ideas to the SB. To play the “well, supervisors I’ve spoken to, but won’t name, support my idea” game is something that perhaps doesn’t come across as positively as you hoped to spin it.

    Now, supervisors, time to step up and invest in your community. Fund this request.

  3. Clarke Life says:

    Yes, but everyone knows the Power in Clarke County rests with the Board of Supervisor’s! They can make or break you….. I feel sooooo embarrassed to live in a county that plays politics the way we do. I agree with Stonebroke. The School’s budget should be the first thing on the agenda these days. Keeping Middle School Sports, etc..

    Instead, we worry about a park down by the river that a few people will get together to play beer-pong at!
    Lets get real Clarke County! Priorities people!!

    • If it's so bad... says:

      and you are sooooo embarrassed, you might consider moving, along with all the others who are so disgruntled with this backwards, elitist, conspiracy-laden place with no CVS or fast food at your fingertips. You shouldn’t have to suffer so….

      • Stonebroke says:

        How original…like we haven’t heard that one before! How long did it take you to think of that one? I’m not suffering by any means….I would just like to have the opportunity to enjoy the conveniences like every other small town in America! I don’t think the word convenience or necessity is in anyone’s vocabulary…or at least it doesn’t seem like it!

      • My 2 Cents says:

        LOL! I’d rather stay but just have Mayberry step up to the plate and provide the citizens here what they need. Sorry but a new Pharmacy doesn’t Loudoun Clarke County! If you think so, you must have a conflict of interest….. And I woner why????

        I mean how many Cow-Fields do you really need to see?

  4. this seems to be fair for the most part. as long as this does not push the stone down the road to a tax increase on the homeowners and businesses. tighten that waist belt and not expand it.

    but a good point made about how they arrived to the numbers of what will be spent vers what is actually needed.

  5. I was at the meeting and from what I heard, ALL of the members agreed to a Cost of Living Increase and wished it could be more, but knew that 2% was pushing the limit in difficult times. In fact, was there anything in the new needs request that was denied?

    I hope we don’t start picking at school board members over a work session. I saw a lot of cooperation and positive discussion. This was a three hour meeting that cannot be fully covered in an article.

    Mr. Brinkmeier also said he had conversations with Dr. Murphy over the past week, not just the BoS. Janet Alger and Barbara Lee had excellent input from educator’s perspectives. Chip Schutte had several comments to make based upon his past experiences on the board and as a parent, and Beth Leffel was actively involved, asked questions, and proposed suggestions with the best interest of CCPS considering the impact of the tough decisions being made. They all did a fine job in my opinion. I don’t envy the work any of them has to do with this budget, including Dr. Murphy and his administration. I wish them all the strength to carry on this task full-speed ahead and without falter.

  6. i see a new slogan ” don’t loudoun clarke county ”

    when i was a little kid my family moved from farifax to loudoun. i saw the bumper stickers then that said ” don’t fairfax loudoun ” look at loudoun now … smart growth ? that depends on your perspective and your own needs. i do not mean to change the direction of the original story.

    at some point we will come to an impass , where the school budget and the county will not be able to squeeze the orange. there will need to be a constructive debate on the direction this county and community proceeds.

    my choice is growth in the choices of businesses which are atttracted here. do not add more homes , do not just add another grocery store , and a mcdonalds , and or the chain type burger joints. the need is for real jobs and jobs that have some real $$ attached to those who work there.

    loudoun attracted some interesting businesses and support from those businesses because of the strength of the school system. the quality of the students was what attracted a few of those.

    a lack of better words ? a self supporting economy will be needed to face and weather the storms of the future.

  7. Times are tough… how long before these underpaid teachers and assistants leave for job to support their families (and/or how many have we already lost)?

    2% is a minimum, it DOES NOT cover the true cost of living increases (remember, our government thinks gas and food don’t count in inflation).

    The people who have stayed have been patient and love what they do for the kids, for our community… but when it comes between being patient and serving the community, and taking care of their families, guess which comes first?

    and I second LILGAMO.. growing is part of a community,, or your community goes away. Smart growth, planned growth, not just cha-ching, look a 100 new taxable properties like Loudoun did (and then did not have the infrastructure to support them).

  8. Tammy Lanham says:

    Budget discussion continues… CCHS at 7:00 p.m.