Dr. Michael Murphy, Clarke County Public Schools Superintendent provided the Clarke County Supervisors with a school status overview on Wednesday. While new school construction, staff hiring and administrative advances offer bright spots, the superintendent also warned of looming curriculum challenges that may prove more difficult to solve.
Dr. Murphy delivered welcome news that two key staff positions; “Director of Curriculum and Instruction” and “Test Coordinator” have been filled.
CCPS has hired Ms. Lisa Floyd, the former Director of Testing & Accountability Northampton County Public Schools in Machipongo, Virginia to replace Dr. Matthew Eberhardt’s role as Director of Curriculum and Instruction. Eberhardt resigned at the end of the 2010 school year to take become Superintendent of the Madison County Public Schools.
The Testing Coordinator position will be filled by Mr. Ed Strewbridge. Strewbridge will move to CCPS from his current position just down the road from Berryville at Grafton School. Murphy said that Strewbridge’s sole focus will be on data analysis and testing.
Murphy said that due to staff turnover the school system has filled almost all of the 16 licensed staff positions that were vacant. Still needed are an Instructional Technology Resource Teacher, Early Childhood Education Specialist and a Speech and Language Pathologist for the special education program.
Murphy noted that if the Speech and Language Pathologist cannot be filled CCPS will be forced to contract the services from a private firm due to state special education requirements.
Schools ask Supervisors for More Budget Control as Surplus Shrinks
Over the past several years, CCPS has run budget surpluses at the end of the calendar year. The existence of year-end surplus funding, which historically has been returned to the Board of Supervisors for re-programming, has reflected negatively on the school system’s ability to effectively manage its resources while communicating a position of chronic resource shortages capital projects and other necessities.
Dr. Murphy told the Supervisors that CCPS had done a much better job of managing its resources in 2010 and expects to end the year $250K in the black. Murphy said that the current surplus, approximately 1% of the school budget, and future surpluses should be left in the hands of the School Board to be used for capital improvement projects.
“CCPS is going to recommend that 1% of the annual budget be designated for carryover by the schools so that we no longer robbing Peter to pay Paul for capital projects.”
School kitchen equipment replacement, leaky roofs and bus repair and replacement costs have caused budget struggles for the school system over the last year. Murphy said that the carryover amount will allow the school system to better manage and solve its capital expenditure requirements.
Sodexo Food Service
If all goes according to plan Clarke County students will soon be eating better and more appealing meals while they are at school. Dr. Murphy said that he expects approval of Clarke County’s selection of Sodexo as its food management vendor by Virginia Department of Education by Friday.
Murphy said that 18% of Clarke County’s students qualify for either “free” or “reduced price” school meals yet only 5% of the school population purchases breakfast at the school. Murphy hopes that Sodexo will increase participation in the breakfast program to 50%.
“Our goal is to increase meal participation by delivering quality meals,” Murphy said.
Dr. Murphy also told the Supervisors that there would be no lay-offs of Clarke County food service personnel as a result of the Sodexo contract.
New Fire and EMT Class Offering
Seventeen students have signed up for CCHS’s new fire science curriculum and another 23 are enrolled in the emergency medical technician curriculum.
“Right now we are investigating whether a current staff member who is a medical doctor in her country of origin can be certified to supervise the program,” Dr. Murphy said.
Students earn high school credit by participating in the Enders Fire Company summer Fire Academy.
Summer School Enrollment Drops
Dr. Murphy told the Supervisors that summer school enrollment was down significantly due to lack of school-provided transportation. Transportation funding was cut earlier in the year due to perceived budget issues.
Murphy said that the school system will re-evaluate the summer school program in light of the poor levels of enrollment.