Thursday, December 10, 2015

Thank you to Susan Kearney and Kieran Sharpe – the Dec. 8 School Board Meeting

(These are my personal views and not official statements or records of the Board.)

On Tuesday evening, December 8, the School Board held a marathon meeting starting at 6 pm and ending around 11 pm.  There were open and closed sessions for the School Board, and open and closed sessions with the City Council.  This is a quick summary of the open sessions. 

The largest part of the School Board meeting was devoted to thanking Kieran Sharpe and Susan Kearney for their years of service.  I won’t repeat all the well-deserved tributes – I will only say that Susan was personally responsible for leading the Board and the schools through some of their most difficult times, and Kieran’s personal example of self-sacrifice on behalf of his community – on the Board, on the City Council, and through his personal life – sets an standard that can only be emulated, not equaled.

Something most of you will want to know – the School Board approved one of the two options presented for next year’s school year.  It approved the option that has a shorter winter break and starts summer vacation a few days earlier.  The approved calendar is here: http://www.boarddocs.com/vsba/fccpsva/Board.nsf/files/A4W85Q704397/$file/Draft2016.2017FCCPSCalendarOptionBRevised.pdf

There was some discussion of Mt. Daniel and George Mason.  With regard to Mt. Daniel, one board member raised the need to consider moving forward with safety and security upgrades at Mt. Daniel, if the construction there were further delayed.  The GM discussion was about the HVAC system, how long it would last, and how much it would cost if the large parts of the system failed (the whole system would be $6.5M, not including ductwork).  The administration also presented the draft capital plan, which includes contemplated school facilities construction.  http://www.boarddocs.com/vsba/fccpsva/Board.nsf/files/A4ZPHP5A92A2/$file/DRAFT_2016-17CIP%20(2).pdf

The three school employee advisory committees, for support staff, professional staff, and administrators gave their budget recommendations.  School staff were concerned with many of same things we would all be, such as ensuring fair pay and benefits, including for part-time employees.  The speakers emphasized the importance of small class sizes.  And the Professional Employee Advisory Committee also emphasized the value of communication and other intangibles – I am sure we all agree that teacher retention is not all about pay and benefits.

Last, the joint meeting with the City Council focused on the budget and school enrollment.  To make a long story short, the City expects that the funds available for expenditures will grow 2.3%, if keeping the current tax rate.


[One other note – early in the meeting there was a presentation of the Apple Distinguished Program Award to FCCPS.]

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