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Schools approve $1.9M in projects
Spending allotted for maintenance

Friday, February 8, 2013

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

The Henry County School Board has approved spending $1,935,261 for school facility projects and other post-employment benefits (OPEB) using fiscal 2012 carryover funds if the board of supervisors agrees.

The school board took that action at its regular monthly meeting Thursday.

Under the school board’s plan, $1,490,982 would be used for “operations and maintenance/facilities”: Axton Elementary roof coating and replacement, $280,000; Bassett High School HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning)/lighting and ceiling upgrade (first phase), $655,982; John Redd Smith Elementary access control doors, $55,000; Rich Acres Elementary classroom ceiling and lighting upgrade, $200,000; and Magna Vista High New Tech center, $300,000.

The plan also includes $444,279 for the additional post-employment funding.

The school division hopes to convert part of Magna Vista High School into a New Tech school — the first in Virginia, school officials have said. They hope it will open next fall with 100 rising ninth-graders.

According to the University of Indianapolis Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning website, a New Tech school involves students working in groups in large, open spaces on projects that cover many areas of learning. Classroom teachers act as leaders and guides, “ultimately helping students become directors of their own learning.”

Also at Thursday’s meeting, officials announced that Rich Acres Elementary School is one of 37 schools in Virginia to be honored by the Virginia Board of Education as a 2013 Title I Distinguished School.

This recognition is based on student achievement during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years. A school receives this award for achieving a mean score at or above the 60th percentile for both English and math; for meeting full accreditation for a minimum of two consecutive years; and for meeting or exceeding the annual measurable objectives (AMOs) for all students and for each subgroup for the current and previous years, according to a schools report.

In other business, Arnie Lucius, Apple Inc.’s K-12 account executive for Virginia, presented an Apple Distinguished District Award, recognizing the school division’s iPad initiative and other innovative use of technology.

The school division’s “21st Century Mobile Learning program has renewed status as an Apple Distinguished Program for the 2012-13 school year,” Stephanie Carullo, Apple’s vice president of education, wrote to the school division. “Your program joins 42 programs that Apple is renewing nationwide as exemplary learning environments and centers of innovation, leadership and educational excellence.”

Also at the meeting, the school board recognized the Magna Vista High School JROTC Raiders, which has earned its fourth consecutive state title. The team competed against 40 other teams at the state championship Nov. 3 in Chesterfield. The Raiders placed first in three of the five events and finished second in the other two.

Team members are Travis Jarrell, Wyatt Harr, Tyler Truini, Mike Short, Scout Custer, Ryan Lacy, Adrian Spears, Dustin Ramsey and Quentin Tedder, according to Sgt. 1st Class John Truini. He said the Raiders team has won seven of the last nine state championships.

The next scheduled meet is this month in Blythewood, S.C. The public is welcome at a Raider meet to be hosted by Magna Vista High School on March 2, he said.

Schools Superintendent Jared Cotton gave an update on the fiscal year 2014 budget process. Budget requests from principals, directors and department heads have been received/reviewed. Staffing charts have been prepared based on projected enrollment for elementary and middle schools. The capital improvement plan has been revised, he said.

He said it is hard to plan because of the uncertainties surrounding various state pay raise proposals for school employees, and it could be months before the school division receives final figures.

He said, for instance, that if the governor’s proposal ultimately is approved to give 2 percent pay raises to Standards of Quality-funded instructional personnel, it would require a local match if the school division accepts the state funds for the raise. In addition, in fairness and to prevent morale problems, the school division would need to give 2 percent raises to other school employees, Cotton said.

The total cost to the school division of doing all that would be more than $900,000, Cotton estimates, and could force the school division to cut staff or programs. He thinks that is cost prohibitive so he’s not pursuing it at this time, he said.

Cotton also said school officials do not yet know what health insurance costs will be, but they are estimating an increase of about 10 percent, which could be a bit high.

Cotton stated later in an email, “The approximate increase we are facing due to a 10 percent increase in health insurance premiums is $578,000.”

Cotton also said that not counting the estimated $448,996 in state funding for the state’s share of a 2 percent pay raise for SOQ-funded instructional positions, total adjusted revenues of $71,173,600 (including state, federal, county and other funds) is projected to be up $494,509 in fiscal year 2014. The $494,509 is about 0.7 percent (seven-tenths of 1 percent) more than the $70,679,091 in total adjusted revenues for fiscal 2013.


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