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More PE Students

PRINCE EDWARD – The number of students has risen since the opening of school, but plans are in the works to deal with what would be a loss of state revenue.

The current budget is based on a projected average daily membership of 2,460; as of September 30, it stood at 2,410. According to School Finance Director Cindy Wahrman, the 50-student reduction would equate to a reduction of $252,012 in state revenues.

“We're hoping that that ADM will go back up and our shortfall will diminish, but at the present time $204,000 of the ($250,000) have been identified as areas where we can meet those shortfalls in revenues,” Ms. Wahrman told the school board at their October 6 meeting.

Specifically, the school has three unfilled positions-one in each of the schools in non-core subject areas, saving $157,000; a $20,000 savings with late starts (some positions were filled a little late); a $20,000 savings in health insur-ance plan changes (some have reduced and opted for a single plan), projected to save $20,000; and a policy change where the school system is no longer responsible for the triennial census, a savings of $7,000.

A portion of state funding is based on student membership, as determined at the end of March, 2011. State funding is roughly $5,500-$6,000 per student.

Since 1992-93 (which opened with a membership of 2,595), the high water mark of students came in the 2003-04 school year. That year, the school opened with 2,760 and ended with 2,715.

The 2009-10 school year, completed in June, ended with 2,474 students.

Positive Numbers

On the flip side, the good news for the school system is that they have been awarded federal funds (through the Educa-tion Jobs Fund Program).

The program is designed to provide financial assistance to states to either save or create education jobs for 2010-11. Prince Edward is slated to receive $698,370.

“It is to be used for salaries and benefits to provide education-related services to our students,” Ms. Wahrman reported.

It excludes contracted services.

The funds can be used this year and what's not used could be carried over and expended by September of 2012.

School board members were presented, and approved, a proposal for expending a portion of the funds this year but opted to wait before approving plans to spend the balance for 2011-12.

Ms. Wharman, in explaining the proposal, outlined that they asked principals for their ideas and needs in their schools on ways to use the funds “as needed, appropriately.”

Additional expenditures approved include:

*$31,200 for Virtual Virginia On-Site Mentor-high school. The individual would facilitate Virtual Virginia classes on-site, including the current Latin program and other Advanced Placement courses that are available and can be offered.

*$19,240 for a clerical assistant position at the elementary school, which it was cited is greatly needed to help cover the front desk, do some clerical duties and provide assistance in the busy office.

*$8,600 to add ten additional days for the high, middle and elementary school assistant principals and high school guidance director. Assistant principal contracts end in May and the additional time would help the assistant principals in preparation for the next school year and, it was also cited, there are summer programs that assistant principals are re-sponsible for.

*$31,200 for student services specialist at the high school. The individual would work with the high school on on-time graduation and dropout prevention.

*$14,500 for a part-time math teacher and $14,500 for a part-time English teacher for the New Horizon Academy (the alternative school). “Our interest is in helping the students,” Division Superintendent Dr. David Smith said. “We have a heightened level of awareness that the failing test scores, SOL, and the impact on graduation rate, has a negative affect on our accreditation ratings as well. And our first concern is for the well-being of the students.”

*$34,200 for a reading specialist/coach at the elementary school. The individual would assist teachers and work with students.

*$9,000 for a bus driver-Daycare/substitute. The number of students riding in the afternoons to daycare has in-creased. The bus driver addition aims to accommodate the increase.

Collectively, the board agreed to spend $162,440 with salaries factored starting November 1.

The board took no action on a 2011-12 expenditure proposal (that factored continuing funding for the additional posi-tions and ten special education tutors for the elementary school and totaled $457,520) and was also presented a list of additional needs requested for positions exceeding the targeted federal funds.

School board member Dr. Ellery Sedgwick cited that the allocation of the budget should be driven by their priorities.

One of their priorities this year is improving the SOL scores of the high school and, he cited, that involves very specific classes.

“Is this doing as much as we can with that money to further that effort?” he asked.

It was noted that it's in addition to what they are currently doing, in addition to what's being done over and above with school improvement efforts at the elementary and middle schools.

“That's an excellent question because the needs are great across all three schools,” Dr. Smith said.