School Board Is Cited For Service

Published 4:42 pm Thursday, March 7, 2013

BUCKINGHAM – The first order of business for Superintendent Cecil Snead during the February meeting of the Buckingham County School Board was the presentation of certificates of recognition to the school board in conjunction with School Board Appreciation Month.

“As you know we could not be who we are today particularly moving in the collective direction that we need to go without the guidance of our school board, our policy and decision makers,” said Dr. Snead. “So it gives me great pleasure to recognize each school board member and recognize our clerk of the board.”

Snead offered that their responsibility involves looking at all areas from the whole perspective of budget, instruction, facilities, personnel and more. He added that school board members also attend staff development sessions throughout the year including the annual Virginia School Boards Association Conference.

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While talking about the VSBA, Snead noted that Buckingham will host the VSBA Regional Forum on March 18 at the Carter G. Woodson Complex on Route 20.

He added that Pennie Allen, Principal of Buckingham Primary School, would be presenting a testimony about the design of the complex, including its cafeteria, and the healthy benefits that surround the design. Snead offered that would not be happening without the school board's involvement and direction.

On behalf of Buckingham County Public Schools, Snead thanked the board and the clerk for their hard work and dedication.

Acknowledging that Sandra Wier is not only the clerk of the board but also the division's financial manager, Snead, as he presented her certificate, told her, “I just want to say you are doing a great job and I thank you.”

FY13 Budget Adjustments

Following a presentation by Dr. Snead on adjustments to the FY13 budget, the board approved his recommendations and authorized him to submit the adjusted budget to the board of supervisors during its March 11 meeting. Kathy Midkiff and David Christian were absent.

Snead began his presentation by thanking his staff, Sandy Wier, and the principals for all of their hard work to make the $22 million budget work.

Going through his PowerPoint presentation, Snead advised that March 31 is the date the final ADM, Average Daily Membership, is submitted. He noted that the ADM is very important because it is the basis of state funding.

Explaining the need to adjust the budget, Snead shared that one reason is the ADM, which for Buckingham has experienced an increase.

He said the FY13 budget was set on an ADM of 1,921. “We have gone as high as 1,984 but we are currently down to 1,972 and we are basing it on 1,975-so we are hoping we go up a little bit,” explained Snead.

Moving to the next slide, he noted that the federal carryovers are from the prior year. According to Snead, the local carryover, at this point, is projected to be $320,157.20. He cautioned, “That's on paper.”

Snead stressed that they did not have $320,157 to spend because of the payables and receivables. “We look like we are carrying over a lot of money but we are really not,” he stated.

Substantiating his message, Snead outlined that at the beginning of the school year they hired new teachers due to increased student enrollment and kept a secretarial position at BCMS, which were among the main expenditures that led to the adjustment. He added, “We wish that the money we are carrying over was extra money but it's not.”

Returning to the ADM, Snead noted the adjustment brings the county appropriation from $5,456,561 to $5,794,757; and, the total budget would increase from $21,053,151 to $22,022,997.

Wier followed with an explanation of the reversal and receivable budget moves from the FY12 and FY13 books.

“It looks like you have that $320,000 but it's just like your checking account. When you are reconciling it, you've got an outstanding check over here, you really don't have that money to spend because you've already written the check but it just hasn't cleared the bank,” offered Wier. “That's the same way it is here.”

Looking at FY12 and FY13 expenditures, she concluded, “We actually had to bring back $375,000. So we are ending up in the hole $55,000 from what we had budgeted.”

Snead said they talked with the auditors closely about that so they could do a better job next year.

“What we are going to do for services received in 2013-14, we are going to pay out of FY14 money,” he explained. “Once we get through FY14, then we think we will be on cycle.”

What Are We Facing in FY14?

Moving on to the FY14 budget, Snead said the school board and board of supervisors are scheduled to meet for a joint work session on the budget on February 26. Then, on March 13, the school board will conduct a public hearing on the budget in conjunction with their regular March meeting at 6 p.m.

Following that meeting, the school board plans to announce another March meeting during which it will adopt its proposed FY14 budget for submission to the board of supervisors.

Before moving on to additions proposed for the FY14 budget above the FY13 budget, Dr. Snead stressed, “These are not decisions that have been made but these are considerations.”

Continuing, Snead said the budget proposals include the first annual payment of $102,490.67 for the lease/purchase agreement with Honeywell.

“We are also looking at the Virginia Retirement System,” stated Snead, noting that they could go either the one percent or the three percent route.

Offering a message to employees, Snead stated, “That would not be your raise and that is the biggest point that I have to put out there to people.”

The list also included retirement payouts; a two percent raise for employees; and either an employee step or a $500 employee bonus, which would not be a recurring cost. Snead also added that the aging bus fleet needed to be addressed.

On the flipside of the coin, Snead said they must consider rising health insurance premiums. He shared, “That is our biggest variable and our most feared variable.”

Snead added that the school board, being the employer, also has to look at the impact of the mandates of Obama Care.

Moreover, he cautioned that there is concern regarding the effects of Sequestration.

“So the board has to prioritize buses, Honeywell, two percent raise, one percent versus three percent VRS, and health care, which is a complete unknown,” concluded Snead.

Four New Buses

In an update, during that February 26 budget work session, the school board and the board of supervisors, in an obvious amicable and cooperative spirit, talked about the budgetary constraints facing both the county and the school division.

The discussions covered salaries and benefits, including VRS increases; school security upgrades, the feasibility of sharing a grant writer, and the need for the school division to upgrade its bus fleet, which has some buses with over 170,000 miles.

As the school board shared several FY14 budget priorities, which included purchasing four buses at a projected cost of $340,000, County Administrator Rebecca Carter advised that the county has received additional FY13 revenue in conjunction with the Bear Garden Power Plant.

She explained that if it was the pleasure of the board of supervisors, the money could be used to purchase those four buses now. Carter added that she was not sure the funding would be available in the FY14 budget.

Subsequently, a motion by Supervisor Joe Chambers, with a second by Supervisor Danny Allen, drew the board's unanimous support to purchase the buses now.

As the school board and superintendent expressed their appreciation, Carter concluded, “Send the bill to the county.”

Resolution Recognizing F. Acie Allen

Although former school board member F. Acie Allen was unable to attend the meeting due to a prior commitment, Chairman Ed Wise read the board's resolution to Allen thanking him for his 13 consecutive years of service as a member of the school board. .

Along with expressions of appreciation, the resolution commended Allen, who served as chair for four years, for providing “strong leadership for the construction of the new Buckingham County Middle School, the new Transportation and Maintenance Complex, and the new Carter G. Woodson Complex.”

Looking for a Sign

During the public comment segment, Geraldine Jones, Chair of the Education Committee for the Buckingham Chapter of the NAACP, asked about the status of the sign for the Carter G. Woodson Education Complex on Route 20.

Facilities Director Chip Davis advised that at this time, the sign is on hold until the essential parts of the project are completed.

Vice Chair Sherry Ragland explained that the architect drew up one design but the board rejected it. She added, “We just recently got the actual names on the buildings.”

Davis noted that the sign's infrastructure, including electricity, is in place. “Right now we just need to come up with another design,” he stated.

Jones offered, “When this happens we would like to see it and have some input.”

Chairman Wise assured Jones that once the board has a conceptual drawing or picture of the design, they would share it with the public.

In Other Board Action

A request from the Buckingham County High School SCA for financial assistance to attend the Virginia SCA Convention in Williamsburg drew a wait and see response from the school board.

With a motion by Thomas Hutcherson and a second by Pete Gowin, the board moved to table the request until the next meeting when it has a better picture of what the FY13 budget may allow them to do.

In its request, the SCA asked for $1,049.60 to pay for the rooms, registration, and lodging for the two advisors and one bus driver.

SCA Advisor Mary Stearrett explained that would allow the SCA's existing funds to be used for the students who would be attending. “We want to offer them as much assistance as we can,” she shared.

The board unanimously approved Pete Gowin as their voting member on the VSBA Insurance Committee.

Following a closed session, the board approved its personnel agenda as presented. Retirements included Joanne Jones, office aide at BPS, effective January 14, 2013; and Ernestine H. Atkinson, teacher at BES, effective April 1.

Resignations included Kaitlyn Hodges, hourly special education aide at BPS, effective January 16; and Carlton Brooks, BCHS English teacher, effective June 30.