Email Update: Update on the beginning of 2015

Dear Friends and Neighbors, 

It’s been a busy start of the year for the School Board.  We have been busy working on the budget for fiscal year 2016, reviewing our programs, working with efficiency consultants, and working on attendance zone redistricting plans.  The entire board has been working hard to make vast improvements to our school division.  While the division has had its struggles over the last several years, under the leadership of our Superintendent, Dr. Bruce Benson, and with the support of the School Board we are headed in the right direction.  

 

FY2016 Budget

The School Board has been working on developing the FY2016 budget for the division.   The process requires us to develop a proposed budget that we then send to Board of Supervisors for funding.  After the Board of Supervisors determines the level of funding for the school division we will then look at the budget again and make any necessary adjustments and approve a final budget for FY16.

In this year’s budget we are proposing a new model for teacher compensation.  For years the school division has used a traditional step model for teacher compensation and salary increases.  That model has made it difficult to continue to provide the step increases to ensure teachers are compensated for their years of service.  The new model is based on the market of teacher compensation among our peer school divisions.  Here is a link to a video of a presentation to the School Board on the new compensation model.

With the new model and proposed funding we will be able to increase our new and early career teacher salaries to improve our recruiting efforts to ensure we are able to hire some of the best teacher candidates.

The budget, as it stands now, also includes a 1.5% COLA for all division staff.  That COLA is made possible by the state government providing the COLA to state employees, which we get funding for based on Standards of Quality (SOQ) staffing levels.

The budget also includes funding for professional development, technology and new buses for pupil transportation.  However, the most important aspects of the budget come in the form of savings.  Dr. Benson and his staff have scrubbed the budget and found over $3.5million in savings, by closing and reallocating funds that have not been used in years, but continued to be funded.  Additionally our healthcare costs are going to be lower due to changes in healthcare reimbursement made in last year’s budget. 

I hope the Board of Supervisors welcomes the budget the School Board sends to them and fully fund the request.  If they do the school division will be in a great position to create some significant improvements.

Efficiency and Program Review

The School Board has also been working to make the division more efficient.  In last year’s budget we approved funding to have an efficiency study performed on the division.  The study has been ongoing and we are expecting a report in the coming month that will have recommendations on how we can operate more efficiently.  We should be able find additional savings for next year’s budget through the proposed efficiencies. 

We have also been reviewing the various academic programs and how they are delivered.  You may have heard about our study on programs such as Governor’s School, IB, and STAT.  First to calm any concerns, no significant changes to any of these programs will occur next year.  I don’t expect any significant changes to the availability of any of these programs in the coming years.  What we are finding is we can find more cost effective ways on how we deliver these programs.  Between changing how we transport kids to having more common schedules in all of our high schools we can provide the same quality of program at a lower cost.

We are also looking at middle school programs and in particular academic opportunities that require 8th graders to travel to high schools for certain classes.  The middle school principals have been working together to come up with common schedules and common instruction that will enable more instructional staff be available to teach advanced math and more foreign languages in the middle schools.  Details have yet to be presented, but I do hope we learn more about this in the coming months and we able to implement some of the improvements next school year.  I want to thank Dr. Tammy Hannah (principal at Drew Middle School) who has been an instrumental player in this effort.

Redistricting

We have been working on plans to redistrict some attendance zones in the county.  The only school of concern in the Falmouth District was Conway Elementary.  Conway’s population is growing and we had to take action to reduce the population.  There will be a few neighborhoods that will move from Conway to Grafton next year.  Redistricting is a very emotional process.  Especially at the elementary school level students and parents become very attached to the school they attend.  It’s a difficult but, unfortunately, necessary move.   I am confident the Falmouth District has three of the best elementary schools in the county and the Conway Cougars that will become Grafton Grizzlies next year will thrive in their new environment.

As always if there is anything I can be of service to you in working with school division please contact me.  It’s an honor to represent you on the School Board.  Together we can make Stafford County Public Schools a leader in the region and in the state.

Sincerely,

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Scott Hirons
Stafford County School Board
Falmouth District

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@scotthirons tweeted this page. 2015-03-02 23:27:39 -0500
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Email Update: Update on the beginning of 2015

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