- Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 2008 17:27
- Published on Wednesday, 31 December 2008 17:27
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Salary still a priority
The School Board heard an annual presentation on budget request priorities from the King George Education Association (KGEA) prior to the Christmas break, at a meeting on December 15.
All requests from the KGEA have a cost associated with them.
The School Board is expected to have some tough decisions when it begins its budget deliberations scheduled in mid January.
Superintendent Candace Brown is scheduled to present her recommended budget request to the School Board at a meeting on January 14.
Under the Governor’s proposed budget for 2009-10, state revenue for King George schools is estimated to be about $680K less than in the current fiscal year, with an estimated 138 more students expected to be enrolled.
The state is likewise estimating a lower required local effort from the county. That is estimated to add up to over $1 million less for the King George School Board from county taxpayers.
KGEA co-presidents Urzetta Lewis and Kathy Heil, both teachers at King George Middle School (KGMS), gave a presentation and provided handouts indicating the top requests from teachers and other employees according to a recent survey conducted by the organization.
Heil said their organization’s survey had netted responses from about 200 school employees.
o HIGHER PAY STILL TOP PRIORITY The survey primarily consisted of several multiple choice questions with four answers from which respondents could select.
The questions centered on salary, health insurance, retirement benefits, paid sick and personal leave and work issues.
Survey results indicate that employees’ major concerns continue to focus on salary issues, including a desire to have teacher pay increased to match the area average, at a minimum.
A total of 91 percent of responses (183 people) said they wanted raises.
That was broken down with 36 percent (73 responses) saying they wanted an across-the-board percentage increase for all employees.
Another 15 percent (30 responses) said they wanted an across-the-board equal dollar increase for all employees.
An additional 40 percent (80 people) said they wanted an increase to first ensure that teacher salaries remain equal to or lead the market average in our region, then to fund increases for employees on the graded pay plan.
The remaining 8 percent of respondents (17 people) said they would be satisfied to forgo a salary increase if money were instead used to offset their health insurance premiums.
o LOWER ELEMENTARY CLASS SIZES The KGEA also asked the School Board to reevaluate its class size policy, which is strictly based on the state’s Standards of Quality in the Code of Virginia set by the General Assembly in coordination with the state Board of Education.
The KGEA requested a significant decrease in pupil/teacher ratios to lower the division average from a maximum of 24 students, down to 20 students in Kindergarten through 3rd grade classes, with no individual class larger than 24 students, versus 29 students for Kindergarten and 30 for the other primary grades, as recommended under the SOQs.
Similarly, for 4th through 6th grades, it asked for a decrease in pupil/teacher ratios to lower the division average from a maximum of 25 students to a maximum of 21 students.
Given the current student enrollment as indicated by the latest publicly-released enrollment report, at the county’s three elementary schools, that non-monetary request from the KGEA would add at least 10 more teachers, estimated at $500K for salary and benefits.
The KGEA also addressed class sizes at the secondary level.
For all English, social studies, math and science classes in 6th through 12th grades, the KGEA also asked for a maximum average of 21 students, with a maximum average of 25 in all other classes.
The current School Board policy cited by the KGEA is policy IHB. That policy indicates a lower average class size of 21 students in middle and high schools.
It states, “In addition, the King George County School Board shall assign instructional personnel in a manner that produces school wide ratios of students in average daily membership to full-time equivalent teaching positions of 21 to one in middle schools and high schools.”
o OTHER ISSUES The KGEA also asked for a change in Staff Leave Benefits Policy GCBD-R to raise the per diem pay rate and also address proposed changes to sick leave, personal leave and leave without pay.
They also suggested that professional development requirements be relaxed, with more opportunities for non-technology classes be provided by the division within the county.
The KGEA also asked for scheduling changes that would secure a 7.5 hour day for employees at all schools.
In addition, they requested that professional development and common planning time be scheduled on a regular basis, such as a half-day each month.
o BUDGET MEETINGS SCHEDULED The School Board is expected to begin its budget deliberations at a meeting scheduled for January 14.
At that time, Superintendent Brown is expected to present her budget recommendations to the School Board.
Budget work session meetings are scheduled to be held by the School Board on January 21, 26 & 28 at 4:00 p.m., location to be determined.
A public hearing on the School Board’s proposed budget request is scheduled on February 4 at 6:00 p.m., location to be determined. The School Board is expected to vote on a budget request to forward to the county at a meeting on February 11, location to be determined.
By Phyllis Cook, Staff Reporter