BUDGET UPDATE: I was previously "on the fence" regarding the topic of implementing full-day kindergarten in VBCPS. So, I have spent the last couple of months researching the topic. Here are my results:
1. VB Schools 2013 research shows there is no cost-benefit. Any gains made by participation in FDK level out by the 3rd grade. http://www.manningvbsb.com/kindergarten-research.html
2. VB already offers a full-day Kindergarten (EDK) program to students who are shown to be lagging behind their peers. I am concerned that the students who are currently participating in this EDK program would be negatively impacted by increased class sizes and less individual attention.
3. It is difficult for 5 year olds to sustain their attention for a full-day of curriculum.
4. VBCPS historically ranks among the top school divisions in the state. Some studies show benefits of half day Kindergarten over FDK.
5. In the current balanced budget proposal, middle school teachers are being asked to increase their work load in order to reduce class sizes (I am not in favor of this proposal-I believe there are other ways to reduce class sizes). It is my belief that class size reduction is a "need" and FDK is a "want".
The VB School Board will most likely be voting next week on whether or not to ask City Council for an additional $14 million to implement Full Day Kindergarten and expand Pre-K (the money is not available in the current budget). It is anticipated by me that this would necessitate a tax increase to the citizens of VB.
The School Board will be meeting again in workshop format this evening to continue to discuss these issues. Send your views to all board members: firstname.lastname@example.org or to me-- email@example.com
The BUDGET discussion continues this evening 2/21/17. Topics will include expansion of Pre-K and Full Day Kindergarten:
Topic: Full Day Kindergarten and Expanded Publicly Funded Pre-K
Please share your thoughts and consider this research conducted by VB Public Schools in 2013: http://pilotonline.com/news/local/education/study-gains-of-all-day-kindergarten-wane-over-time/article_4106c255-d326-5e2e-a754-1e0d74691eac.html
Post here or e-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I would like to ask citizens to review the Superintendent's Estimate of Needs and provide feedback. It is a summary of the proposed budget for next year. A few highlights:
1. Proposed 2% raise for ALL employees
2. Reduction of class sizes for secondary schools, paid for by increasing the number of classes taught by middle school teachers
3. No increase in healthcare costs
4. An increase in proposed spending of $17.2 million over last year
5. Projected continued decline in student population (next year's student population projection is a decrease of approx 403 students)
Feedback can be sent to the entire Board at email@example.com or given in person on 2/21/17.
The entire proposal can be found here:
Agenda for School Board meeting 2/7/17:
1. College and Work Readiness Assessment update
2. Transportation Update
1. Special Education Advisory Committee Reappointments
2. Recommendation of General Contractors for HVAC replacements
1. Superintendent's Estimate of Needs for FY2017/18 and Proposed CIP (Capital Improvement Program)
2. Advanced Placement Capstone Course
3. Student Support Services: Comprehensive Evaluation
4. Policy Review Committee Recommendations
5. School Board Retreat Review
The full agenda can be viewed here: http://www.vbschools.com/schoolboard/agenda.pdf
ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES ACADEMY
At the School Board Retreat this week, we were briefed by the administration on their plans to build a facility to house this academy. I would anticipate the Board voting on this soon. Here are some details:
1. Facility would be built as an extension of the Brock Center. Cost= $1.5 million. School Board would lease the land and would own the building. If approved, construction would begin in summer/fall of 2017, with students beginning in 2018-19 school year.
2. Per year cost for operations/curriculum/transportation are anticipated to be approx $240,000 for year 1.
3. Program would be for Juniors and Seniors only and would accommodate up to 100 students.
A. We have many facility needs (B.F. Williams, P.A. High, John B Dey ES, etc). Elevating this building project above the others is of concern to me.
B. This is a program, if wanted by the parents/students, that could be housed at an existing facility.
C. If the School Board leases the land, what happens if the Brock Center decides it doesn't want to extend the lease? Then we own a building on land we do not own. I questioned the lease agreement-- the answer was that a specific lease agreement has not been discussed and if the lease agreement ended we still owned the building and could move it.... ???-- how much would that cost??
D. The overall budget is going to be very tight this year!
I have asked for feedback from the community. If you have an opinion on this issue please post here and e-mail all Board members: firstname.lastname@example.org.