Joint Culpeper boards discuss budget

Parents of students who go to Pearl Sample and A.G. Richardson elementary schools have something to look forward to in approximately 18 months–less traffic congestion.

Roddy Reyes, ATCS, PLC, had previously presented two options to the Culpeper County Public Schools (CCPS) Board to alleviate traffic flow problems. At Mondayâ??s work session, the Board voted to choose the option which will split traffic, add stacking lanes, and provide additional parking. The costs are estimated to be $418,000, which includes construction, off site work, possible rock removal, and soft costs. Board members agreed that this construction may not solve all of the problems, but will certainly help traffic congestion for the schools.

Lisa Walker, guidance director at Culpeper County High School, shared an all inclusive planning tool called Family Connections for middle school and high school students. The portal can be customized for students and their families. For example, high school students have different needs, such as transcripts, college searches, and college visits. Walker called the program a “one stop shop” where students can search local scholarships and download college applications.

Students can also keep information on their own page, such as their interests and plans of study. It is a place where they can keep various documents: resumes, volunteer and extracurricular activities, and test scores. The portal is also available in Spanish. In the future, alumni will soon be able to access their previous information through the portal.

Board Chairperson Elizabeth Hutchins provided information on the superintendent search. Those who were unable to attend their assigned focus groups may attend one of the “Meet and Greet” sessions, which are candidate presentations, not interactive exchanges. Also, people may send an open letter to the Board regarding the search. These letters must be sealed, with the label “Superintendent Search” on the envelope and given to Pearl Jamison at the school board office.

Building more schools subject of joint board meeting

Culpeper County Public Schools (CCPS) Superintendent Dr. Bobbi Johnson gave a formal presentation of the school district’s proposed FY’16 budget of $80,811,260 to the Board of Supervisors last Tuesday. With the increase of $2,190,133 from last year in requested expenditures, CCPS is asking for $1,434,593 in local funding. State revenues will be $44,411, which is $4,460 less than originally expected due to a lower student population this year than anticipated.

Most questions from supervisors centered around salary increases. CCPS will receive state funds of $380,000 if the district provides a 1.5 percent raise for its employees. The School Board is asking for a 1.647 percent raise to the start of each scale to achieve a beginning teacher salary of $39,387. Also, CCPS is asking for additional staffing due to division needs. In addition to the need for three teachers, the district is requesting funds for a School Improvement Coordinator. With increasing state and federal mandates, current staff is overburdened with data collection and reporting requirements, taking them away from regular job responsibilities.

Following the budget meeting, both boards held their joint meeting. Trends in school population growth was one item. John Egertson, assistant county administrator and planning director, provided a comparison of the county’s population growth and the school population growth during the past five years. He also gave projections by the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service which anticipates an annual 2.25 percent growth rate in development between 2014-2020.

Regarding student growth, Egertson said the population appears to remain fairly level over the next five years. Johnson pointed out that a look at past trends determines the projected growth of the student population.

CCPS presented supervisors with current facility space available and future needs, with Farmington and Yowell Elementary Schools having the most pressing needs for additional space. While quick fix solutions include closing open spaces at Yowell and adding modular units to Farmington, general discussions involved the advantages and disadvantages of adding or renovating older schools while impacting common areas, such as libraries, cafeterias, gyms, and traffic flow, as well as building systems replacement and abatements.

Although no decisions regarding building needs were made, it was generally agreed by both boards that student population growth should be monitored and a property search should begin, in case new facilities are needed in the future.

Alice Felts is a freelance contributor with the Culpeper Times. You may reach her at alicerfelts@gmail.com