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2017-04-05 / News

School Board tackles salaries, attendance waivers

BY RICH GRISET STAFF WRITER

On March 31, the School Board discussed teacher salaries, waivers and other topics during its quarterly work session. Here is a roundup of those discussions:

Teacher Salary Scale

During a presentation on unfunded priorities, the School Board voiced approval for an additional $435,000 to go to teachers’ salaries, and asked for more information about adding Medicaid staffing. The recent state budget passed by the General Assembly included an additional $34 million for local school divisions to spend as they choose. This funding would give Chesterfield County Public Schools an additional $600,000.

Adding $435,000 to teachers’ salaries would allow the school system to add a $100 increase to each step of the teachers’ pay scale. The adjustment is in addition to the 2 percent salary increase included in the fiscal year 2018 budget the School Board submitted to the Board of Supervisors earlier in March, and would raise teachers’ salaries in Chesterfield above its regional counterparts.

The School Board also discussed adding two Medicaid staffing positions, which would cost $115,000 and could yield additional revenue for the school system.

“We think that there’s a huge opportunity for us to get more funding” through Medicaid reimbursements, said Superintendent James Lane.

Waivers

The School Board revisited its policy regarding waivers for students to attend schools outside of their home school zone. As written, School Board Regulation 4040-R doesn’t allow the granting of waivers to any school deemed “over program capacity.”

A memo from Donald Fairheart, school system chief of staff, identifies 13 elementary schools, three middle schools and Cosby High as being at 100 percent capacity or higher. Lane sought to clarify the School Board’s position on waivers for these schools.

Vice chairwoman and Bermuda District representative Carrie Coyner voiced concern over the inclusion of three schools on Fairheart’s list – Margarite Christian, Enon and Elizabeth Scott elementary schools – pointing out that they are only temporarily overcrowded, as the latter two have been combined while a new Enon school is built, with some of those students also attending Margarite Christian. Once the new Enon is completed, all three will be under capacity. The board discussed allowing flexibility on waivers for schools dealing with construction issues.

Early Intervention

Samantha Hollins, director of special education, gave a presentation on Coordinated Early Intervening Services. CEIS are services for students who are not identified as needing special education services, but need additional emotional and academic support.

The Virginia Department of Education has identified the county school system as one that disproportionally suspends black students with disabilities. Because of this, the school system must use 15 percent of its Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Part B grant award, or about $1.78 million, for CEIS services.

Hollins recommended adding 16 new positions, including six social workers and seven behavior intervention specialists. She also discussed bringing in a remedial study skills program, such as Advancement Via Individual Determination, to Carver, Salem Church and Falling Creek middle schools at a total cost of $420,000. ¦

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