Education spending plan nears approval
By next week the superintendent and her staff hope the Hanover School Board will approve the proposed budget, which adds instructor positions, teaching resources and a 2 percent employee salary increase.
Overall, the board appears pleased with the spending plan Superintendent Dr. Jamelle Wilson presented Jan. 23; however, some did have a few minor concerns with her budget.
Some board members are concerned with whether funding for “Standards of Learning” resources is being used efficiently to benefit students.
About .2 percent of the $170.7 million proposed spending plan would go to restoring the fund for SOLs, so schools will have about $8,000 to use. Dr. Daryl Chesley, assistant superintendent of instruction said that those monies go to tutoring and helping students prepare for all assessments.
“We’re really targeting the needs of all students instructionally,” Chesley said.
Administrators can write a proposal and apply to receive some of the monies, once they describe their planned use of the funds.
School board members were curious about how successful the funded programs are for students, but division officials could not specify results. The programs can be anything that assists in student achievement.
“If you cant quantify it, how do you know who needs help?”asked Hank Lowry Jr., Ashland District representative.
Chesley said that principals voice the needs of their students when they apply for the funds and typically include data on student achievement in their school’s yearend summary report.
Robert L. Hundley Jr., chairman and Chickahominy District representative, said although teachers may not be able to “quantify” a specific student’s growth at first, they can by the end of the year. Hundley also pointed out that instructors can easily identify students who may need assistance such as tutoring.
Some board members were also concerned with the decreasing school nutrition budget, which the division is seeking approval for along with the operating financial plan.
Beaverdam District Board Member John F. Axselle III asked school officials at the Jan. 23 meeting to investigate why students are not eating and what they are purchasing instead of school lunches.
Feb. 4, Axselle said students may not have sufficient time to eat lunch.
“They may not make the effort to purchase [food],”he said.
Also, some school lunches are served much earlier than noon. For instance, Atlee High School’s first lunch period begins at 10:18 a.m. and the last group of students would finish approximately just after noon. Stonewall Jackson Middle School serves lunch as early as 10:45 a.m. and as late as 12:09 p.m. Also, some elementary students end up having only 20 or 25 minutes instead of the allotted 30 or 35 minutes.
Wilson explained that lunch times do vary from school to school and division officials would like to see more uniformity across the board regarding lunch start times.
“We have some work to do on the schedule side of things,” she said.
Improving the start time and schedule of lunches will be a goal of Chesley’s. He said targeting the schedule would be on the agenda for next year and explained the reasoning behind the early meals.
“Our driver was to maximize the student instruction time,” Chesley said.
Hundley said he would make lunch time after 11 a.m. a priority.
“I’d like to stay away from anything around 10 [a.m.],” Hundley said.
Wilson said the feedback the division received on this topic echoed Hundley’s suggestion.
“We’re going to be working on it,” she said.
The School Board is expected to make a decision regarding the proposed budget Feb. 11. If approved, Superintendent Wilson will present it to the board of supervisors Feb. 26 and the supervisors will give citizens another chance to weigh in March 26 at a public hearing.