- It was a scheduled public hearing concerning the proposed NKC School Division upcoming budget;
- The meeting was held virtually due to public health restrictions in place as a result of COVID-19;
- Five (5) comments were submitted;
- Superintendent Nicholsor or the staff would get back to the respective respondent;
- The School Division would continue to move forward with redistricting planning (to stay on track) even though County funding for the new school was in question.
All members of the NKC School Board were present.
The meeting was called to order at 1801. It was a scheduled public hearing concerning the proposed NKC School Division upcoming budget. The meeting was held virtually due to public health restrictions in place as a result of COVID-19. Since the meeting was held via the internet, audio quality was mediocre and it was not possible to determine the number of citizens actually tuned into the event.
Through previous public announcements in various media sources, the Board solicited comments from the public for this meeting. Five (5) comments were submitted.
- Please describe the new positions that are being requested. I am referring to the first three lines of the “Position/Staff Changes” slide in the budget doc. (What kinds of teachers, support, and planning positions are these) And please explain why they are needed.
- Will there be a new ‘plan’ for anticipated teacher raises. How will the additional expenses from the Coronavirus impact the budget? What is your contingency plan? Has there been any talk or preliminary guidance about anticipated grants or special funding from the state and local government to help offset our losses to the county and the schools?
- What is being planned for Bridging Communities? There is only one expenditure adjustment for BC Tech. Center, $17,980, and we understand this only covers a small amount of additional seats. How many students attend these programs currently? If we plan to expand these programs, where is the funding?
- Why do students who enter the Early College Academy, attending Rappahannock Community College, pay out-of-pocket almost $1,800 for an associate’s degree while other New Kent students do not contribute to their college tuition through a NK county funded regional program?
- Can you please explain where else in the budget there is additional funding for Special Education? I realize this is just one subsection of the entire budget and there are other items funded. How many students are currently served through our special education department?
Superintendent Nichols addressed each question with few specifics, mostly general comments, noting that he or the staff would get back to the respective respondent. He mentioned they will continue to work the budget within the COVID-19 scenario. Regarding question #3, he noted that there are 65 students at Bridging Communities and most of the money requested would be used for HVAC upgrades. Before switching topics, he reiterated that answers for each question would be forthcoming.
The subject then switched to the new elementary school and funding. Audio at this point was particularly poor. He noted that the School Division would continue to move forward with redistricting planning (to stay on track) even though County funding for the new school was in question. Mr. Meade questioned contractual contractor expenses given funding uncertainties. Ms. Barber answered noting that expenses were reimbursable with receipt documentation. Dr. Hardinge then praised the School Division administrative staff for their excellent COVID-19 response.
The public hearing lasted 14 minutes and adjourned at approximately 1815. The Board reconvened immediately thereafter in closed session.
OTHER NOTES OR COMMENTS:
As of this writing, funding for the new elementary school is in question. The BoS is trying to assess the potential economic damage to the County caused by the COVID-19 response. Given the unknowns and budget ramifications and/or the unknown financial landscape over the coming weeks and months, District 4 Supervisor Stiers suggested delaying the project for one year. The BoS is considering their options. (These comments provide external context from additional sources surrounding the elementary school project and were not discussed in the public hearing detailed above).
Prepared by Paul Ross
School Board Meeting Agenda: https://go.boarddocs.com/vsba/nkcps/Board.nsf/Public
(Click Meetings, select 30 March 20, click Agenda)