York County School Board Newsletter

YCSD School Board Notes - January 2014

I am writing on behalf of the School Board of York County as the newly elected School Board Chair. This monthly email is intended to provide our community with information on the work of the school division and the School Board.

The Board held its annual organizational meeting on Monday, January 6. I am honored to serve as your new Chair, with Dr. Robert George serving as the Vice-Chair. I would like to thank Barbara Haywood for her leadership as the previous Board Chair.

Financial Matters

Dr. Williams provided the Board with preliminary information for the Superintendent's Proposed FY15 Operating Budget, which will be released in February. We plan to approve our proposed budget on March 24.

We reviewed key aspects of the school division’s last five budgets. 143 positions have been reduced. Historic reductions in state aid were made, resulting in a decline of 8.7% in per pupil funding from the state since 2009. The Board of Supervisors did not approve the funds requested by the School Board for the current budget. Given the declines in state aid and multiple years of budget cuts, the School Board requested $2.9 million (6%) more from the Board of Supervisors. The Board of Supervisors allocated $1.7 million less than requested by the School Board and $1.1 million less than recommended by the County Administrator.

The Governor's proposed budget increases funding for K-12 education this year, although the increase only partially restores the substantial reduction in state aid in recent years.  Also, it is anticipated that the increase would be slightly offset by reductions in federal funding due to sequestration, resulting in a tentative projection of net new revenue of approximately $2.8 million. We will need to decide what level of funding to request from the county.

The General Assembly and Board of Supervisors will make important decisions regarding our budget in the coming months. If you wish to provide input regarding the extent to which K-12 education should be a priority, you can obtain contact information here. Of course we also welcome your input.

Last year, facing the second year in a row of a 20% increase in health insurance costs, we revised our health care plans, increasing employee’s deductibles and co-payments. As a result of the changes and reductions in major medical claims, the division anticipates a three percent savings in Health Insurance costs.

The Superintendent reported that the needs of the division significantly exceed the projected new revenue. The state will require the division to increase its contribution to the Virginia Retirement System by approximately $1.8 million. More than $400,000 is needed to pay for 7 teachers, 2 Para-Educators, and materials and supplies for additional 190 students. Another $102,000 is needed for required special education teachers and para-educators.

We examined student achievement data that serve as warning signs of the budget reductions we have made in recent years. We reviewed $4.4 million of potential expenditures to begin addressing the gaps from previous years through expenditures relating to compensation and other areas, such as replacing textbooks, textbooks, and aging buses. We discussed the importance of revising compensation to make it more competitive. For example, our teacher salary schedule only ranks in the middle third of our local comparator group (Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, and Williamsburg-James City County). We want our teacher salary schedule to rank in the top one-third of these comparator divisions. After all, attracting and retaining a high quality staff is a key strategy for sustaining and building on the excellence of our schools.

It is important to note that Dr. Williams only presented preliminary information that is being considered in the development of the Superintendent’s Proposed FY15 Operating Budget. He has not presented recommendations yet.

We will hold additional work sessions and meetings throughout this budget cycle, with information on all upcoming meetings available online.

Operational Matters

We continued our review of progress towards achieving the goals and objectives of the division's Strategic Plan. At last week's meeting, we received reports focused on the goal of maintaining efficient, effective, service-oriented operations that support student achievement in safe, secure environments. In a review of a local comparator group of nine school divisions, the York County School Division ranked 9th of 9 in per pupil spending; 1st in English and Math SOL scores; and 2nd in graduation rates.

Academic Matters

Dr. Guy, Chief Academic Officer, provided the Board with information on the Middle Years Program at Yorktown Middle School. The school is in the midst of a self-study to prepare for a program review. Faculty members were surveyed earlier this year and the survey results showed that teachers found that division's Transformative Learning initiative currently parallel the goals of the MYP curriculum, but allow more flexibility than the MYP curriculum. Parents who responded to a similar survey favored the foreign language exposure provided through MYP, but were concerned with the time limits the program places on other electives and physical education courses.

Survey results, planned revisions to the MYP curriculum, and the cost of the program were shared by Division administration with the YCSD School Board at a Work Session on Monday, January 6. The recommendation to the Board was that the MYP be discontinued at YMS following the completion of the current school year. A parent forum will be held in the YMS Library at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 14, 2014.

Here are responses to a few questions parents have asked regarding MYP:

  • What will happen for gifted students if MYP goes away? The MYP is designed for all students and is not a gifted program. She explained that the needs of gifted students are met through Extend, advanced course offerings, and differentiation.
  • How will this impact my child's ability to get into the IB Diploma Programme? The IB MYP is not a feeder program into the IB Diploma Programme. Rather, admittance into the IB Diploma Programme is based on the student's academic history, interview, and essay.
  • If MYP goes away, will my child be allowed to stay at YMS? Students not zoned for YMS could continue at YMS through Open Enrollment.
  • Will my child have the same opportunity for engaging, authentic experiences provided by MYP? The Division's Transformative Learning initiative, engaging students in rigorous work that makes a difference, aligns well with the engaging experiences that parents value with MYP.

Upcoming Meetings

Our next School Board Monthly Meeting will be held at York Hall at 7 p.m. on Monday, January 27. All School Board meetings and work sessions are broadcast live on YCSD-TV, Channel 47 (Cox) and Channel 39 (Verizon). Meetings and work sessions are also rebroadcast on alternating nights at 7 p.m. Additional programming information is available online. I look forward to additional opportunities to share important information regarding our schools.


Thank you for your support of our students and staff!

Mark Medford
School Board Chair
On Behalf of the York County School Board

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