Superintendent highlights proposed budget increases

Superintendent Paul Nichols kicked off the School Board meeting on Tuesday, February 16 with the recognition of the MCPS Super Staffers and Perfect Teacher Attendance for the month of January. He also presented the School Board members with certificates of recognition from the Virginia School Board Association.

The fiscal year 2022 Proposed Budget will be up for public discussion at the Monday, March 1 Public hearing. Through the CARES Act the school system received a preliminary award of $5,152,855.22 to be used for summer school, remedial, and continuation of hotspot services as well as on devices if needed.

The Governor’s Proposed Budget is asking for a 2% Salary Bonus which may turn into a 2% salary increase, which will include money to pay for part of the expected costs. “What we have put in the budget is a request that the Board of Supervisors agree with us to out the teachers back on the salary scale that we had asked for. If that is done it will mean for all of our employees a 2% salary increase. Some of our employees will get as much as 3% because it’s a variation in the scale,” explained Mr. Nichols. “We still feel that we would be better trying to get the teachers back on the Step scale than we would be just asking for the increases.”

Mrs. Wanda Bailey asked the Board Members to reach out to their “counterpart” on the Board of Supervisors about supporting the salary increase for staff.

Salary increases have an expected cost of $1,447,176 extra dollars with $1,000,600 going to instruction, $121,589 to administration, $55,015 to transportation, $89,252 to operations and maintenance, $16,625 to technology, $24,500 to school food, and $136,595 to federal.

Another expected staffing cost increase in the hiring of a new middle school principal, high school principal, Scheduling Specialist, and Agri-science Coordinator at the new Mecklenburg County Middle/High School facility. Nichols says that they are hoping to have made decisions on these positions as of the beginning of July of this year.

Virginia School Regions VII and VIII are working on a proposal to put together a Virtual Academy Program for several reasons. One is that the private vendors that are making virtual schools available to parents are growing. “The state is expected to pass the bill that would say that schools must offer students a virtual option as well as a face-to-face option. We understand that some students are doing well with virtual education but that is the exception not the rule. We want to be able to see more students coming back face-to-face. That is our goal and we feel very definitely with our career academy’s, most of our students and parents will recognize that that is a very important opportunity,” said Nichols.

Another major issue is that teachers have had to work twice as hard this year while students learned virtually and face-to-face on the Elementary level. “That will not be the case next year because we will have something in place.” Moving forward with Mecklenburg’s participation in the Virtual Academy Program would require a vote of approval from the Board. Mr. Nichols also recommended Wanda Bailey as the Mecklenburg County representative.

The Board voted unanimously to participate in the Region VIII Virtual Academy Program and to have Mrs. Wanda Bailey represent Mecklenburg County and to name Brent Richey as an “Alternate” representative.

After a week of bad weather and power outages Mecklenburg County Public Schools were not able to return to face-to-face instruction on Monday, February 15 as planned. The schools reopened on an A/B schedule on Monday, February 22.

The Mecklenburg County Elections Board is requesting the School Board approve the use of Bluestone Middle School as a polling location for District 8, Precinct 802. Mr. Allgood, the Representative for that District, said that he did not see a problem with relocating to BMS since children were not in attendance on Election Day. The motion to approve the polling location change passed unanimously.