Last year took a toll on America, especially the school system.
In 2020, mostly due to the coronavirus, many teachers lost their pay raises and their systematic step raises.
Last Tuesday, CCPS educators Donna Deplazes and Principal Melissa Whiting spoke on these two issues.
Deplazes shared that she had looked ahead at the documents of the meeting, which were made available about salaries for staff at the school.
“I would like to thank the administration and the board members for what was said and the plans that are in the works for actually recognizing the hard work and dedication of the employees here at the school system,” she said. “It might not be five percent and I am still going to push for that, but we will be happy. Two steps is really a must as it basically puts us back to where we should have been after what happened last year.”
Whiting, who has worked in the Craig County Public School system for 25 years, added many statistics that helped the Board to see a wide scope of the issue.
She shared that she purposefully wanted to speak to the Board after the representative spoke as she did not want to conflict with her message.
“Please know that my statements are not a plea for Melissa Whiting to get a raise. This is a request to reevaluate and to restructure the administrative pay scale,” she stated.
“We have five individuals on the administrative pay scale and the superintendent pay scale is a part of that which is part of the details in the contract,” she said. “There are three administrative pay scales – high school principal, elementary principal and assistant (which also includes the program supervisor and other coordinators).”
Whiting spoke on the high school principal scale, though she reiterated repeatedly that “All of the scales are in dire need of attention.”
For Whiting, the most recent data shows that there are currently five individuals that she supervises that have a higher salary than she or are within a few hundred dollars annually.
“All of those individuals are either ten-month or eleven-month employees and as you know, I am a 12-month employee,” she explained. “All of those employees also deserve every penny that they make, however, the pay scales are off-kilter.”
She continued, “If I would have remained a classroom teacher, and remained a ten-month employee with my stipend for obtaining my master’s degree, my compensation would be within $5,000 of my current salary as a 10-month employee. Had I remained on the classroom teacher pay scale and transitioned to a 12-month employee with my master’s degree stipend, my compensation would be more than my current salary.”
“There are several similar situations with other CCPS administrators, but I can only speak to mine,” she said. “Again, this is not a plea for Melissa Whiting to get a pay raise but a request for you to please reevaluate and restructure the administrative pay scale.”
Additional School Board agenda included Denny Williams sending a request to the Board to surplus three items which he feels they no longer need or can use: a 1997 bus with 212,000 miles, a salt spreader which came with the dump truck that was purchased but they do not need and a 2009 Ford Crown Victoria which had been wrecked. Everything was approved.
Superintendent Jeanette Warwick gave a report on the changes of the budget which the Board approved in their last meeting.
The first shared was the Governor’s proposed amendments to the budget, recommending no loss funding, and in order to compensate for enrollment loss, it would go back to before the pandemic so the school will not lose funding for students.
“They are stating the sales tax estimates are back up to the proposed levels and will be restoring that,” she said. “There will be a two percent bonus for instructional support positions and will change this to a salary increase if revenues are where they should be.”
Also noted was the counselor ratio was set as one to every 325 students which does not affect CCPS.
Warwick continued, “They are providing an extra payment to VRS and want to restore funding to maximize pre-kindergarten access. Also, we are preparing a needs-based budget. They will offer a savings account for employees who wish to take advantage of it and health insurance will see a 4.1 percent decrease this year.”
Warwick said they did research other quotes, but none better were found.
A happy moment for the teaching staff was announced that a step increase plus a two percent salary increase which will place the staff on their current step.
Added to the budget was another needed bus.
Warwick is seeking gym floor bids and parking lot sealing which will come out of the capitol budget.
Based on requests, additional budget considerations were made.
“McCleary staff gave data showing great need for a general pre-school teacher as the kids are entering school much less prepared, year after year and the daycare doesn’t have enough slots and has a waiting list,” Warwick said. “The Governor is putting funding into Pre-K and Warwick is looking at that.”
She also informed that surveys for middle and high school would be conducted, to see what type of classes students would like to see for CTE and Core.
“Based on that, we may be coming back for an additional teacher,” Warwick added. “And, as Mrs. Whiting said, to begin exploring the administrative salary scales as well.”
Hopes are to have a preliminary budget by end of January 2022 for review, however, they are unsure when they will receive numbers from the House and the Senate, therefore the Governor’s budget will be their guideline until then.
Warwick gave updates on COVID-19 effects too.
“Virtual Virginia started January 4 with the elementary school and some families choosing not to have that option, but the majority are enjoying the fact that their kids can see the teacher and their classmates, which is much more engaging,” Warwick shared.
Classes are from 8:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, where students get direct instruction from their teacher. On Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. they have times they can sign up for tutoring.
McCleary has 35 students enrolled in Virtual Virginia, five have decided to homeschool and 11 students have returned to traditional.
“Parents have given us great feedback and have made some modifications. Things are going really well,” she added. “Second semester, we will be enrolling as many high school students as we can.”
Samuel Foster shared that the middle school is a year-long program, therefore there isn’t a way to put a child in the Virtual Virginia program in the middle of the school year.
“Next year we will be using Virtual Virginia as much as possible and will be enrolling students who wish to utilize it,” he said. “We do maintain ADM. They are still our students and participate in things we do, it’s just that their teacher will be a Virtual Virginia teacher. That is the plan moving forward.”
Warwick ended the meeting on a good note by announcing that the schools have received a second round of coronavirus response and relief supplement appropriation of $575,452.
There are very specific ways in which those monies are to be distributed within the school system such as: facility upgrades, indoor air quality and focus on learning loss. Plans will be reviewed in the February Board meeting.
Warwick also reported that there was a vaccination clinic held on January 12 for school staff and first responders and approximately 49 percent elected to be vaccinated.
Member Gina Smith added a special thanks to the teachers and staff for all the extra work they have had to do during this pandemic adjustment. “I know when we sit up here and make these changes, it affects you guys a lot. I appreciate all your hard work, because I know it is a lot more legwork for you to make sure our kids are safe,” she said.