Chesterfield County School District teachers and employees will start the 2012-13 school year with a new superintendent, a couple of new board members and a little extra incentive in their pockets. Chief Financial Officer Brad Willard told school board members Monday evening that “since the state legislature has signed off on the budget, we are in line with the budget planned and approved in June.”
That plan includes a 2 percent pay increase across the board for all employees, plus a step increase in wages for teachers. Traditionally, teachers are given a pay raise for each year’s level of experience. However, in the wake of budget cuts during the last few years, teachers in Chesterfield County were not paid for those gains.
William Watson, one of the newly elected members of the Chesterfield County School Board, asked Willard if the step increase in pay would include money for the years that had been skipped. The answer was no.
In response to recent test scores and statistical information concerning graduation rates, Harrison Goodwin, the district’s new superintendent, said, “We have to be careful as to what conclusions to draw from these numbers.”
“It’s a mixed bag of tricks,” said Goodwin, explaining that “drop out rates and graduation rates are not the same thing.” In determining the direction for improving test scores and statistics, “we will celebrate some … and scratch our heads on others,” said Goodwin.
According to Ken Buck, public information officer for the district, the “B” rating the district received from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), was the biggest cause for celebration among the overall assessments. Chesterfield County School District earned an overall score of 85.4, which means that the district’s performance exceeded the state’s expectations, said Buck.
The upcoming school year will also bring new policies regarding home-school and charter school students. The board unanimously passed an equal access policy Monday that will allow privately educated students to participate in sports and other extra curricular activities in public schools.
However, the details of that policy have yet to be defined. “We will be working with principals in the middle schools and high schools until we have a good, strong policy in place,” said Goodwin, that will directly address the avenues of access those students will have within the public school system.
Changes are also under way for state employee retirement plans and the “terry system” that has been in place for more than a decade. “We will be working with employees to make informed decisions on that,” said Goodwin.
And a little farther down the road, said Goodwin, the district will be working on mandates from the federal No Child Left Behind Act that will award teacher salary increases according to an A through F evaluation scale. “The devil is always in the details,” said Goodwin. “Nobody has even a clue as to what that’s going to look like yet.”
— Staff Writer Karen Kissiah can be reached by calling 843-537-5261, or by email at email@example.com.