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Caroline, Fredericksburg schools revisit how to make up lost time

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A pair of School Boards on Tuesday night each discussed how students will make up missed instructional time from snow days.

After missing 14 days of school and starting late six times so far this school year, Caroline County students will spend 15 minutes longer at school each day, beginning Monday until the end of the year.

The School Board unanimously approved extending the school day in a work session Tuesday. Madison District’s Shawn Kelley was absent from the work session.

Before Monday, school officials worked it out so that if all early-release days were extended to full days, days were added to the end of the year, and some holidays were made into regular school days, there would be enough hours completed to meet the state’s requirements.

Five days were scheduled to be made up: Feb. 17 (which turned out to be a snow day) and June 16–19. Early-dismissal days of Feb. 11, March 11 and March 27 were all extended. April 18 is another early-dismissal day that the board had extended.

This week’s snow threw a kink in that plan. Caroline students were out Monday and had a two-hour-delay Tuesday.

If any more school is missed, school officials will have to re-evaluate.

How the extra 15 minutes is spent will be decided by each school individually.

Fredericksburg schools were in better shape in terms of built-in time for snow.

The only change the School Board needed to make, in addition to earlier schedule revisions, was to make May 9 a full day, instead of an early-dismissal day.

School officials said Tuesday that in addition to the makeup time, the school system has accumulated beyond the state’s 990-hour requirement.

In the two meetings Tuesday, the boards also discussed their proposed budgets for next school year.

The Caroline County School Board went back to the drawing board after learning that the school system would not receive the full $14.6 million it requested from the county.

County Administrator Charles M. Culley Jr. budgeted $12 million for operations for the school system in his proposed fiscal 2015 budget.

That’s an increase of $346,196 over last year’s allocation, or 3.13 percent.

Culley presented his proposed budget to the Board of Supervisors last week.

In his presentation, he noted that to fully fund the school system’s request, it would result in a 17.6-cent increase on the real estate tax rate.

Schools Superintendent Greg Killough asked for 17 new positions, increases to salary steps for teachers and 12 percent raises for support staff, money for materials, supplies and equipment, adjustments to health care coverage and money for professional development, among other things.

At Tuesday’s work session, the School Board discussed re-evaluating their request to the county, but didn’t make any solid decisions about how the requested amount could be reduced.

Killough surveyed the division’s teachers about how to make cuts in the areas where he proposed increases.

He gave the same survey to the School Board members, but they could not come to a consensus on each topic.

The School Board and the Board of Supervisors will have a joint work session next Tuesday.

The Fredericksburg School Board unanimously approved a $39.9 million operating budget for fiscal 2015 at its Tuesday night meeting.

Schools Superintendent David Melton’s budget includes 1 percent salary increases, which will cost the district $284,000 for all full-time employees, and adding 10 new teaching positions next year: three at Hugh Mercer Elementary School, two at Lafayette Upper Elementary, two at Walker Grant Middle School, two at James Monroe High School and one technology teacher, which would cost $565,000. He also proposed increasing compensation for teachers with masters degrees. The current bonus on top of a teacher’s regular salary is $2,400. Melton proposed raising that to $2,750.

Melton proposed salary adjustments for teachers approaching salary steps 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30. That would cost $1,467,000.

Melton requested nearly $26.4 million from the city’s budget and in City Manager Beverly Cameron’s proposed budget, the school system is fully funded.

The school system requested $350,000 more than the current budget.

Robyn Sidersky: 540/374-5413