Bedford County college board, administration put together for price range season | Schooling
As Bedford County Public Schools’ board and administration begin crafting a budget for the coming year, the school board heard feedback from parents and community members, as well as results of a pay and classification study to consider in financial planning.
Four people spoke at Thursday’s board meeting, sharing what they want the school board and staff to prioritize in budgeting.
William Crumpacker, father of students at Liberty High School, asked the board to consider fully funding tuition and related expenses for high school students wishing to enroll in the Career and Technical Education Academy through Central Virginia Community College, where they can obtain certification in a trade or professional training and enter the workforce after graduation.
Crumpacker’s oldest son took a welding class his sophomore year and realized he would likely rather enter the workforce that pursue a four-year college degree. He applied for and was accepted to the dual enrollment program at the CTE Academy, but the tuition fees, plus costs for textbooks and other materials required for the program, were too expensive for the family at about $1,500 for the semester.
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Speaking with CTE Academy coordinators with Amherst, Campbell, and Appomattox county public schools, Crumpacker said he learned Amherst and Campbell counties have a set number of available spots for students to complete these programs at no cost, and Appomattox County offers $800 per student enrolled in the CTE Academy. Bedford County, he said, told his family they can only cover costs for required textbooks related to the program. Because his son was not a college student, the Crumpacker family was not eligible for grants or federal student aid such as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, according to the financial aid office at CVCC.
“There is a need in our community for skilled workers to help supplement the workforce, and there are high school students like my son who want this kind of training and education, and to be able to fill that need right out of high school. However, the associated costs of the program is preventing them from doing so,” Crumpacker said.
The school board and staff, as well as the Bedford County Board of Supervisors, previously have discussed interest in promoting more workforce training opportunities such as those through the CTE Academy.
Other speakers asked the board to prioritize bringing all teachers pay up to competitive rates wherever there are deficiencies, emphasizing the important service teachers offer and how many teachers recently have taken on additional responsibilities, such as driving buses and working in cafeterias in the midst of staffing shortages.
Mary Katherine Bennett, who has students in Bedford County schools, also suggested the board consider ways to further fund resources for special-needs students. As a special-needs parent, whose child sees occupational and speech therapists through Bedford County, Bennett said she appreciated the special-needs resources the school system currently offers but would like to see it expanded if possible.
Additionally, Bennett said she was thankful for the extra teachers hired on a limited contract basis with Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act money, and asked the board to find a way to retain them even after CARES funding and the conditional contracts expire.
The school board also heard the results of a compensation and classification study conducted by Management Advisory Group International, Inc.
The study examined where Bedford County public schools stood among other Central Virginia school systems in terms of pay for teacher and various support positions. Some positions were found to be at competitive rates, but others came in below the mark.
While teachers with bachelor’s degrees and five to 10 years of experience were found to be at, or slightly above, the current market rate, teachers with bachelor’s degrees and 15 to 20 years of experience were found to be deficient in compensation by 4.1% to 6.1 %.
Support positions with non-competitive salary ranges included special education and adaptive aid positions are about 26% below market level; school guidance counselors, 18% below market level; attendance clerk positions at 8% below market level; and IT tech positions at 9% below market level.
The school system would have to budget about $4.7 million to bring all deficiently compensated positions up to competitive market levels in the Central Virginia region, according to the study results.
The first budget work session is scheduled for March 17.
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