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School calendars amended, adopted in Wise

March 11th, 2014 11:44 pm by Stephen Igo

School calendars amended, adopted in Wise

WISE — Wise County schools will end the current school year on June 5, an amendment to the current school year calendar as adjusted to winter weather closures.

As amended by the Wise County School Board on Tuesday, the school division will keep spring break intact, from March 31 to April 4. The school division has needed to close schools 11 days so far this winter. May 30 and 31 remain graduation dates for the three high schools.

The school board also adopted a calendar for the 2014-15 school year, a blend of a more traditional calendar with a "balanced" approach. Under the calendar adopted Tuesday, teachers will report Aug. 4-5 with the first day of school on Aug. 6. Three teacher flex days will also be included prior to Aug. 4 to prepare classrooms.

The 2014-15 calendar will include a week off for Thanksgiving and three weeks for the Christmas and New Year holiday period, with the last day of classes before winter break on Dec. 19.

Classes would resume Jan. 13 with a full week for spring break set for March 30-April 3.

The end of the school year would be May 22, and a last possible end of the school year at June 12 if needed to adjust for snow day closures.

The board also endorsed a new sick leave policy for new hires only, or those hired after Jan. 1 of this year. The sick leave policy for all existing employees remains unchanged. For new hires the policy is a maximum accumulation of 60 sick days and no sick leave bank, with required long-term and short-term disability covered.

The board approved another installment of an early retirement system, essentially providing $30,000 for certified employees and $15,000 for classified employees as a health insurance bridge. Eligible employees under the 2014 plan must be 50 years of age, have 20 years of Virginia Retirement System (VRS) service and five years service with the county school division, and notify the administration of an intention to accept the early retirement by April 7.

The board also set a public hearing on a proposed 2014-15 budget for 6 p.m. on April 8, with the board's regularly scheduled monthly meeting to convene shortly after the public hearing.

School division Finance Administrator Ron Vicars and Schools Superintendent Jeff Perry provided a rundown of a proposed budget on Tuesday with state funding particulars still in limbo as a result of an impasse in Richmond over Medicaid expansion.

Many budgetary details are known, however, including a 15 percent hike in VRS rates and another 3 or 4 percent hike in health insurance costs. Perry said some ill-informed school personnel spread a rumor last week those increases will translate into an 18 percent cut in pay for employees, but there is no basis of truth to the pay cut rumor.

Besides expected increased expenditures to the VRS and health insurance, the county's new local composite index (LCI) number cuts around $2 million in state funds. Those are realities Vicars and Perry said the proposed budget is built to absorb in one way or another --- such as via the early retirement incentive as a means to save dollars --- but an employee pay cut is not and has never been a part of any budgetary strategy.

The school division may not be able to give a raise, Perry said, because of budget constraints, particularly the LCI.

"Guys, I think as you can see, if not for the LCI we could have given our folks a decent raise," Perry said. But the school division can and will protect base pay, he said, and absorb the VRS increase.

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