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Weekly Meeting Roundup 4/17: We sit through hours of meetings, you get info in minutes

County government really likes meetings, they have LOTS of meetings. But who can attend them all? BTW will spend hours a week at meetings so you can spend minutes getting only the important details. We want to make it easy for the public to stay abreast of what is happening in our county.

School Board Meeting 4/11

The SB had a very busy agenda last week, the meeting was 3 hours long! Aquia Rep. Irene Egan was not in attendance due to a health issue.

Elementary School Redistricting: A lot was said about this at the meeting. Additionally, I have spoken personally to two SB reps and a very involved FES parent regarding the issue. Look for a full write-up this evening.

Change of Transportation Designation: There was discussion regarding the change of two different neighborhoods to walking school zones, Courthouse Manor and Spartan Oaks. This change would eliminate the need to send buses on these roads and is being considered due to the close proximity of the homes to the schools. No action was taken on either matter.

Career and Technical Education 2017-18 Budget Approval: The SB heard the CTE plans for the upcoming school year, which have not changed much from this year and approved the budget.

Review of Program Plans: Presentations were made by the Special Education and Head Start departments. Rock Hill Rep Patricia Healy was effusive in her praise for those responsible for running our Stafford County program, which is among the best in the country.

Amendment to Student Transfer Policy 2103: This isn't really a change in policy but more an official clarification of current procedure. Specifically, high school students applying to access a multi-year, half-day program not offered at their base school may not be allowed full transfer to the receiving school. For example, a student who travels from MVHS to NSHS to participate in the Governor's School program, which only requires a half-day at North, would not be able to receive a full-day transfer to North for this reason alone. This doesn't represent a change in practice but SCPS felt a clarification was needed in the written policy.

Employee Insurance Rates for 2018: Good news for SCPS employees, insurance rates for health, dental and vision will not be increasing next year .

Approve Job Classifications/Salary Scales Associated with the Reorganization of the Department of Learning and Organization Development: The entire Department of Instruction has had a major overhaul and now has the new designation listed above. There are accompanying changes in staffing positions and salaries in the department, this agenda item addresses them. The SB voted to approve these changes.

Hampton Oaks Elementary Roof Repair: This project is a high priority and will likely be done over the summer. Bids have been received but no action was taken at this meeting.

2017 Summer School Program: A presentation was given regarding summer school programs offered, costs associated and budgeting. High school summer school begins June 26th at BPHS and NSHS, middle school and elementary summer school begins July 17th.

Board of Supervisors Meeting 4/18

Another busy meeting with lots of big decisions made. All Supervisors were in attendance.

Roadwork/Parks and Rec Updates: Progress is being made on the various road projects happening around the county. Garrisonville Road is moving along well with most of the major utilities finishing their work. Brook Road should see the beginning of construction this summer. Novec will begin it's potion of work at the intersection of Poplar and Mountain View this week.

Embrey Mill Park Phase 2 development is moving quickly with installation of synthetic turf fields and accompanying parking lot happening this week. The restroom building is almost complete.

3rd Quarter Budget Review: The good news here is that the county operated under budget for the quarter. Projections are that 1% of budget savings will be able to be placed in the Capital Reserves fund by the end of the 2017 fiscal year.

2017 Tax Rates: BoS approved the rates with a small change to the Merchant's Capital tax from .50 to .38. Also, the Personal Property Tax rate was reduced by .04 cents.

2017-18 Budget: BoS approved the budget with one vote against by Mr. Cavalier. A notable change to the budget before approval redirected an additional 300K of funds to SCPS. This does not come anywhere close to bridging the 5.9 million dollar gap in the SCPS budget request. This means the schools will need to make some revisions to their plans, it will be interesting to see how this shortfall will be approached by Dr. Benson and crew.

One topic of discussion, and the reason for Mr. Cavalier's vote against the budget, rests with the 700K allotment to the Purchase of Development Rights program (PDR.) Mr. Cavalier believed this was too much when other needs take higher priority. Chairman Milde defended the program, stating that it's our main weapon to keep all of Stafford's open farm lands from turning into a sea of suburban sprawl.

Capital Improvements Plan 2018-2027: The new CIP incorporates school projects and county projects into "one bucket, they are all taxpayer projects", as Ms. Maurer described it. Unfortunately, this incorporation means that all of these projects need to go through a prioritization process, so none have a definitive timeframe for completion expressly spelled out in the new CIP. While I believe that the BoS is on board with the concept of the new, combined CIP, 3 votes against were logged by Ms. Boemke, Mr. Snellings and Mr. Thomas. All 3 expressed concerns that by not defining certain projects, like the Hartwood Elementary renovation or the new courthouse, there could be problems down the line if the prioritization metric doesn't place them high up on the list. The new CIP was approved.

Legislative Report from Congressman Rob Whittman: Congressman Whittman spoke for about 45 minutes to update the BoS of issues in front of Congress that may affect our area. If you are interested in his remarks, please click the link HERE.

Enjoy the remainder of your Spring Break!!