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Weekly Meeting Roundup 4/24: 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 spends 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 4/25

All SB members were in attendance, Irene Egan attended via phone.

-Elementary School Redistricting: The SB voted to approve Option 3 in the elementary school redistricting effort. This moves approximately 65 students in The Manor at England Run neighborhood from MBES to FES. For a full breakdown of the discussion regarding redistricting at the meeting, click the link here.

-Spartan Oaks to Walking Neighborhood: The SB voted unanimously to change the Spartan Oaks neighborhood to a walking zone, meaning school buses will not drive the route. Aquia Rep Irene Egan made some comments regarding the change. She wanted her constituents to know that the neighborhood was a by-right development, meaning the county had no say regarding it's infrastructure. While the builder had agreed to install sidewalks, they did not do so. This means that students walking to Stafford Middle and Brook Point might have to navigate unpleasant terrain in snow and rain. The SB will monitor the issue to see if this is a problem for students in the next school year.

-Hampton Oaks Roof Repair Bid: The SB approved the bid for the roof repairs unanimously.

-Update to High School StudentTransfer Policy: SCPS wanted to shore up the language in the transfer policy to make it clear that students transferring into half day programs (like the Governor's School) are not also granted transfer to the host school for the full day. The SB approved this change unanimously.

-NSHS Library Renovation Funding: The SB approved the bid to renovate the library so that construction can be completed before the next school year begins. There was some concern that the bid was 600K higher than predicted by the cost estimators. Assistant Superintendent Scott Horan could not explain why the estimate was so far off but he characterized it as a "big miss" and "disappointing." They are trying to get feedback on the issue. Rockhill Rep Patricia Healy is very concerned and questions how these estimates will affect expenditures down the line. Work begins on the library on May 15th.

-End of Year Infrastructure Projects: Mr. Horan also presented the list of infrastructure projects to the SB in order of importance. To see the list of improvements, click here, to see the scoring criteria, click here.

It is Mr. Horan's hope that the first 9 projects on the list can be funded by end-of-year savings, expected to be around 2 million. The SB approved the first 6 projects, assuming funding from savings can be procured.

-SCPS 2017-18 Budget Changes: The Board of Supervisors approved their budget and while they did allot a slight increase in funds to go to SCPS, the extra 300K was no where near the 5.9 million needed to cover the SCPS budget for SY 2017-18. Find the detailed list of all three options by clicking the link HERE. The SB were presented with three different scenarios to approach the gap, here are a few of the important changes:

Scenario 1:

- makes some cuts to new positions,

- get rid of 1% COLA (this means no raise for teachers)

- only 9 new purchased buses instead of 15

- some cyclic replacement technology cuts

- this scenario gets the funding gap to 0

Scenario 2:

- maintains entire 1% cola

- eliminates pay scale enhancements

- similar cuts to new positions

- additional cuts in cyclic technology replacement

- replacement buses down to 6

- this scenario leaves a 526K gap, meaning more cuts would need to be found by the board

Scenario 3:

-Reduces 1% COLA to 1/2%

- some service pay-scale enhancement retained,

- similar cute to new positions

- similar cuts to cyclic technology replacement as above

- replacement buses down to 6

- this scenario leaves 450K

This is a tough situation for the SB, no doubt. However, I did get a message from a SCPS teacher who prefers to remain anonymous. She stated the following, "One of my friends, a middle school math teacher, went to an interview with Arlington County last week and one of the assistant principals doing the interview chuckled and said she was his 17th interview from Stafford since they came back from spring break." She also said a colleague of her's has accepted a job in Prince William and is getting a 13K salary increase. Scary words, the last thing we need is for one of our most valuable assets, our teaching force, to leave the county in droves due to low pay. I would highly suggest to the SB that they not eliminate the small 1% COLA and SCPS in general to realize that we are, indeed, competing with our neighbors to the north.

Planning Commission Meeting 4/26

All planning commission members were in attendance

-Sycamore Grove Reclassification: This proposal would bring a 170 new homes and 150K square feet of commercial space to the area along Route 1 by Centreport Parkway. The area is very close to the Stafford Airport and would be in the air space of many small plane flights. The area is also in a potential flood zone for 3 different area dams. Many on the commission were concerned about these issues and rightly denied this application unanimously.

-Falmouth Village Commercial Reclassification: This proposal would change a small 1.5 acre parcel on Carter Street in Falmouth to a commercial lot, available for convenience store/restaurant use. After some discussion about traffic concerns, the commission passed the reclassification unanimously.

-Zoning Amendment to Clarify Lighting Standards for Residential Property: Apparently, there have been some complaints from residents that lighting from neighboring properties was intrusive but since county standards were a bit unclear, enforcement has been difficult. This issue was deferred to the May 10th meeting in order to gather more research.

-Falmouth Redevelopment Overlay District: According to this county document, "the purpose of the FR is to provide suitable and sufficient opportunities for redevelopment through new construction and reuse of existing buildings, while maintaining the historic nature and cultural context of the Falmouth area of the County". Click here for a map of the overlay district. The PC recommended adding some additional prohibited business uses from the area, like a rental car facility. The PC moved to put this issue to public hearing.