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2013-08-21 / News

School Board appoints budget advisory committee

By Michael Buettner
NEWS EDITOR

A new committee formed to help the School Board get more bang for its buck is hitting the ground running, holding its first meeting just a week after its initial members were appointed.

The School Board approved creation of a Citizen Budget Advisory Committee in June, but it wasn’t until last week that it named the starting roster for the group, which has a wide-ranging mandate to help the board and school division officials analyze and plan spending.

Andy Hawkins, assistant superintendent for business and finance, said the committee’s first meeting was scheduled for Aug. 20.

School Board Chairman Dave Wyman, who represents the Dale District, welcomed the committee, which he said will be doing “very important work.”

Wyman noted that the Board of Supervisors has had a similar advisory committee for years. The committee will be “looking at not just what we’re doing but what we’re going to be doing in the future. Having some folks from the outside who are kind of built into the process will be very helpful to us.”

The members are:

• Mary Sullins, Bermuda District, a former Chesterfield County Public Schools office assistant and accountant.

• Douglas Harvey, Clover Hill District, assistant executive director for administration and management and CFO of Richmond-based United Network for Organ Sharing and a member of the board of directors of the Virginia BioTechnology Research Partnership Authority.

• Barbara Mait, Dale District, executive director of the nonprofit Rebuilding Together Tri-Cities, a Petersburg-based redevelopment organization.

• Russ Carmichael, Matoaca District, senior financial analyst and associate for finance policy at the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia in Richmond.

• Leslie Haley, Midlothian District, an attorney and former assistant ethics counsel for the Virginia State Bar and president of the Parent Teacher Student Association at Midlothian High School.

• Sam Kaufman, at-large member, a partner in the law firm of Owen & Owens and a past chairman of the Chesterfield Chamber of Commerce and president of the University of Richmond Alumni Association.

• Jim Schultz, at-large member.

The committee’s mandate is to review the school system’s existing strategic plan, financial policies and budget process; review historical spending, staffing and performance data to determine whether resource allocations helped meet priorities and goals; work with school system staff during development of the budget; compare projected revenue and spending with the budget and advise on ways to fix differences; and submit regular reports to the School Board with minutes and recommendations.

In other business

The School Board last week also received a detailed presentation on a proposed overhaul of the system for grading students, including redesigned report cards.

As previously recommended, the new grading will be based on a 10-point system that school officials say will bring the county more in line with standards used by college admissions departments and other Virginia public school systems.

The new report cards will include both numeric scores and letter grades, as well as periodic updates of students’ grade-point averages. They will also include detailed information on attendance, reporting days missed from not only from school but also from each class.

The School Board will hold a “public engagement session” on the plan on Oct. 7 and a public hearing on Nov. 12. Donna Dalton, chief academic officer for the school system, said the School Board will need to take final action on the plan by March.

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