Uncategorized

Coles District

Community Input

I believe transparency in any process is the key to creating a sense of trust which in return builds confidence and ensures successful outcomes for all involved.  Community input should be encouraged and PWCS must work collaboratively with the public to ensure they feel part of the process.  Communication in writing, via email, video or social media about upcoming issues, meetings and planning sessions are key, as well as websites & video addresses from the Board and the Superintendent to the public containing pertinent information or addressing hot topics are helpful. In addition, PWCS should provide various platforms for the community to voice their opinions via meetings, emails, surveys, electronic responses etc…..

Relationship with our BOCS

  1. How would you characterize the relationship between the Prince William Board of County Supervisors and the School Board?
  • In an ideal world the two would work in a symbiotic relationship with the Revenue Agreement.  They work together to create the strategic plan and set challenging but equitable goals for PWCS through collaborative efforts on the Joint CIP Committee and other task forces.  “The general responsibilities of the Committee are to review and direct work of staff, approve communications to each Board, solicit feedback from each Board, and provide recommendations for joint capital actions to achieve shared goals of Schools and County.”
  • The Superintendent, PWCS Board and the BOCS unanimously passed the most aggressive budget present in years.  Clearly at times they are all on the same page and want a competitive school system in PWCS.  They need to trust each other in that they all have the best interest in mind for the county.
    • “The budget, which takes effect on July 1, includes about $578.8 million for Prince William County Public Schools (PWCS). As part of the revenue sharing agreement, the county funds 57 percent of the school system’s budget.”

My concern is that BOCS is a political entity, school board is supposed to be non-partisan.  I do have to wonder how much politics does play in school board decision making due to contributions and political influence from the BOCS and other political positions in the State.  We clearly know who are the board are endorsed by which political party.  Does this truly contribute to a non-partisan school board?

Management of Schools

  1. What do you see as the pros and cons of site-based management?

PROS of site based management

  • The administrative staff can tailor fit their budget to meet the dynamic needs of their specific community.  They can implement changes that transform teaching and learning to fit their population. The power over their budget, staffing, and curriculum are in the hands of site-based decision-makers.
  • The principal is able to simultaneously lead and share power and responsibility with site based staff who are better able to make decisions with local needs in mind.
  • Decision making moves quickly instead of waiting for it to pass through the bureaucratic decision making process in a centralized school system. 
  • In a centralized school system employees and students may feel  “part of the machine” rather than a valued individual in the organization with a one size fits all approach to teaching and learning. 
  • The administrative staff can select employment candidates that ‘fit’ their building culture.
  • Stake holders feel more empowered in the decision making process as far as the unique needs of their academic environment.

CONS of site based management

  • De-centralizing school management leaves much open to interpretation of policy and procedure which leaves the school system vulnerable in management.  Interpretation for following policy and procedure can differ from site to site causing discrepancy in services for students across the county.
  • A more centralized structure can help organizations control costs, quality, efficiency, messaging, and overall operations.  In particular, budget effectiveness can vary from site to site causing equity issues across a county. 
  • Administrators can be held accountable to their staff and the community for the way they allocate funds which can create conflicts between the teachers and the administrator if they have differences in views of how money should be spent. Centralizing the budget system will remove the conflict between these parties.
  • There are school based sites that have a lot of community involvement as part of the site based management; there are others that lack parental and/or staff involvement so are all the stake holders REALLY involved? How does site-based management create a sense of community in schools that draw from a large geographic area, as do most secondary schools; and in schools in districts with choice? Parents and staff at such schools may not have access to transportation or time to participate in school decision making.

Revenue Sharing Agreement

  1. What do you see as the pros and cons of the Revenue Sharing Agreement between the Prince William County Schools and the Board of Supervisors?

PROS

  • “The division has a revenue sharing agreement where the county agreed to allocate 57.23 percent of the county’s general revenues.”  The majority of the county’s budget is directed to PWCS. 
  • A robust year in the county means a robust budget for the school system. 
  • Our School Board can count on a certain amount of funding each year based on this agreement.
  • The 5 Year Strategic Plan creates standards for the school system to maintain in order to receive the funding for example:
    • By 2016 the high school graduation rate will increase from 88% to

90%.

  • By 2016 the percentage of students scoring at an advanced

Standards of Learning (SOL) level in each subject area will increase from 25% to 50%.

  • By 2016 the percentage of graduates passing one or more advanced

exam (Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or

Cambridge) will increase from 31% to 40%.

  • By 2016 the percentage of graduates with a Governors, Career and

Technical Education, Advanced Mathematics and Technology, or Civic Seal will increase from 46% to 65%.

  • By 2016 the number of dual enrollment (PWCS/NVCC) students will

increase to more than the baseline of 301.

  • By 2016 the ratio of National Board Certified Teachers to students will

increase from 1:701 to 1:500.

  • By 2016 the percentage of accredited schools will be 100%, even

with changes in the accreditation standards.

  • By 2016 the average elementary school classroom size will decrease

to less than the baseline of 23.2 students per classroom.

  • By 2016 the average middle school classroom size will decrease to

less than the baseline of 30.7 students per classroom.

  • By 2016 the average high school classroom size will decrease to less

than the baseline of 29.7 students per classroom.

CONS

  • If PWCS requires more money allotted for education to help them remain competitive with surrounding districts PWCS has to provide justification and are the mercy of the BOCS decision to make adjustments to the funding. 
  • The funding can vary from time period to time period.
  • If there are county shortfalls or the county encounters fiscal hard times, that 57% of general funds is impacted greatly.
  • Lean years mean inadequate funding as we have seen in the past.
  • What if the educational outcomes are not met? Does the PWCS still receive the allocated funds?