Roanoke County schools have just issued the following statement in regard to the controversy over the county’s alternative ed program moving from Vinton to Cave Spring. We had an another post earlier today on the county exploring other options.
STATEMENT CONCERNING R.E. COOK ALTERNATIVE PROGRAM
School board is considering additional options
ROANOKE – Roanoke County School Board Chairman Drew Barrineau released the following statement today:
“The 2009-10 budget reflects operating revenue reductions of $7 million. In addition to those reductions, the Roanoke County School Board made a $1million cash payment to the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors to assist them in balancing their budget when the local tax revenues collected were lower than the amount previously shared with the schools.
In early July 2009, Governor Kaine asked his department heads to prepare a list consisting of 5, 10 and 15-percent budget reductions due to lower than expected state revenues. Based on that information and our recent experience with a similar request last year, the school board decided to immediately plan for the following:
· A possible reduction in state funding for the current year
· A possible reduction in the current county transfer to Roanoke County Public Schools
· A reduction of an additional $7million in operating revenue for 2010-11
· The elimination of the $3.8million of stimulus funding in 2011-12
Recently, Governor Kaine announced the need to reduce the current state budget by $1.5 billion. We are expecting to hear in a few weeks or so the amount of the reductions in K-12 funding.
Like last year, the school board’s priorities are to:
(1) Maintain the instructional integrity in the classroom and
(2) Try to avoid lay-offs of our full-time employees.
Thus, based upon all the information we know at this time, it is incumbent on the school board to act quickly to seek greater operating efficiencies and identify any opportunity to reduce our current operating budget. The savings that we realize, although painful as it may be to implement, will give us additional funds to meet the expected revenue reductions. The funds we save now may allow us to avoid implementing the Reduction in Force (RIF) policy next year.
Since Bedford County indicated to us that they plan to pull out of the joint regional alternative education program at R.E. Cook, it became evident to us the program would no longer be feasible without some structural changes.
Temporarily moving the program to Cave Spring High School will not only enhance the program offered to the students but will provide substantial operating savings to Roanoke County Public Schools.
Dr. Lange and Mr. Minnix recently met with the Cave Spring community to discuss moving the program from R.E. Cook to Cave Spring High School. Dr. Lange indicated at that meeting that the move was not considered a permanent one and that alternative programs were being evaluated.
We can announce this evening, that a number of outside entities have expressed interest in this alternative education program since the July 23rd meeting. Roanoke County Public Schools employees have been in discussions with the interested parties to explore the possible enhancement of the alternative program.
Based on those discussions, Roanoke County Public Schools will put out a RFP next week to see if an alternative placement of the program is feasible. The vote taken on July 23rd that moved the alternative program from R.E. Cook to Cave Spring High School still stands. It is my opinion that for the school board to consider moving the alternative program from Cave Spring High School to an alternate placement, two things must be realized.
(1) The alternate program must meet the instructional needs of our students
(2) It must realize savings in addition to those that will be recognized by moving the program from R.E. Cook to Cave Spring High School.
Ultimately, that is a decision the entire board will make once the bids are received in September.
I would like to address one of the concerns that I have read in a few of the e-mails sent to me.
It is that changing the agenda on July 23 was underhanded and was meant to avoid public scrutiny – If that was the case, the school board would have directed the Superintendent to make this change administratively. Rather, the agenda was amended and a vote was taken and made public. Due to the magnitude of the possible revenue shortfall, the school board decided to act quickly to realize the operational savings. Our minutes are widely disseminated and readily available online via Board Docs or by asking the School Board Clerk.”