School Board hears document service proposal

FRONT ROYAL – Warren County School Board members listened to a presentation on an online document management service at its Wednesday meeting.

Emerald Data Solutions representative Laura Vautour introduced the company’s VSBA BoardDocs Pro service by a presentation over the Internet and phone. The service comprises an online one-stop shop for any School Board agendas, minutes, videos, policies and other public documents.

Vautour said that more than half of Virginia school systems use the service. Director of Finance Rob Ballentine mentioned that when attending the clerk’s conference, it seemed like “we’re the only School Board that doesn’t use it – everyone sitting at the table talks about how great it is.”

In addition to the streamlined ease of access and transparency, Vautour said the metasearch option for school executives that reveals results from other school systems would provide a useful research tool.

Posting the schools’ policy online posed a sizable task that warranted some discussion. Vautour said the schools could hire a temp worker to train and perform that action. Assistant Superintendent for Administration Melody Sheppard said that when she reviewed the policies over winter break, she came across some parts that could use updates, and as she said later, “When it’s done, it’s done.”

Approval of the service will come before the board at its Feb. 3 meeting. It would cost the school a $1,000 start-up fee and $10,200 a year under a three-year contract. Ballentine said that funding would come from savings from worker’s compensation, but there would be an additional $3,000 in hardware costs.

While Ballentine said the system wouldn’t save Warren County Public Schools a significant portion of the budget on the physical printing end of things, it would save faculty members’ time.

“I think the biggest benefit to the school system is the opportunity cost,” he said.

Superintendent Greg Drescher brought up reinstating a regulation in the schools’ system of paid sick days. As teachers that work 200 days in the year acquire 12.5 days of paid sick leave, he brought up that many first-year teachers can run through their days quickly, as well as days that account for life events like family tragedy and having children.

Drescher said the donated sick leave regulation was done away with when some staff members abused the system year after year. While he said he could reinstate the regulation himself as superintendent, he asked for the board’s blessing. As he described it, staff members would be able to use donated paid sick leave from other faculty once in their tenure with Warren County Public Schools.

The School Board unanimously approved some course additions to the 2016-2017 program of studies that needed final approval from the Virginia Department of Education after the Jan. 6 meeting.

Four courses in agriscience and information technology would be introduced to both high schools, as well as a yearlong industrial maintenance technology program for college credit at Lord Fairfax Community College. Director of Secondary Instruction Alan Fox said there’s existing staff who could teach the information technology courses, but the agriscience classes would require hiring a new teacher.

The School Board also unanimously approved the motion to hire the new Warren County Middle School’s principal to take the position starting July 1. The principal would set up the new building with furniture and equipment in place of the $150,000 service from Ballou Justice Upton Architects. Sheppard referenced Drescher as a principal that had to balance furnishing a new school and administrative duties at the same time.

Sheppard recommended that the principal be hired around the spring so that any vacancies created could be advertised for soon after. The new principal would attend building committee meetings.

Budget meetings loom on the horizon, and the board approved advertising for the first public hearing on the 2017 budget at the Feb. 3 meeting, with a snow date of Feb. 17.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com