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Approval of Minutes 2-25-19 Meeting

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MINUTES

REGULAR MEETING OF THE ALLEGHANY COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD

February 25, 2019

 

The Alleghany County School Board held its regular meeting on February 25, 2019, at 6:00 p.m. at the Central Office Complex in Low Moor, Virginia.

 

PRESENT: Gerald E. Franson; R. Craig Lane; Jennifer S. Seckner, Vice Chairwoman; and Randall S. Tucker, Chairman.  Also present: Eugene P. Kotulka, Superintendent; Mary Jane Mutispaugh, Deputy Clerk; and Patrick Andriano, Attorney.

 

Student representative:  Eddie Meadows

 

ABSENT:   Donnie T. Kern; Danielle I. Morgan; and Jacob Wright

 

Chairman Tucker called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m.  The call to order was followed by a moment of silence and the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.

 

Chairman Tucker announced the following revisions to the agenda:

1. Removal of 19-174-Recognition of School Board Clerk/Deputy Clerk Appreciation Week

2. Addition of F. to the Consent Agenda-Minutes of January 8, 2019 Called Meeting and Work Session

3. Addition 19-187 Dee Ann Tickner’s students will be singing for the board before Item 19-175.

4. Addition of 19-190-Email Addressing the Board to be inserted before Item 19-175.

5. Addition of 19-191-Superintendent’s Report on the Kern document inserted before Item 19-175.

6. Addition of 19-192-Document inserted before Item 19-175.

7. Item 19-173-Recognition of School Board Member Appreciation Month will be moved to after 19-175 School Board Member Comments.

 

 

COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION

(19-187-DEE ANN TICKNER’S STUDENTS SINGING 

Ms. Tickner’s IPOP students from Sharon Elementary School sang some selections for the Board.

 

(19-190) EMAIL ADDRESSING THE BOARD

Mr. Tucker shared an email with the Board from Amy Trail.  The email was sent to Dr. Heath and Ms. Trail asked that she share it with the board.  The text is as follows:

 

First and foremost, I want to thank you sincerely for taking time out of your day to speak with me yesterday.  I hope you do understand that all I want to do is to help the children here and that I want to be a resource, if needed by anyone in your area - professionals and parents combined.  

You did touch on yesterday someone saying things about FACES in relation to us coming in to review IEP's, etc... I wanted to explain a little of that to you so you will fully understand.  When I agree to review IEP's as a community service, we do not charge those families for those services but instead only give them information and suggestions but it is appears that sometimes people think we are going to come in and attend meetings and 'fix' things when we have never promised to do that.  But on top of that, it appears that a couple of people in your community got very upset that I would not fix their situations.  I would love to have the time and the money to come and help them all but I can only do what I can with what resources I have available to me.  

 

But there is one individual that found me who's behavior was so outrageous to me that I did not even do their review personally because I could not take another round of his hate speech especially because his a part of the fabric of the district.  He stated to me personally "I do not want my child in the 'retard' room" and because I understand the climate of your area.  I said nothing to him at that time but instead assigned him to another Advocate and did not share this information with her only for him to say it again to her!  So, after that, no, I did not help him and as a matter of fact, I cut him off from any access to me as it was then obvious to me that his mission is not even close to the same as mine.  I am a very understanding person of differences but the one thing I will not tolerate is anything that makes anyone feel less than and it is obvious from his comments he is not for equality of all (even though he has a special needs child).  

Honestly, I even considered having this addressed with the School Board but I do not know them personally, I did not want to get more feedback that lined up with his as it would make me sick.  All children, including ones with intellectual disabilities are valued by me and always will be so having an individual on a school board who is so uneducated about this one subject and the matters that surround having a complex child with severe needs is gross.  

 

I am sorry that I am having to bring this to you but I could no longer carry this nasty around in good conscious without ensuring that something is done to address it because not only did he offend me personally, he also has said this to others including some of the parents he is supposed to be 'serving' and it is discriminatory.  

 

If you need to discuss this more, I would totally understand or if you would like any suggestions, I highly recommend some disability sensitivity training in the district to help him and others with this subject before it explodes.  

 

Thank you for listening, 

Amy 

 

(19-191) SUPERINTENDENT’S REPORT ON THE KERN DOCUMENT

Mr. Kotulka gave an extensive response to items in the Kern document sent to state officials and the Alleghany County Board of Supervisors noting that to date $21,591 has been spent for attorneys and 225 man hours have been utilized in collecting documentation.

 

Members of the Board, this is Alleghany County Public School’ response to Mr. Kern’s document dated December 11, 2018.  The document was sent to Gary T. Shuttle, Superintendent of State Police, Martha Mavredes, CPA, Auditor of Public Accounts, and Michael Westfall, State Inspector General.  Mr. Kern has also had a conversation with Gena Keller, Assistant Superintendent, Virginia Department of Education, and Dr. James Lane, Superintendent of Public Instruction for Virginia.  The Virginia Department of Education requested a copy of Mr. Kern’s document.  Mr. Kern did not provide the document to VDOE.  I provided VDOE the document.

 

I ask the Board to bear with me as I review Mr. Kern’s document with its innuendo, false statements and false assumption:

 

  1. 1. Mr. Kern stated in his opening remarks “….theft of assets.  As this has yet to be revealed to me, however it would not surprise me if it is occurring.” – Mr. Kern has accused over 300 employees of stealing assets from ACPS.  His assumption and statement is false and among ACPS staff there is now a distrust of Mr. Kern and his motives for being on the Board

     

  2. Negative Year-End Fund 1 Operating Balance of $36K.  – The Fiscal Year 2018 actual year-end revenues for Fund 1 – School Operating of $26,967,204.07 equaled actual year-end expenditures for a zero variance. Mr. Kern only compared budgeted expenditures to actual expenditures and did not include revenues. Of the total actual expenditures of $26,967,204.07, $120,969.79 was fund transfers to JRGS and JRTC for funds that we receive on their behalf as fiscal agent. An additional $846,007.11 was year-end fund balance transferred to Fund 10 – School Capital. Since the fund transfers are not expenditures (as substantiated by our auditing firm) we did not exceed the amount appropriated to us ($26,930,361) by the Board of Supervisors. The above referenced amounts may be verified via the FY2018 revenues and expenditures statements posted to the school division’s website under Finance.

     

  3. ACPS Fund Balances have not been audited. Only individual activity funds of the individual schools and the cafeteria fund have been audited.  – The auditing firm of Robinson, Farmer, Cox Associates audits all of our division-level funds every year. Our audit is included as part of the County of Alleghany’s audit and is presented within the total county audit as Discretely Presented Component Unit - School Board. The results of the audit are presented to the School Board annually and hard copies of the audit document are provided to each member. The Fiscal Year 2017 audit, the most recent available, was presented to the School Board on March 19, 2018. The audit had no findings or recommendations for the School Board and provided the auditor’s opinion that the county ended the year in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America. 

     

  4. Request for specific positions that went unfilled in the unexpended Class Room Instruction Funds in the Operating Fund-01 as well as $120K (approximate) unexpended substitute wages year-end.  – A previous superintendent requested that the finance director provide a macro synopsis related to the contributors to the year-end fund balance rather than just providing the year-end line item revenues and expenditures reports. The current director has endeavored to provide such over the years whereas other finance directors did not. It bears mentioning that the year-end fund balance is generated as a result of net favorable variance in revenues and expenditures across all accounts, and that a simplistic synopsis of this interconnection is what it is.

     

    On the Fiscal Year 2018 Memorandum for the Year End Fund Balance Transfer, it was noted that the primary contributors to the fund balance included a favorable variance of $84,705.01 in substitute employees and $487,970.86 in wages and benefits. A footnote related to the wages and benefits amount stated that “this was a combination of budgeted positions that were not filled during the fiscal year, budgeted positions that were modified or changed, replacement benefit, pre-taxed employee benefits impact to FICA expense, and lower health insurance expense.” The $487,970.86 amount was comprised of all wage and benefit expenditure accounts, not just “Class Room Instruction Funds.” Subsequent to Mr. Kern’s request for a list of positions, the finance director prepared and provided such. That is not a document that is typically created.

     

  5. Over the course of 90 days and six different requests for these details was given three different excuses... - Mr. Kern’s statement is a false.  He was provided the information several times and he chose to ignore the information provided to him.

     

  6. The unfilled positions were related to $250K (approximate)-3 speech language pathologists.  – During FY 2018 we were only able to hire a half-time speech language pathologist, but we had three budgeted positions. We contracted with Soliant Health and Presence Learning to provide speech services in lieu of the 2.5 positions we were unable to fill. Total expenditures for this service were $237,167.30.  The speech language positions were contracted through a private service.  This has been explained to Mr. Kern multiple times and he has chosen to ignore it.

     

  7. The past 4 year-end fund balance reports, which all have enormous surpluses that include unfilled/vacant positions and excess substitute teach funds. – Fiscal Year 2018 was addressed previously.

     

    The year-end fund balance for Fiscal Year 2017 was $967,907.10 and included $388,339 in one-time enrollment loss funding that the General Assembly had approved as part of its FY2018 budget process but opted to pay to qualified school divisions in Fiscal Year 2017. This funding was subsequently earmarked for the New Tech Network partnership as approved by the School Board and appropriated by the Board of Supervisors. Other primary contributors were $189,713.71 in unexpended textbook funds that were transferred to Fund 2 – Textbooks and $346,671.59 related to wages and benefits that was transferred to Fund 10 – School Capital. A footnote related to the wages and benefits amount stated that this was “a combination of budgeted positions that were not filled during the fiscal year, replacement benefit, lower substitute employee utilization, and lower health insurance participation.

     

                The Fiscal Year 2016 year-end fund balance was $533,997.36 with the primary contributors         being unexpended textbook funds of $121,875.10 that were transferred to Fund 2 – Textbooks, additional Medicaid Reimbursement of $80,505.24 that was transferred to Fund 11 – Medicaid           Reimbursement, unexpended substitute and overtime payroll compensation of $126,188.02      transferred to Fund 10 – School Capital, and $205,429.00 in position vacancies/replacement   benefit that was transferred to Fund 10 – School Capital.

     

                The Fiscal Year 2015 fund balance was $1,150,690.59. The finance director in place at that time did not provide a breakout of primary contributors to the year-end fund balance. Subsequent to    the year-end close the new superintendent, Gene Kotulka, and the new finance director, Keven         Rice, recommended returning $280,686.68 to the county which the School Board approved and            the Board of Supervisors accepted.

     

                Finally, having a year-end fund balance is desirable, and our fund balances are not          excessive. The Government Finance Officers Association recommends a minimum unrestricted   fund balance of two months of operating expenditures (and 45 days for enterprise funds).

     

  8. A new vehicle that was purchased was classified incorrectly into the Operating Fund-01 versus expensing to the Capital Fund-10. – The expenditure related to the purchase of a pick-up truck for the Maintenance Department was classified correctly and was posted to account Capital Outlay/Replacement. There is no requirement that all capital expenditures for the division be coded to Fund 10. Fund 10 was established, as approved by the School Board and Board of Supervisors, to provide future funding for major capital outlay and unanticipated emergencies via accumulation of year-end operating fund balances. Major capital outlay includes, but is not limited to, items from the Capital Improvement Plan such as roof replacements and infrastructure upgrades. Funds that were accumulated in Fund 10 were used to help pay for the approximately $6,000,000 HVAC and electrical renovations to Alleghany High School that were completed in 2014. The County of Alleghany is one of very few localities in Virginia that enjoy this type of cooperation and best business practice between a school board and the governing/appropriating body.

     

  9. There is other suspect invoicing such as the purchase of a $3K ice machine that should have been expensed to Capital Fund-10. – The previous response addresses this. Also, Alleghany County Public Schools follows the capital outlay threshold of the Commonwealth of Virginia which is $5,000.

     

  10. The statement by the finance director that the ACPS individual funds are audited is false as evidenced by the 2017 Alleghany County audit report. – Representatives of Robinson, Farmer, Cox Associates spend multiple days on site during the auditing process. We are required to provide them with detailed revenue, expenditure, and general ledger information for all division-level funds and this information is incorporated into the final audit for the County of Alleghany. The firm is required to conduct their audit in compliance with standards established by the Virginia Auditor of Public Accounts (in addition to accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America) and submit a copy of said audit to the Virginia Auditor of Public Accounts.

     

  11. The school uses a cash basis of accounting which the auditor mentioned was not generally accepted under GASB/GAAP. – Alleghany County Public Schools, like the vast majority of school divisions in Virginia, operates on the cash basis of accounting but reports on the modified accrual basis. This is an acceptable and, some would argue, preferable method for public school divisions, especially given the practice of closing the fiscal year on June 30. The county also records our transactions on the cash basis and reports on the modified accrual basis. As previously noted the Fiscal Year 2017 audit included the auditor’s opinion that the county (which includes Discretely Presented Component Unit - School Board) ended the year in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America.

     

    With regard to the school activity funds, the cash basis of accounting is the standard method for presenting this information even though this does require a statement in the audit that the cash basis is a basis of accounting other than accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America. Our school division has historically reported on the cash basis. The auditing firm of Robinson, Farmer, Cox Associates is not aware of other school divisions, including very large divisions in northern Virginia, that report their school activity funds on the full accrual or modified accrual basis; they report on the cash basis as do we. This is due primarily to the challenge of requiring school-level bookkeepers to maintain their records on an accrual basis. We can, of course, expend additional funds through the use of contracted services or enhanced staffing to report on the accrual basis should the School Board so desire. 

     

  12. This corroborates the reason why at year-end there seems to be very high unspent substitute wage expenditure. FY2018 was $120K (approximate) and FY2017 was 80K (approximate). – The FY2018 favorable variance in substitute wage expenditure was $82,955. For Fiscal Year 2017, the favorable variance was $88,016. These amounts are for all substitute categories including bus driver substitutes. The lack of substitutes to fill openings does contribute to the favorable variance. Recognizing the favorable variance we have realized the past two years, our initial budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2020 includes reducing substitute payroll lines by $50,000 (exclusive of FICA).

     

  13. $5,200 deposit for Requested Financial Information - Mr. Kern’s request for information was estimated to be over 5000 copies and 190 man hours to search, put collate and copy the information requested.  Mr. Kern is and was invited monthly to review all current invoices.  He was also invited to view the requested documents.  Mr. Kern has chosen not to do either.

     

  14. Closed Session – the School Board will not investigate anything. – Mr. Kern supposedly received a complaint from an anonymous source that a student was going to be placed in in-school suspension for approximately 3 months.  Mr. Kern would not share any further information with me or with the Board.  Again his statement is false and he has chosen to ignore the facts.  The student was being provided extra assistance called “Wrap around services” and is currently being successful in school.  Mr. Kern stated that Mr. Tucker, Chairman of the Board, said that the School Board wasn’t going to investigate anything.   Mr. Tucker explained to Donne Kern that it was the administration’s job to do the investigation and not the Board’s responsibility.  Unhappy with the School Board’s decision, Mr. Kern then filed a complaint with child protective services against two administrators for abuse the child by providing “wrap around services”.  CPS personnel would not investigate the case.

     

    Mr. Kern also wanted to review personnel files.  Our School Board attorney advised Mr. Kern and the School Board that personnel files should only to be reviewed when the Board needs to make a decision and then review with caution.  The Board decided not to review the files.  Mr. Kern was not satisfied and unhappy with that decision as he wanted to review the personnel files.

     

  15. During each meeting Mr. Tucker has belittled me publically…. – At no time did Mr. Tucker belittle Mr. Kern. Mr. Kern statement is a false.  In fact all School Board members have attempted to assist Mr. Kern understand School Board, policy, operations, and responsibilities.  Again Mr. Kern has chosen to ignore his fellow Board members assistance and their advice.

     

  16. SUP explained to me that when preparing budgets, they do an average of the prior two years when assigning expenditures. As you will see, this budget methodology doesn’t exist with the majority of financial information I will present. – The comment was never said.  Our practice has been to budget by exception. For example, for the Fiscal Year 2020 budget, we will budget the same amounts by expenditure code as we budgeted for the current fiscal year and then adjust the applicable expenditure codes based upon the expenditure increases and decreases approved by the School Board in our final proposed budget. The director of finance has communicated to the superintendent that, if more reductions become necessary, we could budget non-contracted salary and benefit accounts based on a three year average. There are pitfalls associated with this model, but it is an option.

     

  17. $904,275.55 has been fraudulently appropriated from the Alleghany County Board of Supervisors since 2015. – This statement is false and no funds have been fraudulently appropriated from the Alleghany County Board of Supervisors. Mr. Kern arrived at this amount by adding together the alleged negative operating balances for Fiscal Year 2016 (-$540,464.63), Fiscal Year 2017 (-$326,967.85), and Fiscal Year 2018 (-$36,843.07). For each of these years, as evidenced by the associated revenue and expenditure statements, year-end revenues equaled year-end expenditures for a balance of zero. However, if you look at the expenditure statements only, they do reflect that the actual expenditures exceeded the budgeted/appropriated amount. The total actual “expenditures” include year-end fund balance that is transferred to either Fund 2 – Textbooks, Fund 10 – School Capital, or Fund 11 – Medicaid Reimbursement as authorized by School Board Policy DAA. The School Board approved, via resolution, this policy/procedure for handling year-end fund balance on January 24, 2011, and the Board of Supervisors approved their related resolution on March 1, 2011. These year-end fund balances are transfers; they are not expenditures, as confirmed by our auditing firm. As such, the Fund 1 – School Operating appropriation was not exceeded in any of those years. Also included in the year-end expenditure totals are fund transfers to Jackson River Governor’s School (JRGS) and Jackson River Technical Center (JRTC) for funds that we receive on their behalf as fiscal agent. They are also not expenditures.

     

    For Fiscal Year 2015, Mr. Kern states that the information is missing and that there was no disclosure of financial statements. The current finance director was not present during Fiscal Year 2015 and, as such, is not aware of the issue to which Mr. Kern refers. The financial statements are always available through the school division’s financial management system. They were also provided to, and incorporated by, the auditors as evidenced by a non-qualified audit for Fiscal Year 2015.

     

  18. GASB Statement 54 and generally accepted accounting principles allows the operating fund to have a negative balance. However, the assigned funds within the general operating fund may not. These balances are required to be zeroed-out, once these assigned funds with negatives are zeroed-out then any unexpended funds can be carried over to other school funds as policies directs. – Fund 1 – School Operating is a stand-alone fund and, as such, does not include other assigned funds within it. Fund 1 – School Operating does include revenue and expenditure accounts to which applicable transactions post, and there is no requirement that these be “zeroed-out.”

     

  19. Alleghany County Board of Supervisors (appropriating body), from my knowledge isn’t aware of these negative balances, and how the school funds are continuing to be replenished at the beginning of each fiscal year without any adjustments for these over-expensed amounts. – First, Mr. Kern’s accusation that expenditures exceeded appropriation for the previous three years is false. Had this been the case, such would have been noted in the annual audits. Second, the county annually appropriates funding for each of the school division’s funds as part of their budget process. The school division cannot incur expenditures in any of our funds without an appropriation for such approved by the Board of Supervisors. For the supplemental funds (2, 3, 4, 6, 10, 11, and 13) the appropriated amounts are typically not the fund balance but are based upon anticipated expenditures for the applicable fiscal year. If, subsequent to the initial appropriation, it is determined that a larger appropriation is required, then a request for supplemental appropriation is submitted to the Board of Supervisors for approval. In addition, the Treasurer of Alleghany County is the primary manager of the school division’s bank account and has full access to such. We also provide to the treasurer’s office and to the county finance office our monthly ledger of revenues and expenditures for all funds so that they can balance the bank account. Suffice it to say that the Board of Supervisors and county administration are well aware of the school division’s finances.

     

  20. $1,230,000 has been fraudulently appropriated to the Alleghany County School Board and has been misappropriated. – The $410,000 that Mr. Kern references in each of the three previous fiscal years is the “Clifton Forge Reversion Money” and most, if not all, of the Board of Supervisors are aware of this. As a financial incentive to encourage smaller school divisions to combine, the state offered a lower Local Composite Index or LCI (a main component in the school funding formula) for fixed periods of time. When Clifton Forge reverted to town status and their school division became part of the county, the LCI was fixed at .2423 for 15 years which resulted in additional state funding at that time of $410,000. Rather than consume this additional funding via perpetual expenditures such as salary increases (and have to come up with on offset in 15 years), the local government and school officials at that time had the foresight to budget this additional funding as a separate line item in the budget.  It has been budgeted in Capital Outlay Replacement/Repair. Balances in this account that are unexpended each year are transferred to Fund 10. This money has been used over the years for major capital improvements including the HVAC and electrical renovations to Alleghany High School that were completed in 2014. Mr. Kern’s accusation that “zero expenditures have been assigned to this fund” is inaccurate. First, this is an expenditure account, not a fund. Second, this $410,000 has been expended the previous three years to reimburse the county for the bond that was obtained to complete the funding package for the aforementioned Alleghany High School project. The associated expenditures for this bond repayment have been posted to expenditure accounts compliant with the Virginia Department of Education Annual School Report reporting requirements. All of this information is readily available on the detailed expenditure statements

     

  21. 2019 has an assigned amount of $389,785 as of Month End-10/31/2018 no expenditures have been charged to this assigned fund. Response – The $389,785 is the “Clifton Forge Reversion Money” less $20,215 that we utilized to balance the Fiscal Year 2019 budget. The aforementioned bond was paid off in June 2018 so the budgeted amount this year can be used to pay for capital projects on the Capital Improvement Plan and help offset the reduction in state funding that we will realize due to an Average Daily Membership (ADM) that is lower than the level that was budgeted. Any unexpended balance will be transferred to Fund 10 at year-end.

     

  22. An assigned fund called Buildings already exist. No need for Facility. – The Virginia Department of Education provides guidance on establishing a chart of accounts and related revenue, expenditure, and balance sheet codes. The Annual School Report also has requirements for reporting revenues and expenditures. We attempt to comply with these state guidelines and requirements. Facilities is a separate category from Buildings with different types of expenditures being reported under each category. For example, Buildings is used for reporting expenditures related to keeping the physical plant clean and ready for daily use. Facilities is used for reporting land acquisition, building remodeling, and installing or extending systems and equipment.

     

  23. $3,000,000 (approximate) has been fraudulently acquired and misappropriated in the Operating Fund-1. These amounts have been misappropriated and were used to transfer to the School Capital Fund-10. – His allegation that these funds have been fraudulently acquired or misappropriated is false. In summary, the transfer of year-end operating fund balances was done in accordance with School Board Policy DAA, the information related to these transfers was provided in a public School Board meeting, the financial information related to such was communicated to the Treasurer and to the finance office of the County of Alleghany, requisite appropriations were approved by the Board of Supervisors, and the transactions passed the scrutiny of the annual financial audit.

     

  24. Beginning 2014-2015 school year (The new SUP was appointed) and the School Capital Fund was a meager $504,249.39 (estimate). Year-End 2017-2018 June 30th the Capital Fund is $1,957,295.90. Response – The current division superintendent began in June 2015 and had little, if any, impact on Fund 10 in that fiscal year. The year-end fund balance for Fiscal Year 2015 for Fund 10 was $1,506,691.87 which is significantly different from the $504,249.39 amount provided by Mr. Kern for the same period. The following is a summary of the Fund 10 year-end fund balances:

     

    Fiscal Year 2013 -         $2,969,573.21

    Fiscal Year 2014 -         $688,236.02

    Fiscal Year 2015 -         $1,506,691.87

    Fiscal Year 2016 -         $1,494,888.46

    Fiscal Year 2017 -         $2,111,390.00

    Fiscal Year 2018 -         $1,957,295.90

     

    The large decline in fund balance from 2013 to 2014 (77%) was due to paying for the Alleghany High School renovation project. A sampling of other major projects that were accomplished thanks to Fund 10 includes:

     

    • Roof replacements at Alleghany High School, Callaghan Elementary School, and Sharon Elementary School.
    • Parking lot and roadway milling and repaving at Alleghany High School.
    • Parking lot sealing at all schools and the School Board office.
    • Wi-Fi infrastructure upgrades in all schools (Chromebook initiative).
    • Security camera and entrance access additions and upgrades.
    • Alleghany High School fire alarm system replacement.
    • Clifton Middle School tennis court refurbishment.

       

      Looming on the horizon are major expenditures at Mountain View Elementary and Clifton Middle Schools as these building near 20 year of age when major components such as roofs and HVAC systems reach or exceed their useful life expectancies.

      It is fortunate that our school division, in cooperation with our local government, has the capacity, as established in compliance with School Board Policy DAA, to maintain safe and comfortable facilities for our students and staff. There are many other school divisions in rural Virginia that are not so fortunate.

       

  25. Psychological Testing - Budget in 2017 decreased from 2016 by 96%. – The budgeted amount was reduced from $18,250 in 2016 to $890 in 2017 to reflect the fact that this expenditure category was not typically being used at the level to which it was budgeted. Psychological testing can fluctuate substantially due to need. The current amount of $1,000 has been sufficient for actual usage the past two years but, as evidenced by the $7,116 actual expenditures in Fiscal Year 2016, there may be years when the current budget of $1,000 will be inadequate.

     

  26. Psychological Counseling

     

    • Not clear distinction between Counseling and Services. Response – Psychological Counseling is the category under which the Mental Health Counselor is captured. Psychological Services is the category under which the School Psychologist is captured.

       

    • Appeared in 2018 (what about 2015, 2016, and 2017) were services provided. – The Mental Health Counselor was originally a joint program with Covington City Public Schools and was fully funded by The Alleghany Foundation. Our school division served as the fiscal agent and a separate fund, Fund 7 – Alleghany Foundation Mental Health Initiative, was established for the program. The Alleghany Foundation ceased funding for the program at the end of Fiscal Year 2017. Our School Board opted to continue the program for our school division which is why a budget amount appears in Fund 1 for Fiscal Year 2018 but not for 2016 and 2017. Since multiple entities were no longer involved it was not necessary to maintain a separate fund. Services for this program were provided in 2015, 2016, and 2017 via the aforementioned Fund 7.

       

    • 58% of expenses were used in 2018. – Effective January 2, 2018, the full-time Mental Health Counselor requested to go from full-time to part-time. Her request was granted which reduced her annual salary for the year, and she was no longer eligible for benefits.

       

    • Budget in 2019 decreased from 2018 by 40%. – Per the aforementioned reduction of the Mental Health Counselor position from full-time to part-time, the position was budgeted as part-time for Fiscal Year 2019 whereas it had been budgeted as full-time for 2018.

       

  27. Psychological Services

     

    • In 2016 & 2018 budget was about 40% higher than actual expenses. – The current director of finance was not present when the Fiscal Year 2016 budget was prepared. It does appear, however, that an anticipated vacancy was incorporated into the amount budgeted for salary and benefits for the school psychologist position. This assumption is supported by the fact that the position has been occupied by three different individuals (one of them twice) from Fiscal Year 2015 through Fiscal Year 2018. When budgeting for a vacant position an assumption of step 9 on the salary scale (it is now step 4 since the salary scales were redone two years ago), a master’s degree supplement, and single health insurance coverage are assumed. Again, the current director is assuming this since he was not present but that was, and is, the current practice for budgeting for vacancies. The subsequent employee who was hired for the position was at a lower salary and did not take health insurance.

       

      The Fiscal Year 2017 budget of $77,248 was based on the individual who was actually hired in Fiscal Year 2016 and was on board at the time the budget was prepared. This individual subsequently departed the school division in June 2016. Even though the individual subsequently hired was at a higher salary and benefits, she did not begin employment until October 2016. In the interim, a former School Psychologist was hired. The actual expenditures for 2017 exceeded budget by $6,312.80, due to a combination of higher salary and benefits costs for the new hire (although not as high as they would have been had she been employed for the entire year) and the additional cost of the interim employee.

       

      The Fiscal Year 2018 budget was prepared based on the individual who was hired in October 2016 (Fiscal Year 2017). She subsequently left the school division prior to the start of the 2018 fiscal year and her replacement was at a lower salary and did not take health insurance. In addition, the newly hired School Psychologist requested to reduce her annual contract from 260 days to 220 days. This request was granted which further reduced the cost of this position. The actual expenditures for Fiscal Year 2018 were less than budget by $29,913.25 due to the aforementioned impacts and not using a part-time School Psychologist for which $5,500 was budgeted.

       

    • 2016 & 2018 budget amounts are identical. – This is incorrect. The 2016 budget amount was $108,999.80 and the 2018 budget amount was $102,772.00.

       

    • 2017 & 2019 budget amounts are identical. – This is incorrect. The 2017 budget amount is $77,248.00 and the 2019 budget amount is $74,110.00.

       

    • Correlation (when testing expenses were higher and services in the next year were also higher, when testing was down in the following year services were also down).  Response – There is no correlation here as evidenced by the previously provided information.

       

  28. Other Health Services (not sure what this represents)

     

    • Average of 70% of these budgeted expenses are used. – This account is for Vision Impairment Services and the need can vary greatly. The amount budgeted for Fiscal Year 2018 was reduced by $2,156 due to less usage and that level was maintained for Fiscal Year 2019. If the budgeted amount for this account is reduced too much and we have an increase in students requiring this service, then expenditure offsets will have to be made elsewhere.

       

  29. Speech Audiology Services

     

    • Each year is consistently budgeted at $1,324, and 2017 there was no expenses, 10-20% expenses are used. - This account is for Audiology Services and the need can vary greatly. This amount represents 0.00005 (five hundred thousandths) of the total Fund 1 – School Operating budget.

       

       

  30. Observations: These revenues I believe are tied to special education in one way or another and play an important observation. Prevention, At Risk, Social Security, Special Education revenue sources are flat when comparing budget to actual revenues. I believe that the enrollment of students with disabilities is tied to the receipt of these funds. Response – The aforementioned revenue sources are state funds and are determined by the state funding calculation tool that is provided to school divisions each year by the Virginia Department of Education upon approval of a budget by the General Assembly. As such, budgeted revenues for these categories should mirror (be flat to use Mr. Kern’s terminology) actual revenues received barring a significant change in Average Daily Membership or a reduction in state funding due to fiscal challenges; both of which have occurred in the past. The following are the descriptions of these revenue sources as included in the calculation tool:

     

    • Prevention, Intervention, Remediation – “SOQ Prevention, Intervention, and Remediation funding provides remedial services to children who need additional instruction.” This funding is applicable to all students (regular and special education).

       

    • At Risk – “State payments for at-risk students are disbursed to school divisions based on the estimated number of federal free lunch participants in each division to support programs for students who are educationally at risk. Funding is provided as a percentage add-on to Basic Aid to support the additional costs of educating at-risk students.” This funding is applicable to all students (regular and special education).

       

    • Social Security – “This funding supports the state share of cost of the employer share of Social Security costs for funded SOQ instructional positions.”

       

    • Special Education – “Funding for special education provides for the state share of salary costs of instructional positions generated based on the staffing standards for special education.”

       

  31. Material Discrepancies

     

    • “Prevention”, “At Risk”, “Social Security Instruction”, “Special Education”: Picture Perfect when other revenues and expenses are not and relatively budgeted amounts remained flat year after year except for 2016-2017 in Special Education. Response – This was answered previously.

       

  32. Medicaid

     

    • Budget increased in 2016 from $33K to $90K in 2017. Response – The Fiscal Year 2016 budget was completed and approved prior to the arrival of the current superintendent and director of finance. During preparation of the Fiscal Year 2017 budget, the new administration recommended that the budget for Medicaid Reimbursement revenue in Fund 1 – School Operating be increased to a level that could reasonably be expected to be received versus the previous practice of transferring favorable year-end variance to Fund 11 – Medicaid Reimbursement. Medicaid Reimbursement funding is provided only for students who are Medicaid eligible and have eligible services (e.g. occupational therapy) specified in an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The number of eligible students and eligible services varies from year to year as does the timing of the receipt of reimbursement from the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services.

       

    • Budgeted revenue was a flat $90K year after year for three years. Response – Given the ongoing turmoil and unpredictability related to Medicaid funding in the Commonwealth of Virginia, along with historical fluctuations in Medicaid reimbursement actually received, school administration has been conservative in the annual amount budgeted for Medicaid Reimbursement. The following is a summary of actual Medicaid reimbursement received in prior fiscal years:

       

      • Fiscal Year 2012 -         $187,748.88
      • Fiscal Year 2013 -         $84,011.75
      • Fiscal Year 2014 -         $88,233.92
      • Fiscal Year 2015 -         $60,000.48
      • Fiscal Year 2016 -         $114,438.24
      • Fiscal Year 2017 -         $160,711.64
      • Fiscal Year 2018 -         $118,644.19
  33. Special Education Foster Care

     

    • From 2016-2018 in unbudgeted revenue was received. Response – The Commonwealth of Virginia provides an additional state payment for the education cost of prior year operations, as determined by the Virginia Department of Education, for certain children placed in foster care. This funding is provided for pupils who are not residents of the school divisions that are providing their education and who have been; (1) placed in foster care or other custodial care within the geographical boundaries of such school division by a Virginia agency; (2) who have been placed in an orphanage or children’s home; or (3) have been placed, not solely for school purposes, in a child-caring institution or group home. Funding is also provided to support children with disabilities attending public schools that have been placed in foster care or other custodial care across jurisdictional lines. This funding stream is, with few exceptions, solely the result of Boy’s Home residents who were, prior to Fiscal Year 2019, educated by our school division. Given the transient nature of the Boy’s Home student population, that the funding is based on prior year data, and that funding is provided as “determined by” the state, the school division has never budgeted this revenue stream. The following is a summary of actual Special Education Foster Care funding received in prior fiscal years:

       

      • Fiscal Year 2012 -         $19,683.67
      • Fiscal Year 2013 -         $62,933.00
      • Fiscal Year 2014 -         $29,686.00
      • Fiscal Year 2015 -         $25,073.00
      • Fiscal Year 2016 -         $17,201.00
      • Fiscal Year 2017 -         $52,829.85
      • Fiscal Year 2018 -         $42,958.00
  34. Year End 2016 $434,502.68 was booked as a revenue from the state due to a State Error. This was unbudgeted for the year. – This amount was unbudgeted because it was a state error. The state electronically deposited a total of $434,502.68, via three separate deposits, in Social Services/Comprehensive Services Act funds into the school division’s bank account. The Treasurer of Alleghany County notified us of these errors prior to these deposits hitting our bank account. The full amount of $434,502.68 was returned to the county as follows:

     

    Check #                        Check Date       Amount

    177076                          3/31/2016          $338,615.68

    177163                          4/21/2016            $20,967.00

    177213                          4/29/2016            $74,920.00

                                                                Total     $434,502.68     

               

  35. I can’t imagine the state making this error as it is very large. Response – The state did make this error and they have made others in the past. Documentation of this error is available for review, and the Treasurer of the County of Alleghany can corroborate such.

     

  36. I spoke to someone named <REDACTED>, Nov 17th 9:39 AM for about 40 minutes. She disclosed that she had heard during this time period or during 2015 that someone destroyed some financial documents and $300K was mysteriously reported and there was no explanation. Response – Gossip and hearsay don’t typically warrant a response but one is provided anyway. The director of finance does not know <REDACTED> and she is not an employee of the school division. As evidenced by the aforementioned information, the full $434,502.68 was returned to the county. The records were obviously not destroyed because they were used to prepare the response to this accusation and are available for review. Also, as heretofore mentioned, the county treasurer has full access to the school division’s bank account and both the treasurer and the county finance office receive the school division’s monthly ledger of revenues and expenditures for all funds so that they can balance the bank account. Finally, records are destroyed in accordance with the Records Retention Policies of the Library of Virginia under the supervision of the school division’s records retention officer.

     

  37. Classroom Instruction

     

    • Other than 2016, actual expenses are identical year after year. Response – Any similarity in actual expenditures in Fiscal Year 2017 and Fiscal Year 2018 is coincidental. The category “classroom instruction” includes contracted wages and benefits for teachers and teacher assistants, non-contracted wages for remediation, extracurricular, and substitutes, student tuition, supplies, purchased services, and travel. There are many variables involved from year-to-year that affect actual expenditures. For example, in Fiscal Year 2017 employees received an average 2% salary increase, additional funding was allocated to health insurance, the Virginia Retirement Systems rates charged to school divisions changed, and a net of seven instructional positions were eliminated due to enrollment loss. For Fiscal Year 2018 employees received an average 1.22% salary increase, dual enrollment tuition was increased, and a net of five instructional positions were eliminated due to enrollment loss. Adding to the interplay of the aforementioned variables are employee turnover and the resultant replacement benefit (e.g. employees hired vary in wages and benefits from those who were budgeted), changes in employee classification (e.g. going from a 200 day contract to a 220 day contract), the number of employees who participate in health insurance, and substitute employee fill rates. Expenditure detail information for all of the above expenditure classifications is available to refute the veiled accusation of improper conduct.

       

    • This fund was under budget in 2016 ($356K), 2017 ($346K), and 2018 ($459K) respectively. Response – This statement has been addressed, directly and indirectly throughout this document. The majority of these variances is due to replacement benefit that resulted from staff turnover, lower substitute wages, positions that were modified or changed, and lower health insurance participation.

       

    • This fund is $284K higher than the actual expenses for 2018. Response – In addition to the impacts that affected the favorable variance in Fiscal Year 2018, the Fiscal Year 2019 budget includes a step plus 1% salary increase, additional allocation for health insurance, the migration of Testing and Technology Resource Teachers (TTRT’s) from 200 to 210 day contracts, and market adjustments for Speech Language Pathologists. As such, the budgeted amount should be higher.

       

    • Very odd that in 2017 and 2018 that actual expenses are almost identical yet the budgeted expenses were much higher and more variable. Response – Asked and answered.

       

    • ACPS has had a very high turnover of staff. In 2017 and 2018 –I believe 27 staff left the school system. Response – Thus the fund balances that Mr. Kern has repeatedly addressed. The school division typically finalizes its budget in early to mid-March based on staff in place at that time. There is potential for significant variance in budgeted personnel versus those that actually begin the school year in August.

       

    • Each year there seems to be unfilled/vacant positions associated with the assigned fund that cannot be explained. – In prior years we have had employees leave during the school year and have been unable to hire qualified replacements. A number of methods are used to address this including paying existing teachers to work during their study period, employing long-term substitutes, and consolidating classrooms (which our low pupil-teacher ratio assists with). At other times we have elected not to fill vacancies that occur after the start of the school year because we anticipate reduction in force due to enrollment loss for the next year and do not want to hire someone without the likelihood of continued employment.

       

    • Each year there is unexpended amounts of substitute wages. – Previously addressed.

       

       

  38. Buildings, Grounds, Equipment

     

    • For the most part when reviewing the total budgeted and total expenditures these amounts seem fairly flat, however in 2017 expenditures seems to top the total budgeted amounts.Operational expenditures for Building Services can vary significantly from year to year based upon such issues as equipment failure and utilities consumption (e.g. degree days, unit rates). For example, in Fiscal Year 2017 the bell and clock system at Clifton Middle and Mountain View Elementary Schools required replacement. Several classrooms at Mountain View Elementary required that floor surfaces be replaced in some classrooms due to termite damage. Also, electrical utility costs for the year exceeded budget by $69,554.

       

    • Grounds expenses for 2017 and 2018 exceeded budgeted amounts. – In Fiscal Year 2017 additional costs were incurred for playground improvements at Mountain View Elementary School and major water line repairs were required at Sharon Elementary School. In Fiscal Year 2018, three commercial mowers were purchased to replace three that were in poor condition.

       

    • Equipment service expenses were over budgeted for each year. – Operational expenditures can vary significantly from year to year based up repair and replacement requirements. Also, favorable variance in this category helped offset unfavorable variances in other categories of the overall maintenance and operations budget.

       

  39. Summary of Observations

     

    • I believe these accounts offer the most potential to provide misappropriation to occur. I believe the school system is mixing expenses that should go to some funds but placing them in these funds to manipulate the year end results to provide the opportunity to transfer and re-allocate unspent funds to the Capital Fund. Typically you would see a steady increase and gradual increase in year over year expenses due to the passage of time and inflation. Costs in these categories typically increase but instead are performing a yo-yo effect and are very random in certain year. The ability for Class Room instruction expenses to hit exactly the same for 2017 and 2018 and being able to predict a surplus resembles the precision accuracy of Bernie Madoff (BEMIS). – This summary of observations has been addressed throughout this response document with the exception of Mr. Kern’s association of the management of the Alleghany County Public Schools finances to the infamous Bernie Madoff which is not worthy of a response.  Mr. Kern’s statements are false, misleading and untrue.

       

      Special Education

       

      Mr. Kern has made false and libelous accusations related to Special Education and 504.  According to the claims in his document, his allegations include a failure to provide special education services as written in IEPs, unqualified service providers, inflated budget amounts, misappropriation of fraudulently received funds, ’flat’ revenue sources when comparing budget to actual revenues, fraud and forgery.

       

  40. 40.Mr. Kern alleges that “budgets typically flow smoothly year after year with typical increases. This is not the case with these expenditures.” – With regard to special education funds and budget, the annual Federal Title VI-B grant application for monies from the Federal Government is prepared reviewed and then approved by the School Board. As per instructions from the Virginia Department of Education, the budget amount in those applications is taken directly from the previous year’s budgeted amount. This application has to be completed (which includes approval by the School Board and the Local Special Education Advisory Committee) and submitted to VDOE by May of each year. Typically in October, we receive notification from VDOE of what funds have been actually awarded for our expenditure for special education services. In Alleghany County Public Schools all Section 611 Federal special education funds (for students in grades K-12) are utilized for employee salaries and benefits. The Section 619 funds (early childhood special education) are used to provide materials, supplies/or equipment requested by the teachers of children with special needs whom we serve in our reverse inclusion classrooms ages 2-5, or staffing for IEP mandated extended school year services. The cost of services to students identified as eligible for special education services is determined by the level of services and type of services a student requires. The individual student’s Individualized Education Plan team (IEP).  (Membership of this team is set by Federal and State regulations) determine what services a student requires to have a Free and Appropriate Public Education. In short, the cost per student is whatever it takes to meet the individual student’s needs as determined by that team. Therefore, the cost of services can vary from year to year based on the number of students in the division who are eligible for special education services and the intensity of services they require.

     

    The population of students in our division who are eligible for special education services has remained fairly constant over the past few years, despite the decline in enrollment (December 1 Child Count numbers for the last three years are as follows: Dec. 1, 2016-316 students with IEPs, Dec. 1, 2017 – 312 students with IEPs, Dec. 1, 2018- 314 students with IEPs.) In addition to this, the school a student attends can make a difference in the cost of services. State regulations outline state caps on caseloads that a special education teacher can be required to manage. This can be a building average of 20 students per case manager not to exceed a maximum of 24 per case manager. In more restrictive settings with students with more intensive needs, it is limited to 10 students with a teacher and one full time assistant. For early childhood reverse inclusion classrooms, it is limited to 8 children with IEPs in the classroom at any given time with one teacher and one full time assistant. Again, the intensity of student needs and the determination of service needs by the IEP team can impact the cost per student and the number of employees required within a school.

     

    The funds received from the State for special education services is determined in part by the number of students on the December 1 Child count, but also by the level of services that must be provided to students. The State looks at students who receive services 50% or more of the day (as determined by the IEP team) and students who receive services less than 50% of the day (as determined by the IEP team.) All this data is pulled from the annual December 1 Child Count. Any remaining funds needed to provide services that do not come from the State or Federal Government must come from the locality.

    The Federal Government requires each school division to file an annual report of Maintenance of Effort. In short, this report looks at the expenditures for special education students and requires that a minimum amount of funds be expended for these students either in total or per capita. The only way for a school division to have a reduction in the amount of special education funds that must be spent is for the number of students being served to decline.

     

    Regarding Medicaid, the Division has participated in a Medicaid reimbursement program for eligible special education services since Dr. Heath was hired to be the Director of Special Education (DSE). Dr. Heath also oversees the nursing program.  The Nurse Coordinator and her assistant process all Medicaid paperwork and file these claims on a schedule set by the State. The Nurse Coordinator and her assistant have served both Covington and Alleghany School Divisions. The State leaves it to each school division to determine who will be in control of the expenditure of these funds. Previous Superintendents had designated that this money would accumulate in a Medicaid fund and expenditure of these funds was determined by the Superintendent. When Mr. Kotulka came to our division as Superintendent, the decision was made to utilize these funds in the operating budget. The anticipated reimbursement amount (based on the history) is put into the budget annually as a part of the budget process. There are extensive documentation requirements for billing Medicaid for reimbursement. Therapists spend a great deal of time writing Plans of Care, keeping service notes, and providing appropriate documentation to the Nurse Coordinator and her assistant before billing can be processed. In addition, there are specific training requirements for certain types of reimbursement. (For example, for a division to bill for a personal care assistant, the person providing that service must be both CPR and First Aid trained. The Nurse Coordinator keeps record of who has training requirements and who is up to date on them, as well as making arrangements for training when it is necessary. The two therapy assistants employed by the Division also have training requirements to be employed in that position. In addition, they must be supervised and supervision documented by the licensed therapist. This applies to both occupational therapy and physical therapy assistants.

     

  41. 41.Mr. Kern in his document provided a laundry list of “Common Rip-offs” that occur in Medicaid billing, presumably across the United States of America. – None of these have been issues in Alleghany County, nor has our division ever been accused of such. Additionally, Mr. Kern provides advisement under the heading “Other issues to be Aware of”. He advises “Don’t sign your name to a blank form.” Our service providers don’t keep a supply of blank forms. Medicaid consent for billing prints out as a part of the annual IEP developed for each student. The child specific information on the form comes from the parent if they are in agreement with providing that information. It is their choice. Once they have completed that form, they decide whether or not to sign giving consent for the division to bill for Medicaid reimbursement of any qualifying services. No one is forced or coerced in any way. It’s part of the process and the form we use is part of an IEP software developed and controlled by Virginia Department of Education (VDOE).

     

  42. 42.Mr. Kern also advises “Don’t share your medical records or other medical information with anyone except a doctor, clinic, hospital or other healthcare provider.” – A school division can request medical information from a parent/guardian for consideration in the provision of or eligibility for special education services, 504 services, emergency plans of care, or nursing services. It is always a parent’s choice whether or not to provide the information requested. Without this relevant information, the school division cannot find a student eligible under the disability categories of Other Health Impaired, Traumatic Brain Injury, Vision Impaired, Hearing Impaired, Deaf-Blind (and in some cases ) Emotionally Disabled special education categories due to the lack of required documentation.  Medical information is also often an important consideration for other special education disabilities and can help with making an accurate eligibility determination. A student is only eligible for 504 services with the presentation of medical documentation from a providing healthcare provider. That is a Federal requirement. A treating physician must provide medical documentation and recommendations for emergency care plans and nursing services. Additionally, medically certified homebound services require medical documentation. A parent can choose whether or not to sign a consent form for the school division to communicate with health care providers. But, without this consent (which must be given in writing once every 365 days and can be revoked by the parent at any time) the division is unable to provide certain services.

     

  43. 43.Mr. Kern advises “Do ask for a copy of everything you sign.” – Case managers, administrators, and counselors are advised to provide a parent a copy of every document pertaining to their child. The division also makes an additional copy of documents upon request. Additionally, parents/guardians may request access to a student’s education records at any time. This may require making an appointment to view those records with the building administrator because it is required that someone be available to supervise the inspection to make sure that nothing is added to or inadvertently removed from a file.

     

  44. 44.Mr. Kern alleges that ACPS is “billing for services that are not being provided.” – This is a patently false accusation. The documentation of service provision is thorough and specific in documentation. This is a requirement for billing.

     

  45. 45.Mr. Kern also alleges “a decline in expenses associated with Medicaid billing. “ Medicaid revenue varies from year to year based on the billable services provided.

     

  46. 46.Mr. Kern alleges that “services designed for a one-on-one setting…are provided in a group setting.” - This is patently false. The IEP team determines the services that a student will receive. The therapist determines what services a child needs to receive in a group or on an individual basis. The IEP team determines if services will be provided in a pull out setting or in the general education classroom. Speech-language is a social activity. Therefore, it is appropriate in most cases for this service to be provided in a group giving a student the opportunity to interact with students and receive reinforcement from other students for appropriate and clear communication. In some less frequent circumstances, for example when a student is of an age at which the student should be able to communicate verbally and effectively, but due to developmental delays the student is not communicating verbally effectively or is non-verbal. In some instances, this might require an intensity of services that would be delivered individually. This would be a case by case specific determination made by the providing therapist. It is also true that being in a social group can reinforce and increase a student’s communication whether it is verbal or non-verbal. This is a decision for which speech language pathologists are trained and qualified to make.

     

  47. 47.Mr. Kern alleges that CPS bills for 60 minutes of services for 30 minutes of service provision. – This is patently false. Documentation of each session is required for billing.

     

  48. 48.Mr. Kern alleges that “services are not provided by qualified providers, [and] an alternative ACPS maybe (bold type added for emphasis) using Special Education teachers.” – This is patently false. All providers are fully licensed in their field and are required to meet specific billing requirements. All our providers meet these requirements. In reference to his statement

     

  49. 49.Mr. Kern states, “This is relevant as there seems to be a high density in Special Education staff reported.” The size of the staff is determined by the number of Special Education students and their needs as dictated by the IEPs.

     

  50. 50.Mr. Kern alleges that the “school collects signatures on sheets of paper unbeknown to parents.” – This is patently false. I am not sure how he alleges we get parents to sign documents without them knowing they are writing their name.

     

  51. 51.Mr. Kern alleges that these “documents are used to bill Medicaid or report information to the Virginia Department of Education.” Parents are requested to sign a Participants Page at the beginning of meetings. This document provides a written record of those who participate in a meeting. Parents are given a copy of this document, as well. When the meeting is an annual IEP or annual 504 meeting, this Participants Page is a part of the document from the IEP or 504 software. When the meeting is not part of an annual review, case managers may use a self-created form for recording the names of the participants or they may use a piece of paper labeled Meeting Participants with the meeting date and student’s name on the page. Again, parents are given a copy of this document and it becomes a part of their educational record.

     

  52. 52.Mr. Kern alleges that “schools are reluctant to provide IEP/504 documents, they delay providing information to parents when a request for education records is made.”  This claim is patently false. As previously stated in this document, parents are provided copies of documents from meetings as meetings are held. When additional copies are requested, the school division provides them. If a parent requests to view a student’s educational records, an appointment needs to be scheduled when someone from the staff (the principal or the principal’s designee) must be available to supervise the record inspection. If someone is not immediately available, the time is scheduled with the parent.

     

  53. 53.Mr. Kern alleges that staffing in speech and special education have declined. – Speech Full Time positions have remained the same since I have been DSE (3). I have requested that an additional 0.5 full time speech position be added to the budget for next year due to the increase in the number of students receiving speech/language services. This will give us a total of 3.5 full time speech language positions. For two years (2016, 2017) we were unable to acquire direct hires for 2.5 positions and had to contract with outside providers. This was done at a much higher cost to the division. We were fortunate to be able to direct hire 2.5 therapists this year. One young lady is originally from Alleghany County and completed her onsite training here. The other young lady returned to the area from having been in Alaska because she has family in the area. We still contract for a 0.5 Speech Language Pathologist through Presence Learning for a virtual service provider. Because we are utilizing a virtual provider, we are required to have an assistant on staff working with the speech pathologist to be the supervising adult with the students when they are receiving services and facilitating the virtual communication.

     

  54. 54.Mr. Kern’s allegation that no speech services are being provided. – His statement is patently false.

     

    Other special education staff is based, as previously discussed, on the service requirements determined by the IEP teams and the school the student attends. We have 19 special education case managers this year. I have requested the addition of another position due to a rise in the numbers at our elementary schools. This will give us a total of 20 special education case managers. (This does not include therapists and support personnel or contracted service providers.) Currently special education staffing is as follows:

     

    Division - 1 Board Certified Behavior Analyst (Behavior Specialist – This position was a special education teaching position that was rolled into the behavior specialist position. This would look like a            reduction in special education teachers, but it was actually converted to another special            education support position.)

    CES-   1 teacher, 1 teaching assistant

    SES-   2 special education teachers, 4 teaching assistants (one of these assistant positions is a temporary position until the end of the school year.)  (An additional assistant was added to the Early Childhood Special Education reverse inclusion classroom this year due to the intensive needs of one student. An additional assistant was added to the K-5 special education services second semester because the case manager has more than the number of students allowed in the State case load maximum. This addition of a special education teaching position in the division will alleviate this overload in the next school year.)

    MVES – 5 teachers, 9 assistants

    (Four of the assistants are associated with service provision with students whose IEP teams have placed them in the behavior support program. MVES may or may not be the home school for these students. Two of the assistants are with Early Childhood special education reverse inclusion classrooms to meet staffing requirements. The remaining three assist case managers with meeting service requirements as set by IEPs.)

    CMS- 5 teachers, 3 assistants

    (Two of these assistants are with the classroom with students with significant cognitive needs which requires a higher level of staffing. The other assistant provides services through the resource room or otherwise under the direction of case managers to meet IEP service requirements. )

    AHS – 6 teachers, 3 assistants

    (It requires more service providers at the high school due to block scheduling and meeting the requirements of IEPs for inclusive services provided in the general education classroom. Two assistants work with the students with significant cognitive disabilities. One works with case managers to provide services in inclusive or resource settings.)

     

  55. 55.Mr. Kern alleges numerous parent complaints. There is and always has been a process for parent complaints. The division has had one state complaint with a finding of unfounded. The division has had one due process claim filed which was settled in mediation. There are currently no parent complaints. Additionally, in November a parent advocacy group called FACES (Families of Autism Community Enrichment Services) came to the area to provide parent training. ACPS have been communicating with FACES and working cooperatively with them to provide additional parent training and to help connect parents to the services they need to help them with understanding special education process.

     

  56. 56.Mr. Kern’s alleges that he was provided information from FACES regarding complaints. – Legally this would require that FACES have written consent from the parents to share information with Mr. Kern, otherwise, this would be an illegal disclosure of protected student information.

     

  57. 57.Mr. Kern’s alleges that we do not conduct child find because he claims we do not do evaluations, - In reviewable history ACPS has been conducting Child Find.  There are numerous activities that come under Child Find including but not limited to assessment for eligibility for Special Education Services.   In addition, contrary to Mr. Kern’s allegation, Child Find is much more than just conducting evaluations for special education eligibility. The division annually publishes information jointly with Covington City Schools regarding special education services, eligibility categories and definitions and contact information for both Covington City Schools and Alleghany County Public Schools if someone has a child with a suspected disability or knows someone. The Division annually conducts a Child Developmental Screening event in cooperation with Covington City Schools and Infant and Toddler Connection (Part C of Title VI B Federal Programs) inviting parents to bring their preschool aged children for free developmental screening. If concerns are found, parents are notified and consent for evaluation is requested. The division annual sends information packets to local physicians and pediatricians with information regarding services we offer, two way consent forms that parents can sign for physicians to make referrals, and contact information for my office. Letters are sent to parents who home school their children to let them know we stand ready to provide services to their qualified children. Letters are also sent to local private schools outlining information regarding services we can provide upon request. All these are things that factor into Child Find under the law.

     

  58. 58.Mr. Kern alleges that we receive special education funds for a local “group home”. This is patently false. As long as this “group home” had students attending ACPS who were eligible for special education services, ACPS provided those services. When this “group home” began providing educational services as a private school, these students were no longer enrolled in ACPS.

     

  59. 59.Mr. Kern changed the wording on an email communication from me to Amy Trail in which Dr. Heath requested that Amy Trail let Dr. Heath know if any systemic issues had been found. Mr. Kern changed the words to “There are systemic issues.” – Dr. Heath has received no such notification even though FACES has been working to help students and parents in our division.

     

  60. 60.Mr. Kern also falsely assumed and misinterpreted the meaning about having limited resources. Dr. Heath was referring to larger divisions have special education coordinators and other support personnel that attend meetings and help with monitoring compliance. ACPS utilize assistance from VDOE and the Technical Training and Assistance Center (TTAC – a branch of VDOE) to meet staff and student needs. ACPS has trained School Based Intervention Team chairs (with the help of VDOE) in eligibility determination. The SBIT chairs and our school psychologist act as designees in eligibility determinations and guide the team in making these decisions utilizing specific criteria documents provided by VDOE and requirements guided by VDOE.

     

  61. 61.Mr. Kern alleges that ACPS mishandled three student issues.  For two of these issues there has been no complaint.  The third student issue was resolved.
  • Actual revenues received in 2016 were $80.5K (400%) more than expected budget. Response – Already answered in the first and second bullet points above.

     

  • Budget in 2017 was increased by 200% from 2016. Response – Already answered in the first and second bullet points above.

     

  • Actual Revenues in 2018 increased by $46K over the prior year. Response – Already answered in the first and second bullet points above.

     

  • Revenues exceeded budgeted amounts by 50% (2016-2017). Response – No amount has been budgeted for Special Education Foster Care from Fiscal Year 2012 to present.

     

  • Zero (0) is budgeted as a revenue source in 2019. I don’t understand why funds were not budgeted in 2019 when there seemed to be a constant revenue stream from this source. – Effective with Fiscal Year 2019, Boy’s Home students are no longer educated by Alleghany County Public Schools and the Special Education Foster Care revenue we have received previously will cease unless we have non-Boy’s Home foster students (an infrequent occurrence). As such, Fiscal Year 2019 will be the last year we receive this revenue, based on Boy’s Home students, and that is for prior year local operations as noted in bullet point number one.

     

    Even the Regular Foster Care funding that we budget for and receive is very tenuous. Like the aforementioned Special Education Foster Care, the vast majority of the Regular Foster Care funding is the result of Boy’s Home residents educated by our school division. The projected amount of state funding for Regular Foster Care is included in the calculation tool that is provided to school divisions each year by the Virginia Department of Education upon approval of a budget by the General Assembly. This projected amount, like all of the other funding categories provided on the calculation tool, is the amount of revenue we budget. The following summary is a summary of budgeted and actual Regular Foster Care revenues:

     

    Fiscal Year        Budget              Actual               Variance

    2012                 $93,378.00        $59,051.00        -$34,327.00

    2013                 $88,819.00        $62,933.00        -$25,886.00

    2014                 $89,195.00        $50,290.00        -$38,905.00

    2015                 $80,703.00        $73,129.00        -$7,574.00

    2016                 $98,901.00        $65,073.00        -$33,828.00

    2017                 $82,202.00        $98,149.00        $15,947.00

    2018                 $156,658.00      $110,167.00      -$46,491.00

     

                            The significant variances in state projections for Regular Foster Care versus the actual                             amounts received is indicative of the reasons for not budgeting Special Education Foster                          Care funding for which the state doesn’t even provide projected funding amounts.

     

 

With regard to Mr. Kern’s allegations regarding his child, ACPS is not at liberty to address any information specific to a student without the parent’s written consent.

 

Mr. Kern alleges that the policy was changed to avoid an audit. There are two policies listed on the ACSB website…..Policy DI (Revised 2015) is absent this requirement. - The statement is false. He is inferring that I made the change to prevent an audit.  The policy change was a VSBA policy change.

 

The statement is false.  He was provided several explanations in writing and in public.  His knowledge of school budgeting and finance is very limited and he has refused to meet with either the director of finance or me to gain a better understanding.

 

On January 26, 2019, at 12:07 am, Mr. Kern sent an email to the Alleghany Journal that he was unaware of the document.  At 12:11 am, Mr. Kern sent me an email stating that the document was not supposed to be released and was not sure how it got released.  The truth is that Mr. Kern sent the document to a member of the Board of Supervisors.  Mr. Kern falsely stated to the Alleghany Journal that he was unaware of the document.

 

All of Mr. Kern’s “Red Flag” summaries are false.

 

“Red Flag” Summary

 

  • Inconsistencies with budget amounts year after year that do not prescribe to the Superintendents 2-year averaging method. – This is a false statement.
  • Unexplained increase in Medicaid reimbursement while maintaining a flat enrollment base and cutting 50% or more of related services in half to almost non-existent. – this has been explained to Mr. Kern
  • Financial information sequestration by school authorities, including an inflated $5,200 deposit to provide requested information under the Freedom of Information Act. – This is a false statement.
  • Severe complaints from multiple parents which create a troubling pattern on service inconsistency in regards to Special Education delivery.  – This is a false statement.
  • Potential systematic special education complaint with the help of Amy Trail. – This is a false statement.
  • $900K in Negative Assigned Fund Balances (not GASB principles).  Creating a fraudulent acquisition of appropriated funds in the following year. – This is a false statement.
  • Year after year surplus attainment despite enrollment decreases and inflation. – This is a false statement.
  • Unexplained State Error $450K, which could be connected to the 2015/2016 destruction of financial documents and disappearance of $300K. – This is a false statement.
  • $1.2 million “Facilities” appropriation but zero expenditures for every year in the past three years. – This is a false statement. 
  • No Audit of the School Division’s Operating Funds or any other Fund used. – This is a false statement.
  • Missing 2015 Financial Reports. – This is a false statement and has already been explained to Mr. Kern
  • 2017 Financial Reports were provided in a nonstandard format.  “Excel” instead of the same format used in every other year. – This is a false statement.
  • Changing of the Financial Policy (DI) in 2015 (same year the SUP was hired) in-order-to remove the requirement to have a Division Audit. – This is a false statement. 
  • Material discrepancy in the accounting classification in expensing assets to the Capital Fund ($42K vehicle purchase). – This is a false statement.
  • Medicaid Fraud:  due to billing for services not being rendered, or services not furnished by professionals, or by serving a group of individuals versus one-on-one delivery in-order to lower billing and increase reimbursement revenue. – This is a false statement.
  • I believe forgery and document alteration is also being committed to execute fraud. – This is a false statement.
  • “Cooking the Books” by inflating expenditures and deflating revenues and using budget fillers to create surplus funds to transfer at year-end to the Capital Fund-10. – This is a false statement.
  • Adjusting operations by working less staff (teacher aids and professionals) even though Special Education enrollment is flat.  The use of Teacher Aids in place of Substitutes and doing it consistently is a violation of FAPE for children with disabilities. – This is a false statement.
  • Grievous Complaints regarding the denial of FAPE under IDEA and Section 504– This is a false statement.
  • Attempts by the Board Chairman to delegitimize my concerns and place roadblocks to prevent any investigation to occur. – This is a false statement.

 

Let me conclude with the following.

 

Mr. Kern’s assumptions in the document are false.  His statements are false.  Mr. Kern’s innuendos, accusations, false statements and intentional misinterpretations are detrimental to our students, our staff, the members of the School Board and the Alleghany Highlands community.    In his short time on the School Board, Mr. Kern has wasted a tremendous amount of money and human capital.  As of today, $21,591 has been spent for School Board attorney costs and over 225 man hours have been needed to chase his false accusations, assumptions and innuendos.  At the same time, Mr. Kern has chosen not to address any of his issues with administrators who could have easily answered his questions.  However, when Mr. Kern was provided with answers he has chosen to ignore them.  I can then only assume that Mr. Kern has a disregard for staff and fellow School Board members.  Mr. Kern has accused staff of theft of assets, lying about audits, being belittled by School Board members, the Board of Supervisors fraudulently appropriating funds to the Alleghany County School Board, Child Find not being conducted yearly, funds not being provided for FAPE (Free and Appropriate Public Education), inflated the instructional budget intentionally to provide for capital expenses, funding was misappropriated and fraudulently used by the School Board, Medicaid services not being provided and billing for those services, falsifying Medicaid reports, using unlicensed staff, falsifying signatures, forging signatures, manipulation of year end results to move more funding into the capital fund, destruction of documents, forging and document alteration, cooking the books, and not placing the required advertisements in the media.  Mr. Kern’s actions and behavior have negatively affected staff moral and distracted their focus away from job responsibilities, that are already stressful and demanding enough.  Our staff members are dedicated, hardworking, and capable professionals who have the right to be treated respectfully and professionally.  I am proud to be working with them. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(19-192) DOCUMENT

Mr. Lane read the following resolution

Alleghany County Public Schools

February 25, 2019 School Board Meeting

Resolution

            WHEREAS, the School Board has received several expressions of concern over the past several months from staff and the administration regarding the actions of Donnie Kern with regard to Mr. Kern’s filing of a report that contained unfounded allegations against the School Board and its employees with the State Police, Auditor of Public Accounts, and State Inspector General on December 11, 2018;

WHEREAS, Mr. Kern’s filing of the report containing unfounded allegations was without the knowledge or approval of the School Board. Mr. Kern’s actions are viewed by the School Board as being inappropriate for a member of the Board and injurious to the school division; and

            WHEREAS, School Board members discussed Mr. Kern’s actions with him as they relate to the December 11, 2018 report.  Mr. Kern, who ignored or otherwise failed to obtain accurate facts before filing the report, refused to engage in discussions with his fellow Board members regarding the report.  Further, Mr. Kern refused to withdraw the report or otherwise acknowledge its inaccuracies; and

            NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT THE School Board expresses, formally, that it disavows the allegations included in Mr. Kern’s December 11, 2018 report and requests that he abide by the Code of Conduct of School Board members.

ROLL CALL VOTE:  

                        Mr. Franson -YES

                        Mr. Kern - ABSENT

                        Mr. Lane - YES

                        Mrs. Morgan – ABSENT

                        Mrs. Seckner - YES

                        Mr. Tucker - YES

                        Mr. Wright - ABSENT                            

 

                                                                         4 -YES   3 – ABSENT     0 - NO    

                                                                        TIME: 7:28 p.m.           

 

(19-151) PUBLIC COMMENT

Dee Ann Tickner- She wanted to tell the Board firsthand about her job and students.  She stated this is her fifth year in the reverse inclusion classroom.  She has a Master’s degree and eight endorsements in education.  She feels blessed with professionals who collaborate seamlessly including the paraprofessionals in her classroom.  She loves her job because of the kids. 

 

Samantha Jill Smith-Ms. Smith stated she completely agreed with Ms. Tickner

 

Michele and Marisa Nicely-Teacher and parent of special education student stated how important special education was for her child and that our special education teachers were doing a great job.  Marisa Nicely, Michele’s daughter, read a poem.

 

Jeff Alleman-Mr. Chairman, Mr. Kotulka, Members of the Board:

We – the Central Office’s administrative staff - rise this evening because it has become professionally necessary that we –together- publically refute the recently published comments that have been attributed to Mr. Donnie Kern, a member of the Alleghany County Public School Board.

 

If we were to remain silent, Mr. Kern’s commentary might retain its level of supposed authority and validity. Unchallenged, Mr. Kern’s conclusions would continue to taint- without cause- the integrity of our dedicated staff members and our service providers.  Tonight, we speak out in order to supplant untruths with fact.

 

As you are aware, much of Mr. Kern’s recent commentary is a collection of publically available school board documents and office-level work papers. However, a portion of Mr. Kern’s presentation was not publically available for reasons related to student privacy. To this point, we reference the redacted document that is offered in the Alleghany Journal as KernDoc1.  We thank the Alleghany Journal for its several redactions as the consideration was mindful of state and federal law. The public should know that Mr. Kern’s original work did share sensitive and personally identifying student information with those who were outside the “need to know”. As mandated by the high bar set forth under FERPA, the public’s trust requires us to protect the privacy of our students and their families.  Therefore, it is our opinion that Mr. Kern’s breach was –at a minimum- unethical.  We believe his action to be deserving of your sanction.   

 

Furthermore, we ask that you consider the variety of unsubstantiated –untrue- allegations that were contained within Mr. Kern’s recent narrative.  No such described behavior has ever been exposed by our annual, third-party audits or our frequent peer reviews.  Our superintendent and this board hold us to the highest ethical standards. We stand with our colleagues and we can attest to their dedication, to their honesty, and to their unwavering personal integrity. Board members, we recognize that your ability to act may be constrained.  To Mr. Kern, we offer that an action is available to him.

 

It is our belief that by word and deed, Mr. Kern has discredited the reputations of several highly regarded professionals.  And by assuming the guilt of all in absence of any fact whatsoever, Mr. Kern has forever damaged his working relationship with those same individuals. 

 

We thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Sandy Moss-Ms. Moss addressed the board concerning the proposed tuition for non-special education IPOP students.  She made four points concerning this proposal:  a) many parents may be unable/unwilling to pay high costs b) IPOP allows typicals to learn compassion c) typical costs less money than any other student in the division and d) the projection does not take into account students who would be eligible for waivers.

 

Melanie Mullineaux-She discussed her extensive qualifications for her position and that Mr. Kern had no right to make such outrageous accusations that were completely false.

 

Katie White and Jessica Lanehart-Ms. White and Ms. Lanehart reviewed their qualifications for their positions and the requirements for speech therapists to be certified. 

 

Christy Cook-Ms. Cook spoke on behalf of Clifton Forge Little League asking that a sign for the fields behind Sharon Elementary School be put in a permanent foundation at the school.

 

Cindy Fox-Ms. Fox praised the Special Education staff as amazing.  She thanked the staff and board members who attended the Red4Ed Rally in January.  She continued by thanking the board for everything they do.

 

Bob Umstead – Mr. Umstead stated that he was offended by the email that was read.  He was offended that the board would accept the letter and do nothing about it.  He told the board that the board needs to fix the problem and they are only as good as their weakest link.

 

Asheby Curry-Ms. Curry stated that she was the parent of an IPOP student in Ms. Tickner’s class and shared what a difference the class had made in her son’s life by providing structure, accommodations, love, and Lysol.

 

Cassandra Brookman-As President of the AEA, Ms. Brookman thanked the board and Mr. Kotulka for supporting the Red4Ed Rally.  She stated she met with Creigh Deeds and Terry Austin while in Richmond and reiterated that school divisions need funding with no strings attached.  She thanked Mr. Kern for attending the February 12 meeting of the Special Education Advisory Committee but after hearing the email felt that was no place for his presence.  She stated he needs to educate himself.

 

(19-152) SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER AND SUPERINTENDENT COMMENTS

Mr. Franson thanked the Sharon IPOP students for the good job singing.  He thanked all Special Education therapists and teachers.  He thanked Mr. Kotulka for his explanation of the documentation refuting Mr. Kern’s allegations.

 

Mr. Lane appreciated the students who sang.  He noted there was a lot of emotion in the room.  He also stated that he has a child in this school division and that he wanted to join the School Board because of the great things that were happening.

 

Mr. Meadows offered appreciation for the good job the students did in singing for the board.  He thanked all Special Education teachers and therapist.  He also thanked Mr. Kotulka for his explanation of the documentation refuting Mr. Kern’s allegations.

 

Mrs. Seckner-Thank you to Ms. Nicely, Ms. Smith and Ms. Tickner for speaking to the board tonight; we are listening and hear your concerns.  Also, to Ms. Cook for all you do for our local Clifton Forge Little League Program, I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to accommodate your request. 

 

In my spare time I do a little reading, and I came across an article entitled “What Makes a Great School Board Member?”  I’ll read a few of the requirements on what it takes to be a great school board member:

 

  1. Great school board members have a clear vision for the district.  They set the vision and goals, and measure the success of the district and superintendent against the goals. 
  2. Great school board members work as a team.  They collaborate well with others and are respectful of the other board members and the superintendent and staff.
  3. Great school board members focus on what is best for ALL students (not just their own child or friends of their child); they focus on student achievement and implementing policies that will ensure the success for ALL students. 
  4. Great school board members advocate at the local, state and national level for public education.  They take advantage of opportunities to communicate the needs of public schools to other levels of government and advocate for strong public schools.

 

There are also signs of ineffective school board members, and it states “if you notice any of the following signs, it’s time to find some new candidates to run your school board”.  Some of these are as follows:

 

1. The school board member doesn’t conduct him or herself in a respectful, collaborative manner in public.

2. The school board member comes to meetings unprepared (and leaves meetings or abstains from voting).

3. The school board member micromanages rather than focusing attention on district-wide policies.

4. The school board member uses his or her position on the school board as an opportunity to put forth a political agenda with little relevance to student achievement. 

 

When I ran for the school board, my only agenda was to improve the educational opportunities and to prepare ALL of the students in the Alleghany Highlands for their future (including our Special Needs students.  I have 3 nephews that have been diagnosed with autism and other intellectual disabilities, so it especially tears at my heart to hear a fellow board member refer to those with special needs in a derogatory manner).  I feel that working collaboratively with our teachers, staff, and our central office is so very important.  My goal is simple, and it’s the same goal I had 3 years ago when I ran for this office.  There are positive ways to achieve this goal, and there are negative ways.  A positive approach builds the confidence of our teachers and staff; it gives the students a positive environment in which to learn, and it gives the board a sense of unity.  A negative approach pulls the board down, the teachers and the staff down, and will deeply impact the learning environment for our students.  We don’t have any room for baseless negativity on this board or within our school system.  This type of negativity only hurts our teachers, our staff and ultimately our students.  My advice is to look at the positives and build on those things, such as the teachers that held feed and clothe their students; central office staff members that volunteer at the Christmas Mother shop and donate to charitable causes with your time, energy and paycheck; teachers and staff that stay after school to help those students that are struggling with their academics.  I could go on and on; there are so many great things our employees do, but we don’t hear enough about those positives.  I’m NOT saying to ignore the pressing issues; however, I am saying to address them in a collaborative manner while staying focused on our goals and objectives and building up our teachers and staff members rather than constantly questioning their judgment and their work ethic.  Until you have had the privilege to be a teacher in the classroom or have working in a school board office, it’s hard to pass judgment with baseless accusations that amount to nothing and only take time away from their day to day job duties and responsibilities. 

 

Also, I’d like to include that under VA Code Section 22.1-71, it states:  A school board constitutes body corporate; corporate powers.  This Code Section basically states that school board members appointed or elected by district or otherwise shall have no organization or duties except such as may be assigned to them by the school board as a whole.  This was one of the first things I learned as a new school board member three years ago, and I’m surprised that our newly appointed school board member hasn’t learned this VERY BASIC FACT. 

 

I would also like to speak to the comment Mr. Kern made in the paper regarding remaining silent on all issues the board discusses in closed session.  Mr. Kern stated that keeping closed session discussions confidential is untrue, and although there may be an opinion of the Attorney General, it’s important that we remember that these individuals live in our community, and we do ABSOLUTELY need to respect their privacy.  I believe it shows character to remain silent on confidential matters especially when we’re dealing with minor children.  It’s so very important to be respectful of those staff members and students that come before the board in closed session.  So, Mr. Kern, if you truly believe that it’s okay NOT to remain silent on confidential issues, I would have to question your character and integrity and your capacity to serve as a school board member. 

 

In closing, I am saddened by the negative press that our individual school board member has drawn to our community because in reality, I feel that we are an amazing small, rural school system that does so much for our students with the little funding that we have.  Our teachers and staff go above and beyond EVERY SINGLE DAY, and I know that my 3 children have had a safe, caring and compassionate environment in which to learn here in the Alleghany Highlands. Thank you.     

 

Mr. Tucker commended the Red4Ed Rally and participants.  He noted state funding for ACPS is approximately $1900 less per student now than in 2009.  He said the state is failing education.  He made the following statement:

 

On January 16, 2019 Mr. Kern made his complaint a public document when he sent it to a member of the Alleghany County Board of Supervisors.  Prior to that day the school board had no knowledge of the document’s existence.  After reviewing the document, the division superintendent Gene Kotulka forwarded it to the Virginia Department of Education for review on Feb. 1, 2019. This document has many bits & pieces that have been manipulated to try to present what Mr. Kern would have others believe represent the facts.  This is the furthest thing from the truth.  In his opening statement to the parties to which he sent the document and by his own admission he states “My reasonable possibility may prove to be inadequate, but nonetheless I am at my end in trying to determine the difference between possible and factual.”  It’s time you decide.

 

Mr. Kern has not one time been to the school board office to talk with Keven Rice-Finance Director ACPS.  And if he was so concerned then why didn’t he take time to meet with Keven and have him explain what he didn’t understand about the budget or accounting practices.  He is an accountant and it should be very easy for him to spot an issue unless you want to claim that you have been denied access to the documents.

 

Mr. Kern refuses to see the facts because he wants everyone to believe that he is a victim.  It is just the opposite.  He is the villain.  Spreading lies so he can cover up his true mission, that is to use his position on the school board to harass others so he can get services that he is not eligible for.  One of his advocates has told an employee during a meeting that if Mr. Kern did not get what he wants by Friday you will be fired.  Bullying or not?

 

On 11/19/2018 I did reiterate to Mr. Kern that the board does not do investigations.  You cannot be the Judge, Jury, and Prosecutor.  If you have a person tell you everything about an upcoming case then you have to excuse yourself from the hearing.  He does not understand. 

 

He also states that he was told that I wasn’t going to get the information he requested…(I am assuming even if I did pay the $5,200 deposit).  Again saying something that I said to him.  Not true. I did explain to Mr. Kern that board meetings are not a lunch and learn.  You should be prepared to come in informed and be prepared to make decisions.  I explained to him as the other board members have also, that you should go by the office and ask for an explanation or call other board members for assistance with your questions.  He refuses to do so.

 

Being a distraction at meetings by grandstanding, being obnoxious, blaming everyone else, and not participating is not what a board member does.  Others have tried this at other government meetings and they have failed also.

 

Serving on any board you must have honesty and integrity as your two core values and you have demonstrated that you lack both.  Mr. Kern has tried bullying the board, administrators, employees, and others so he should remove that bullying shirt that he wears because everyone can see what he really stands for.

 

By the way school board members are not constitutional officers.  Virginia only has 5:  Treasurer, Sheriff, Commissioner of Revenue, Clerk of the Court, and the Commonwealth Attorney.

 

The board has not belittled Mr. Kern.  Mr. Kern has belittled himself by making false accusations and misrepresenting the facts.

 

Mr. Kotulka stated there is an ongoing investigation due to Mr. Kern’s regarding a violation of FERPA and FOIA.  There are also three lawsuit possibilities pending from Mr. Kern’s actions.  He noted it was fantastic to hear the kids.  He stated that we have an incredible staff here and an amazing group of teachers and staff.  In finishing his fourth year in ACPS, no county or city in the Commonwealth of Virginia does a better job of education their children than Alleghany County.

 

 

 

(19-173) RECOGNITION OF SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS APPRECIATION MONTH

Mr. Kotulka recognized each school board member in celebration of School Board Member Appreciation month.  Each member was presented with a certificate of appreciation from the Virginia School Boards Association and a token of appreciation from the schools.

 

(19-177) CONSENT AGENDA*

The following items were included for approval.         

A. Approval of Minutes of January 14, 2019 Regular Meeting

B. Approval of Payment of bills 

C. Cafeteria report 

D. Communications/Monthly Reports

  1. JRTC monthly report

E. Field Trips

      1.  AHS Robotics Clu8b, Kentucky, April 24-27

       2. AHS Band students to Virginia Tech/Kings Dominion April 5-7

F.  Approval of Minutes January 8, 2019

 

MOTION: That the items listed on the consent agenda be approved as presented.

MOTION:    Mr. Franson        

SECOND:  Mr. Lane

ROLL CALL VOTE:   Unanimous

           

 

BUDGET AND FINANCE

(19-178) BUDGET REPORT*

 

School Operating Fund

$3,173,746.46

School Textbook Fund

$862,258.88

Alleghany Foundation Nursing Grant

$51,776.25

Governor’s School

$170,120.41

Scholarship

$75,974.21

School Capital

$1,588,388.21

Medicaid Reimbursement

$206,351.97

New Tech Program

$341,327.28

Grand Total

$6,469,893.67

 

(19-179) BUDGET UPDATE BASED ON PROPOSED GOVERNOR’S BUDGET, INCLUDING STATE REVENUES*

Mr. Rice reported that the General Assembly concludes this week.  He hopes to have an update by Monday.  Currently the budget proposal includes a 5% increase for SOQ positions and a reduction in school counselor ratios.  He also noted that projected health insurance premiums from Anthem have averaged 3.3% increase, less than the original 7% increase that was projected. Mr. Wright’s efforts have yielded $400,000.00 to investigate school consolidation.

 

 

SUPERINTENDENT REPORTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

(19-180) CALENDAR INFORMATION*

Mr. Kotulka reminded the Board of the following meetings/events:

- February 21, 9:00 a.m. -- Administrative Budget Committee at Central office

- March 4, 6:00 p.m. – Budget Work session at Central office

- March 12, 12:00 p.m. – Joint Board of Control meeting at JRTC

- March 18, 2019 6:00 p.m. – Regular meeting at Alleghany High School

- March 30 – Celebration of the Arts- 1:00 p.m. -2:30 p.m.  Art Show, 3:00 p.m. Concert                                 at Covington High School

- March 27 or 28, 6:00 p.m. – Present budget to Board of Supervisors at ACGC

- March monthly calendar

 

19-181     Approval to submit Title V, Part B Rural and Low Income federal grant application (action)

Ms. Mutispaugh presented the Title V, Part B grant application for approval.  She stated that this is the first year Alleghany County Public Schools has received this funding and that in the future it will be part of the consolidated federal application. 

MOTION:  That the board approve the Title V, Part B Rural and Low Income application as presented.

MOTION:  Mrs. Seckner

SECOND:  Mr. Lane

ROLL CALL VOTE:  Unanimous

 

19-182     Special Education Annual Plan (information)

Dr. Elizabeth Heath presented the Special Education Annual Plan for information this month.  She noted Alleghany County Schools will continue extension of services to both elementary and secondary special education students by retaining 7 teachers, a behavior specialist, and one teaching assistant with Federal funds. Proportionate funds will be set aside to pay for speech/language, occupational therapy or physical therapy services for students parentally privately placed who require these special education services. The division will review future employment status of teachers currently employed, engage in performance evaluation, ensure return of current staff or actively recruit qualified personnel, and ensure student IEP annual review for goal accomplishment and necessary program revision. The division will continue to provide aides and related personnel and evaluate performance, and ensure intent to return or recruit qualified personnel.

Alleghany County Public schools will continue to fund assessment and other contracted services to students with disabilities. The division will also continue provision of appropriate therapies and psychological services including a full time psychologist. The division will retain a transition employment specialist to provide instruction and job coaching to students.  The division will continue the elementary Behavior Support Program. The division will continue to facilitate participation in conferences, seminars and professional development for personnel.

The 619 Grant – Earl Childhood Special Education Grant Period is July 1, 2019 – September 30, 2021.

Alleghany County Public Schools will maintain three reverse inclusion classes. Services include therapies when appropriate. Goods and services purchased will enhance and extend existing options. Transition Services including Home-visits and liaison for students transitioning from Part C to B will be provided. Tuition assistance will be provided for students in licensed settings outside the division as needed. Appropriate therapies will be provided for students as needed. Conferences will be made available to maintain and enhance teacher skills. Materials, supplies, and equipment to enrich and stabilize the existing programs will be purchased.

This plan was presented to the local Special Education Advisory Committee February 12, 2019, for their review and approval. The advisory committee approved it unanimously. This is being presented to the Board at this time for information purposes. The Board will be asked to vote on approval of the Annual Plan at the March School Board meeting.

 

 (19-183) ONE-TO-ONE INITATIVE UPDATE*

An update was provided on the One-to-One initiative as it pertains to professional development.  Also shown was a video titled “Hillbilly Elegy”. The video featured Ms. Mallory Nicely and her students.

 

(19-164) PROPOSED WEB FILTERING CHANGES FOR JUNIORS AND SENIORS*

Digital Citizenship describes a collection of important 21st century skills. A comprehensive definition must include words such as etiquette, literacy, commerce, security, and personal responsibility.  Writing for TeachThought.com, Terry Heick defines digital citizenship as the self-monitored habits that sustain and improve the digital communities [we] enjoy or depend [up] on.”  In our schools, we teach Digital Citizenship through our Internet safety curriculum and we enforce compliance through the function of our web filtering services.  Although our content filtering environment does provide students with a limited opportunity to develop some self-monitored habits, a supervised, transitional experience is not offered for our juniors and seniors.  At present, the web traffic generated by all of our high school students-without regard to grade level- is filtered using identical rules. In order to promote the development of self-monitored habits and in order to provide a supervised, transitional Internet experience for our juniors and seniors, we propose modifications to the web filter categories and Google features that are described below:

  1. Allowing YouTube content via the company’s restricted-mode capability. At present, YouTube content is limited to only teacher-selected videos. 
  2. Allowing Advertisements.
  3. Allowing sites related to Auctions/Shopping.
  4. Allowing access to sites that host digital forums (filtered by keyword).
  5. Allowing streamed radio and TV content.

The division would like to deploy the modifications to selected students (test environment).  Parents will be offered an opportunity to opt-out.  Internet traffic will be monitored and usage reports will be generated. Access violations will be reported to the high school’s administrative team.

MOTION:  Mr. Lane

SECOND:  Mr. Franson

ROLL CALL VOTE: Unanimous

 

19-185      Request for Proposals for Chromebook Purchase (information)

Mr. Alleman shared the following information with the board.  The warranties for nine hundred and seventy Chromebooks will expire on or before August 28, 2019.  Due to the excessive cost of one-year extended warranties ($63,440.00), device replacement is advised.

In March, the IT department will publish a Request for Proposals that will include a specification for seven hundred and ninety-three units.

  1. Eighty units; Faculty/staff
  2. Twenty-five units; CMS (Loaners)
  3. Six hundred and forty-three units; AHS students
  4. Twenty-five units; AHS (Loaners)
  5. Twenty Units; Spare

On May 20, 2019, a contract will be presented for the board’s consideration.

Pending a contract approval, IT will order new Chromebooks on May 21, 2019. The order will be invoiced on or after July 1, 2019.  Devices will be in hand by July 15, 2019.

 

(19-186) CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT AND OPERATIONAL MAINTENANCE UPDATE*

Board members were provided the work orders in their agenda packet. 

 

OTHER BUSINESS

(19-187-192) ADDITIONS TO AGENDA were included previously.

 

CLOSED SESSION

(19-170) CODE OF VIRGINIA: PERSONNEL MATTERS 2.2-3711.A.1, AND SCHOOL SAFETY REPORTS 2.2-3711.A.19.

MOTION: That the School Board enter closed session to discuss Personnel Matters, and School Safety Reports, as authorized by the Code of Virginia Sections 2.2-3711A., and 2.2-3711.A.19.

MOTION:   Mr. Franson

SECOND:   Mr. Lane

ROLL CALL VOTE: Unanimous

TIME:  9:24 p.m.

 

MOTION: That the School Board return to open session from closed session.

MOTION:    Mr. Lane

SECOND:  Mr. Franson

ROLL CALL VOTE:   Unanimous

TIME:  9:42 p.m.

 

CERTIFICATION OF EXECUTIVE SESSION

The Chairman requests a motion to certify that to the best of each member’s knowledge:

  1. Only public business matters lawfully exempted from opening meeting requirements by Virginia law were discussed in the closed meeting to which this certification applies; and
  2. Only such public business matters as were identified in the motion convening the closed meeting were heard, discussed or considered by the School Board.

                                    MOTION:   Mrs. Seckner

                                    SECOND:   Mr. Franson

                                    ROLL CALL VOTE:       Mr. Franson - YES

                                                                        Mr. Kern - ABSENT

                                                                        Mr. Lane - YES

                                                                        Mrs. Morgan – ABSENT

                                                                        Mrs. Seckner - YES

                                                                        Mr. Tucker - YES

                                                                        Mr. Wright - ABSENT                

 

                                                                        4 -YES    3 – ABSENT      0 - NO    

                                                                        TIME:  p.m.                  

 

 

________________________________________          _______________________________________

Chairman, Alleghany County School Board                     Deputy Clerk

 

 

 

           

PERSONNEL

(19-189) PERSONNEL ACTIONS*

MOTION: That the Board approve all personnel actions as discussed in closed session and recommended by the Superintendent. 

MOTION:     Mr. Lane

SECOND:   Mrs. Seckner

ROLL CALL VOTE: Unanimous             

           

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION:  That the February 25, 2019 meeting of the Alleghany County School Board be adjourned.

MOTION:     Mrs. Seckner

TIME:  p.m.  9:43 pm

 

 

_______________________________________              _____________________________________

Chairman, Alleghany County School Board                       Deputy Clerk