• Norfolk School Board Approves $350.2 Million Operating Budget

    In a meeting held electronically on Wednesday, March 25, the Norfolk School Board adopted a $350.2 million operating budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year. The new budget includes an average 3.4 percent salary increase for employees and paves the way for some significant improvements for schools.

    On Feb. 19, Superintendent Dr. Sharon I. Byrdsong presented her operating budget to the proposal and the Board has been deliberating on it since then. The four priorities of her budget proposal, which the School Board supported, are: compensation, additional resources for schools, safety and security, and building repairs and maintenance.

    The School Board supported the recommendations inherent in the superintendent’s proposal and added to them. The Board passed three amendments that will provide:

    • A full-time grants writer position so the school division can be more competitive in the area of obtaining additional funding through grants;
    • A second instructional specialist for the Southside STEM Academy at Campostella. Dr. Byrdsong had recommended an additional instructional specialist for the school in her budget proposal. This addition will allow for both an elementary and a secondary specialist; and
    • A central office administrator whose role focuses on division-wide diversity, inclusion, and equity matters.

    Dr. Byrdsong assured the School Board that these positions could be accommodated within the existing resources of the proposed operating budget. She noted she would accomplish this by either eliminating vacant positions or by relocating or re-engineering current positions.

    The School Board’s adopted operating budget proposal was submitted to Norfolk City Council on April 1. City Council will adopt a municipal budget, including a schools’ spending plan, by mid-May. If City Council makes any funding changes to Norfolk Public Schools’ operating budget during that time, it will come back to the School Board for amendment.

    Some highlights of School Board-approved budget are outlined below.

    Priority: Compensation

    • providing an average 3.4 percent salary increase for employees;
    • increasing the starting pay for teachers from $44,220 to $45,000;
    • maintaining a pool of funding to address salary incentives for teachers and teacher assistants who agree to assignments at high-need schools;
    • increasing the hourly rate of part-time teachers from $25 to $30; and
    • increasing stipends for teachers and other staff to take on extra-curricular activities and athletics and also for secondary teachers who have more than 150 students in their combined classrooms.

    Priority: Additional Resources for Schools

    • Fifteen assessment coordinators/data analysts to coordinate all assessment functions at the secondary school level to improve efficiency of year-round testing and to support schools with data analysis at all levels (school/teacher/classroom/student);
    • ten specialists to ensure that a full-time mathematics and reading specialist is assigned to every elementary school
    • the development of a Grow Our Own program to provide staff a pathway to licensure and promotion;
    • the addition of seven new counselors based on a proposed change to Standards of Quality staffing ratios;
    • the addition of six English Language teachers to address a rising population of students who need these services;
    • extending the contracts of core teacher specialists from 11 months to 12 months to support literacy integration;
    • extending contracts of 10 counselors from 11 to 12 months to keep up with the demands for withdrawals and new enrollments during the summer months and to provide for the social-emotional needs of students; and
    • two teachers to support the National Mathematics and Science Initiative at Lake Taylor and Booker T. Washington high schools;

    Priority: Safety and Security

    • 28 school security officers – one for each of the school division’s traditional elementary schools; in addition, two K-8 schools, Ghent and Crossroads, will have their security coverage expanded to full-time;
    • the addition of five behavioral specialists that will be assigned to schools based on discipline data;
    • the realignment of job responsibilities of a division-wide administrator to lead the re-energizing of the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports Initiative (PBIS). This will also be accompanied by continued professional development in PBIS for teachers;
    • funding for professional development for literacy, trauma-informed care and social-emotional learning;
    • development of a psychology internship program to provide social- emotional supports to students;
    • five new attendance technicians to initiate improvements in overall attendance and a reduction in truancy; and
    • the addition of 15 bus assistants to assist with transporting students with disabilities.

    Priority: Building Repairs and Maintenance

    The fourth priority for Norfolk Public Schools, building repairs and maintenance, is contained in another budget proposal, the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) budget. 

    The 2019-20 funded year of the school division’s CIP allots only $3 million for school maintenance. The School Board also approved Dr. Byrdsong’s recommendation that this budget be increased to $17,068,280 of which $16,068,280 would be set aside for school maintenance. The other $1 million would be used for school bus replacement.

    NPS has been working with the consulting firm of Cooperative Strategies on a long-range facilities master plan. Cooperative Strategies has counseled the school division and the School Board to set aside at least $16 million a year for building maintenance.