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On Wednesday, July 6, the Warren County School Board voted unanimously to approve two software purchases, changes to food and childcare contracts, an agreement with Skyline CAP Head Start, and a schedule item change. tied to the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival for Warren County Public Schools. (WCPS).

WCPS Superintendent Christopher Ballenger (far left) meets July 6 during a regular Warren County School Board meeting with board members (left to right) Andrea Lo, Antoinette Funk, Kristen Pence , Ralph Rinaldi and Melanie Salins, as well as WCPS Chief Financial Officer Robert Ballentine (far right).

School board president Kristen Pence, vice-president Ralph Rinaldi and members Antoinette Funk, Andrea Lo and Melanie Salins were all present at the regular meeting, which was flanked by closed meetings to discuss the assessment by the advice from WCPS Superintendent Christopher Ballenger.

The first board-approved action was to pursue for the 2022-2023 school year a preschool collaborative agreement between the WCPS Virginia Preschool Initiative Program and the Skyline Community Action Partnership (CAP) Head Start.

WCPS Director of Special Services Michael Hirsch told board members the school district is working “closely” with Skyline CAP Head Start to provide a preschool option for up to 40 students in two classrooms in modular trailers owned by Head Start housed at Leslie Fox Keyser (LFK) Elementary School.

An example of WCPS and Skyline CAP working together, Hirsch said (above), would be if there was a bear in the backyard at LFK, “which happened.” There is a communication process to begin an exterior lockdown between Head Start staff in the modular trailers and LFK staff “to make sure our students are safe,” he said.

In addition, WCPS and Skyline CAP coordinate in other areas, such as Child Find, the federally mandated process designed to identify, locate, and assess children in need of special education and related services, including speech therapy and physiotherapy. “We’ve been partners for a long time,” Hirsch said.

The school board-approved agreements between Skyline CAP and WCPS, as well as the Special Education Memorandum of Understanding, among other documents, outline working procedures, which include the referral process, disability services, communication and shared leadership at the local level for the program.

In another unanimous vote, the school board voted to allow an adjustment to the 2022-2023 WCPS schedule that makes May 5, 2023 a professional workday and approves April 28, 2023 as a regular school day for students.

“We have traditionally used Apple Blossom Friday as a teacher’s professional day,” WCPS Assistant Superintendent for Administration George “Buck” Smith explained. “Our current calendar foresees April 28, 2023 as a professional day. Apple Blossom Friday for 2023 is May 5. We recommend May 5, 2023 as a professional workday and approve April 28, 2023 as a regular school day.

The change in schedule will hopefully mean fewer school absences by teachers and students who attend the annual festival, Smith added.

In addition, the school board approved two purchases related to WCPS technology each totaling over $15,000.

The first purchase, requested by Hirsch, was for funds for the renewal of a contract with Public Consulting Group Inc. (PCG), headquartered in Boston, for $34,657. Consulting Company Provides Software Management Solutions for Multiple Annual WCPS Service Subscriptions, Including Section 504 Standard Process, Special Education Medicaid Documentation and Billing Programs, IEP Document Translation, EDPlan Health and EDPlan Parent Connect.

For example, PCG’s process-focused Section 504 solution “not only provides simple and compliant documentation, but also offers a number of time-saving online tools to improve plan management,” according to the contract. approved by the board.

The other board-approved software purchase for fiscal year 2022-23 is $100,608.39 and covers two single-source items: the GoGuardian suite, which includes classroom monitoring, self-harm, Chromebook fleet management and web content filter, and Microsoft license.

“This software provides operational and instructional support to our students, staff and faculty,” said WCPS Chief Technology Officer Timothy Grant, who added that the purchase will be funded.
through local technology funds and the Virginia Public School Authority Technology Grant.

Sodexo contracts
Two other notable school board approvals amended a WCPS Food Services contract for the 2022-2023 school year with Sodexo America LLC and revised and updated the WCPS custodial operations contract with Sodexo Operations LLC.

On June 18, 2019, the school board entered into an agreement with Sodexo America to operate WCPS Food Services. The agreement contains a clause that allows the contract to be renewed each year for four additional one-year periods upon mutual consent of both parties, Smith explained.

Changes can also be made if both parties are in mutual agreement, and Smith has proposed an amendment to the contract for the 2022-2023 school year so that WCPS can be entered into the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), which enables schools to serve enrolled students. free breakfast and lunch without collecting household requests.

Schools that adopt CEP are reimbursed using a federal formula based on the percentage of students who are categorically eligible for free meals based on their participation in other specific programs, such as the Federal Assistance Program Supplementary Nutritional Support (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), both of which serve low-income families. This number is called the Percentage of Identified Students (ISP).

“The Office of School Nutrition Programs at the VDOE recommends sites that have an FAI of 40% or higher enter the CEP program,” Smith said (above). WCPS is able to qualify all nine school sites as eligible for CEP because it has an FAI average of 41%, he said.

Meanwhile, Sodexo currently has a guaranteed return of $72,750 per year under its contract with WCPS. Smith said the amendment would waive that guaranteed return for one year so the school district could enter CEP on a trial basis “because both parties understand that the dollars may not be there to achieve that guaranteed return.” , did he declare.

The school board accepted and approved WCPS entry into the CEP based on the overall average PSI; approved Amendment 6 with Sodexo America to waive the guaranteed return of $72,750 for a one-year period from July 6, 2022 to June 30, 2023; and authorized the Superintendent to sign the Sodexo Food Service Addendum and accept any (non-material) administrative changes required by the VDOE.

The board also approved the Superintendent’s signing of an amendment to the custodial operations agreement that WCPS has with Sodexo Operations that will allow Sodexo employees working at WCPS facilities to have their one-time bonuses approved by the board. for all WCPS employees who have worked during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Click here to watch the July 6 school board meeting.

About Jessica J. Bass

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