Aug 16

Tuition Free Course to become Special Ed Teacher … Interest Letter Due August 25

Tuition-Free Prerequisite Course for a Provisional (Special Education) License Offered at Old Dominion University (Tri-Cities Center) – ONLY 10 Slots Available Division-wide
  • Interest Application Due August 25, 2017

To address the critical shortages of teachers in special education, Suffolk Public Schools will offer a tuition-free course, Foundations of Special Education: Legal Aspects and Characteristics (SPED 400), to 10 individuals recommended by Suffolk Public Schools Administrators. This fall coursework will be offered to individuals seeking endorsement in the area of Special Education (General Curriculum).

Among other requirements set forth in the Licensure Regulations for School Personnel       and state statute, individuals seeking a Provisional (Special Education) License with an endorsement in special education must complete a prerequisite course that includes “foundations for educating students with disabilities and an understanding and application of the legal aspects and regulatory requirements associated with identification, education, and evaluation of students with disabilities.” The Old Dominion University course (SPED 400) will meet this course requirement.

The cost of applying to Old Dominion University, the tuition for the course, and the cost of the textbook and fees will be covered by Suffolk Public Schools. The only cost to participants will be the cost of transportation to and from the class which will be held at the Old Dominion

Tri-Cities Center.

Applicants should submit their interest application using the Google link provided by August 25, 2017 .  Space is limited to 10 participants on a first-come, first served basis.

Interested applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university, must not have been previously employed under a provisional license in special education, and must be recommended by an administrator who has worked with the candidate.

Applicants must submit the following forms:

  1. School Administrator (or Designee) Recommendation Form. This form should be submitted to Dr. Rodney Brown by e-mail at rodneybrown@spsk12. and


  1. Online Interest Form. The Online Interest Form must be completed online at


Selected applicants will be notified by Suffolk Public Schools Human Resources Department.

For information about the course, please contact Dr. Rodney Brown, Director of Human Resources or Diane Glover, Director of Special Education.

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Aug 15

Preservice Schedule 2017

Preservice 2017 Cover

Click on the title to download a schedule. All documents are in PDF format.

Food Services-Transportation-Head Custodians

Elementary General-SpEd Teachers

Secondary Core Content Teachers

Special Education Teachers

Title I Teachers Revised 8/17/2017

Advanced Instruction Teachers


CTE-CCAP Teachers

Early Start-Childhood Teachers

Foreign Language Teachers


CPI Trainings – Edivate Registration for the CPI Training sessions will close on August 23, 2017 at 5pm.

United Way Coordinators

ESL Building Contacts Training – Edivate Registration for the Face-to-Face Training sessions will open on August 24, 2017. All training opportunities are optional. 

Edivate Catalog Registration Directions

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Aug 15

Welcome to! Flyer

Welcome to

Edivate Registration for the Face-to-Face Training sessions will open on August 24, 2017.  

All training opportunities are optional. 

Edivate Catalog Registration Directions

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Aug 14

Preservice Schedules to be Posted Wednesday, Aug. 16

The start of the 2017-18 school year is just around the corner, and we are looking forward to having employees join us for Pre-Service Week activities.

A detailed Pre-Service Week schedule will be posted here by Wednesday, Aug. 16.

This year, convocation will be held on Thursday, Aug. 24 at King’s Fork High School.

Principals and department administrators will contact their building staff about meeting at the school (or office) and then carpooling or traveling by school bus to KFHS.

The program begins at 9 a.m. with refreshments served from 8 a.m. to 8:50 a.m.

All staff is invited to convocation. Each building is encourage to wear school colors and sit together as a group.

Because all employees will be attending, schools, departments and offices will be closed during this time.


Other schedule highlights are listed below.

  • New Teacher Orientation – Aug. 21 – 23 at King’s Fork Middle School
  • Convocation – Aug. 24  at King’s Fork High School, with remainder of the day staff reporting to schools and departments
  • Training at School Sites – Aug. 25
  • District-wide Professional Development – Aug. 28-29
If you need a paper copy of the schedule (once available), please visit any school office, or call 925-6758 to request a copy by mail.

More than 165 new teachers will be welcomed Monday, August 21 on the first of their three-day new teacher orientation sessions.  The New Teacher Breakfast begins at 8:30 a.m. at King’s Fork Middle School.  School Board members, City Council members and division administrators will welcome them to Suffolk Public Schools with a meal and some remarks.  In addition, Sabrina Hayes, the City-Wide Rookie Teacher of the Year, will share some comments from colleague. Principals will introduce their new staff – many of whom are coming to the division with previous classroom experience.  In addition, 24 instructors from the redesigned College & Career Academy at Pruden will be introduced, as they transition to the Suffolk-only program.  Call Bethanne Bradshaw at 925-6752 for more information.


This year’s Division-Wide Convocation for Staff on Thursday, August 24 will feature keynote speaker Dave Burgess, a New York Times best-selling author of Teach Like a Pirate and co-author of P is for Pirate.   Convocation will begin at 9 a.m. in the King’s Fork High School gymnasium, with 2,000 teachers, administrators and support staff attending.  The event is a kick-off for the 2017-18 school year — the day that veteran teachers return to work.   Participants will be encouraged and motivated by speakers from the School Board, City Council, and Superintendent Dr. Deran R. Whitney.

  • NOTE: Schools, offices and departments will be closed on Thursday, August 24 from 8 a.m. to 12 noon for this division-wide professional development event.  Parents and others are reminded to call or visit the school that day after 12 noon.
  • Convocation is expected to conclude by 11 a.m.
  • Burgess is well-known for his outrageously energetic performance style and inspirational, yet practical, message. His consulting company specializes in innovative, creative books and professional development programs designed to transform education and uplift educators to reach their full potential.
  • His message to all employees of Suffolk Public Schools will be “Thinking Outside the Box: A Crash Course in Creative Brainstorming.” He will discuss using their brains like Google, creating a GPS system for powerful teaching, and magically creating new ideas through Creative Alchemy. In addition, participants will learn how to overcome obstacles that stifle creativity by using the Wedding Photographer Principle.
  • Burgess was a keynote presenter in October 2016 at the Suffolk Excellence in Education Conference, which attracted 320 Suffolk educators as they focused on student engagement with a dash of technology.

Call Bethanne Bradshaw at 925-6752 for more information.



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Jul 19

New Faces and New Places

Congratulations to our leaders who are taking on new roles for the 2017-2018 school year. We are grateful for your dedication and service. These changes were approved at the July 13 School Board meeting.

New Faces and New Places

Lori White, assistant principal at John F. Kennedy Middle School, was promoted to principal of Northern Shores Elementary, replacing Tara Moore, who was transferred as principal to Creekside Elementary, which was vacant due to Katrina Rountree’s resignation.
Andrea Wilkins, Ed.D. dean at Oakland Elementary was promoted to assistant principal at Northern Shores Elementary, replacing Antoine London, who was transferred to Oakland Elementary.
Johnetta Vaughan, math specialist was promoted to assistant principal at John F. Kennedy, replacing Lori White who was named principal at Northern Shores Elementary School.
Candace Myrick, teacher and AVID site Coordinator at John F. Kennedy Middle School, was promoted to assistant principal of Creekside Elementary School, replacing Robert Brennan, who resigned.
Amy Dail, lead transition teacher at Nansemond River High School, was promoted to assistant principal at King’s Fork High School replacing Kimberly Warholak, who resigned.
Tim Kubinak, science instructional specialist at Suffolk’s School Administration Office, was promoted to supervisor of science instruction, replacing Dr. Catherine Walsh, who resigned.

Lori White has been assistant principal in Suffolk Public Schools at John F. Kennedy Middle School since 2012.She also served as SPED data specialist, SPED compliance specialist and special education teacher in Suffolk Public Schools, starting in 2003. She earned her bachelor’s and education specialist degrees from University of Virginia, and master’s degree from Regent University.
Dr. Wilkins has been dean of students since 2014 serving at both Forest Glen Middle and Oakland Elementary Schools in Suffolk Public Schools. She also served as teacher at Pruden Center for Industry and Technology in Suffolk and at Crestwood Intermediate in Chesapeake Public Schools. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Norfolk State University, master’s degree from Regent University, and doctorate degree from Nova Southeastern University.
Johnetta Vaughan has been math specialist for Suffolk Public Schools since 2015. She served as assistant principal and math specialist at Churchland Middle and High Schools in Portsmouth Public Schools starting in 2009. She began her career as math teacher in 2001 at Lakeland High School in Suffolk Public Schools. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Elizabeth City State University, master’s degree from Old Dominion University, and another master’s degree from Regent University.
Candace Myrick has been AVID coordinator since 2015 and business teacher since 2011 at John F. Kennedy Middle School in Suffolk Public Schools. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Norfolk State University, master’s degree from Liberty University, and an additional master’s degree from Hampton University.
Amy Dail has been lead transition teacher at Nansemond River High School in Suffolk Public Schools since 2016. She served as lead SPED teacher at John Yeates Middle School from 2010-2016. She also taught at SECEP from 2005 – 2010. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Bluefield State College and master’s degree from Liberty University.
Tim Kubinak was named science instructional specialist in 2017 for Suffolk Public Schools. He taught math for 12 years, serving at both John Yeates and King’s Fork Middle schools. He taught and served as director at the Tidewater Regional Governor’s School for Science and Technology and also taught at Turlington Woods Alternative School in Suffolk. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Auburn University and master’s degree from Hampton University.


Congratulations to Bryan Thrift, who was named the principal at John F. Kennedy Middle School at School Board’s June 8 meeting. 

Thrift is currently principal at Riverside Elementary School in Newport News, where he has served for two years. From 2013 to 2015, he served as an assistant principal here at King’s Fork High School.  Thrift has also been an assistant principal and a special education teacher in Isle of Wight County Public Schools, and has taught in Northumberland County Public Schools and Hanover County Public Schools.  He earned his bachelor’s degree from Christopher Newport University and his master’s degree from the University of Phoenix.  He replaces Vivian Covington, who is retiring after 39 years with Suffolk Public Schools.

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Jun 08

Foundation Awards $15,000 in Instructional Grants

The Suffolk Education Foundation is proud to announce its financial support of the following classroom instructional programs which will impact more than 2,500 students during the 2017-18 school year.  The Suffolk Education Foundation has funded close to $300,000 in instructional grants over the years.

  • Battle of the Books:  Oakland Elementary School … Fifth-graders will compete in a Suffolk and Portsmouth elementary school “Battle of the Books” sponsored by the cities’ library systems. Ten books are selected as the knowledge base of the quiz bowl.  The grant will help purchase sets of these titles, and also coordinate a parent-partners promotion to encourage reading together at home.  ($930 – Michele Waggoner)
  • Building Walls Make a Home:  Nansemond River High School … Students in the city-wide Pathways to Engineering high school specialty program are preparing for college study and future careers in the field. Funds will be used in Civil Engineering & Architecture classes for a residential wall framing mock-up project.  Students will create a physical model of the cross-section of a house, taking a blueprint to a full-scale model.  ($530 – Dawn Rountree)
  • Coding with LEGO Robotics:  John Yeates Middle School … CHROME Club members will advance their hands-on lessons and expand their practical STEM knowledge. The grant will purchase LEGO robotics kits to enable the club to demonstrate their teamwork in the 2018 FIRST Lego League Virginia competition.
    ($1,075 – Leslie Bulger)
  • DNA Discovery — Expansion of Biomedical Sciences Program: Lakeland High School … Students in this city-wide, high school specialty program will design solutions to real-world, complex health problems. Funds will be used to purchase supplies for construction and cloning of a recombinant DNA.  The program prepares students for higher education study and careers in the fields of health care and medicine.
    ($2,000 – Sarah McDonald)
  • Full S.T.E.A.M Ahead:  Kilby Shores Elementary School … Elementary students will soon do more than check out books from the library. With the help of project-based kits, students will make hands-on connections across the curricular areas, particularly English and math. These materials will allow students to work on engineering, computer coding, simple machines, problem solving, and critical thinking. S.T.E.A.M. stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math.  ($1,887 – Allison Greene)
  • Handwriting Without Tears:  Northern Shores Elementary School … Preschool and kindergarten students need daily practice as they begin to apply their letter and word recognition skills to handwriting. The grant will provide a resource kit to routinely integrate handwriting to help these students expand their reading skills and emerge as writers.  ($228 – Danielle Hare)
  • I Wanna Rock!:  King’s Fork High School … Earth science students will channel their inner rock star as they learn to apply their textbook geology knowledge through hands-on analysis, using grant-funded rock and mineral identification kits. ($708 – Ann Bailey & earth science teachers)
  • Middle School Literacy Launch:  Forest Glen Middle School … Students selection for the Literacy Foundations program will demonstrate reading growth, academic responsibility, and motivation through daily silent reading paired with computer-based digital storytelling. The grant will add fun-to-read books to the classroom bookshelves. ($1,659 – Caren Bueshi)
  • Outreach from the Virginia Aquarium:  Nansemond River High School … Oceanography lessons can be “dry” when a textbook is the main resource. The grant will provide students with a hands-on laboratory to experience living invertebrates and dissection.  Brought to the school by the Virginia Aquarium, the event will also allow career option discussion with the professionals.  ($525 – Angela McElroy)
  • Ready, Set, Graduate:  Nansemond River High School … As students in alternative education programs work towards earning their GED, the grant will provide Chromebooks, headphones, and calculators to make their lessons more personalized. This grant-funded technology will provide students with simulations of real-world environments, which is expected to motivate greater effort and success.  ($2,000 – Cara Byrd)
  • Smart Kids Use Smart Toys:  Driver Elementary School … Students in early childhood special education classes will practice their communication skills, improve their understanding of colors, numbers and letters, and practice sharing with other preschoolers. The grant will add Wifi-interactive smart toys in three classrooms. ($300 – Stephanie Morris)
  • Spectacular Science Support:  Nansemond Parkway Elementary School … Students will benefit from the addition of more than 100 library print books and e-books, focusing on SOL-related science topics. The grant will help transform the school’s media center into a research and resource destination for teachers and students alike.  ($1,907 – Tosha Penkrot)
  • What’s Happening Now?:  John Yeates Middle School … Classroom lessons for sixth-graders will become more interesting and more engaging with individual subscriptions to eight issues of a current-events reader called Scholastic Scope. ($1,499 – Tina Reeves & 6h-Grade Teachers)

Awards are made following an application process and review by a committee from the Suffolk Education Foundation’s board of directors. Selection criteria include academic impact on the most students, collaboration with other programs, and potential for sustainability.

Anyone interested in contributing to the instruction grants funds of the Suffolk Education Foundation can send their tax-deductible donation to P.O. Box 394, Suffolk VA  23439-0394.  Please note to which fund your contribution should be credited.  General donations are also accepted to help the Foundation in its other programs, including college scholarships, employee recognitions, and tuition assistance for high school students taking dual-credit college courses.

What is the Suffolk Education Foundation?

The Suffolk Education Foundation (SEF) was founded in 1993 and received its IRS 501(c)(3) status in the same year. Since that time, the board has worked hard by developing a variety of fundraisers to raise additional donations and to ensure that students and staff of Suffolk Public Schools receive scholarships and classroom grants on an annual basis.

The mission of the Suffolk Education Foundation is to support Suffolk Public Schools by connecting the community’s talents and resources to expand educational opportunities for students and staff.  Over the past 20 years, Foundation investment assets have grown to more than $450,000. By supporting Suffolk Public Schools, the Foundation is ensuring that the Suffolk community will have talented leaders and citizens long into the future.

For more information, please contact SEF President Jennifer Schmack at or visit the Foundation’s website at

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Jun 07

2017 Summer PD Series — Registration is Open!

The 2017 Summer PD Series Registration is now open.

Summer PD 2017 Brochure – UPDATED 6.7.17

See pages 4-5 of the brochure for Edivate registration details.

2017SummerPD Series




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Jun 05

Updated Report Card Reminder

For the 2016-2017 school year, all components of the report card must be completed by the following dates:

  • MP1 – November 10
  • MP2 – February 2
  • MP3 – April 18
  • MP4 – June 14 (elementary), June 12 (middle), June 16 (high) – PLEASE NOTE THIS HAS BEEN UPDATED!

For the 2016-2017 school year, the division will transition to the next marking period on the following dates:

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May 31

Add @SufVaSchools

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May 31

Before You Leave Please …

If you are leaving Suffolk Public Schools due to a transfer, promotion, leave of absence, resignation, or retirement; there are several items to resolve BEFORE your Suffolk Public School’s user account is deactivated. Click here for a printable PDF. 

Resignation Flyer (8)

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May 31

ALEX Here to Help You Select Best Plan

Click on the headline to open this post … and find the link that will get you to the ALEX online tool to assist you with understanding your health benefits and to assist you in making a decision so that you will be ready for open enrollment in late September.

    >Remember the new plans and rates do not go into effect until January 2018. 

>You may be prompted to upgrade your Adobe and it is ok to do so. 

ALEX is designed to explain each one of our health benefits, to provide you a side-by-side comparison of the plans, and to give you a best choice of plans based upon the information you enter on how you use the health benefits. We recommend letting him explain each plan offered and then answering his questions several times to see what benefit plans he recommends based upon your different answers. At the end of the questionnaire, he will give you a star by the one he feels is best for you and will show you what your payroll deduction total is for the year, as well as the amount you might spend on deductibles, co-payments, and portions of the billing. Then, he will show you the amount total you may have to pay in case of a catastrophe.


Suffolk Poster Option 3 - Final (1)

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May 30

Thank You for Your Years of Service

This year’s retirees from Suffolk Public Schools were celebrated at the 2017 Retirement Banquet on Thursday, June 1.  The years of service below are those years with Suffolk Public Schools only.

Congratulations to the following retirees

  • Linda Artis, Custodian, PES, 12 years
  • Theresa Beale, Clerk, KFMS, 8 years
  • Randolph Billups, Teacher, LHS, 10 years
  • Janet Bronner, Teacher, HES, 34 years
  • Frances Butler, Teacher Assistant, NSES, 16 years
  • Daryl Chambers, Teacher, JYMS, 38 years
  • Susan Chaney, Bookkeeper, NRHS, 36 years
  • Gwendolyn Chappell, Bus Driver, Transportation, 16 years
  • Alton Christmas, Teacher, JYMS, 16 years
  • Mildred Cooper,  Bus Driver, Transportation, 15 years
  • Sharon Copeland, Teacher, KSES, 27 years
  • Vivian Covington, Principal, JFKMS, 39 years
  • Israel Cross, Custodian, NPES, 10 years
  • John Deloatch, Custodian, KFMS, 38 years
  • Judith Dempsey, Teacher Assistant, OES, 12 years
  • Charlene Dunne, Teacher, FGMS, 8 years
  • Barbara Edwards, Teachers, KFMS, 31 years
  • Phyllis Faulk, Bus Driver, Transportation, 18 years
  • Robert Firek, Technician, Technology Dept., 9 years
  • Patricia Galloway, Teacher, KFMS, 11 years
  • Barbara Gatling, Teacher, PES, 23 years
  • Vickie Gilmet, Teacher, EFES, 27 years
  • James Greene, Operations Foreman, Maintenance, 31 years
  • Kim Harcum, Teacher Assistant, NRHS, 17 years
  • Joan Harrell, Teacher, KFMS, 26 years
  • Sandra Hightower, Teacher, NSES, 17 years
  • Patricia Hillman, Teacher Assistant, JYMS, 15 years
  • Melba Holland, Teacher, BTWES, 31 years
  • Erdie Hutchings, Teacher, HES, 21 years
  • Martha Johnson, Bus Driver, Transportation, 28 years
  • Jane Jones, Teacher Assistant, PES, 8 years
  • Faye Kee, Teacher Assistant, JFKMS, 24 years
  • Chloricia Lake-Myers, Teacher, HES, 30 years
  • Janet Lambert, Teacher, NSES, 19 years
  • Karen Lashells, Teacher, KFMS, 24 years
  • Laurie Lasher, Teacher, FGMS, 12 years
  • Robert Lindemann, Mechanic, Transportation, 18 years
  • Amanda Madison, Cafeteria Associate, OES, 13 years
  • Debra McIntosh, Admin Assistant, NRHS, 29 years
  • Pamela McIntyre, Teacher, LHS, 11 years
  • Alta Mills, Teacher, PES, 30 years
  • Tamara Morings, Teacher, PES, 33 years
  • Julie Moyer, Instructional Specialist, SAO, 34 years
  • Linda Narron, Bus Driver, Transportation, 13 years
  • Esther Paul, Cafeteria Associate, MBES, 40 years
  • Amos Peterson, Teacher, LHS, 17 years
  • Carolyn Ricks, Supervisor, Print Shop, 28 years
  • LaVann Riddick, Custodian, JYMS, 11 years
  • Mary Rollins, Teacher, KFMS, 28 years
  • Paulette Ryans, Teacher, FGMS, 10 years
  • Paula Scott, Speech Pathologist, MBES, 17 years
  • Teresa Shaw, Teacher Assistant, HES, 15 years
  • Alan Stein, Teacher, LHS, 14 years
  • Polly Stevens, Bookkeeper, PES, 30 years
  • Faye Stringfield, Teacher, OES, 20 years
  • Maurice Tennessee, Bus Driver, Transportation, 13 years
  • Barbara Uzzle, Teacher Assistant, LHS, 36 years
  • Anita Warren, Teacher, NPES, 37 years
  • Janice White, Health Services Supervisor, SAO, 43 years
  • Gwendolyn Wiggins, Admin Assistant, KSES, 29 years
  • Catherine Williams, Teacher, LHS, 10 years
  • Bonnie Wright, Teacher Assistant, KFMS, 38 years
  • Gary Yagiello, Teacher, KFHS, 14 years

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May 24

Congratulations to Superintendent’s Star Award Winners for 2nd Semester

Congratulations to 25 division employees who have been named winners of the Superintendent’s Star Award for Second Semester 2016-17.  A recognition reception was held on Tuesday, May 23 at Creekside Elementary School.

Judges consider initiative, school spirit, creativity, commitment, and attitude to recognize those who are making a real difference in the lives of students.

Division-Wide Instructional Staff Award: 
Beth Langston
Fourth-Grade Teacher at Pioneer Elementary School

Division-Wide Support Staff Award:

Anita Reid
Teacher Assistant at Elephant’s Fork Elementary School


May winners sm

Beth Langston was nominated by parent Amber Vann, who called her a “gem to her students, a gem to her peers,” and a gem for Suffolk Public Schools.  She praised Langston’s energy, deep caring, and positive attitude when reaching students, boosting staff morale, and volunteering to improve family engagement.  In the nomination, Vann wrote how she notices “the little things the teacher does to make learning fun and rewarding. Not everyone takes the time to find crafts, incentives, and interactive ideas to make learning fun.” This extra effort often provides the hook to grab the attention of struggling students and to boost their confidence, leading to better grades, she said.  Langston was also applauded for heading the Community School Garden project, teaching her class about agriculture. The hands-on experience of planting, watering, measuring plants, note taking and understanding the importance of how food grows is providing students a wonderful cause-and-effect lesson. She is also Pioneer’s STEM 360 grant leader, working with the Virginia Air & Space Museum which provides classroom experiments in science and engineering, as well as a free field trip to the museum. Vann added: “Ms. Langston works very hard with children who need additional help and support through tutoring, but never shows frustration or attitude, and most certainly does not give up on them .You can tell she takes teaching very seriously and wants the best for all of her students.”


Anita Reid was nominated by fifth-grade teacher Natalie Karakla, who praised Reid’s positive attitude and work ethic.  Working with fifth-graders during reading lessons, Reid “comes in every day with a smile on her face and an uplifting demeanor.  She looks at kids as people and is always willing to put their feelings and needs before anything else.” Karakla recalled how even on dreary, rainy days greeting students as they get off buses in the morning, Ms. Reid demonstrates compassion.  Karakla said one day: “I could hear her greeting the students and laughing with them. The next thing I knew she was walking down the sidewalk holding her umbrella over a student so he and his breakfast wouldn’t get wet.  It is evident she enjoys her time with the kids, helping them, guiding them, teaching them, and most importantly providing comfort for them knowing they can rely on her.”


Support nominees smAdditional Support Staff Honorees

  • Nicole Barrett – Transportation Department bus driver
  • Vera Blakeney – Lakeland High School paraprofessional
  • Christine Bradshaw – Transportation Department bus driver
  • Erika Darden – Nansemond River High School paraprofessional
  • Reginald Darden – Transportation Department bus driver
  • Maurice Fofana – King’s Fork High School part-time coach
  • Bernadette Fraser – Northern Shores Elementary School paraprofessional
  • Mary Neville – Kilby Shores Elementary School head custodian
  • Lillian Willie – Booker T. Washington Elementary School long-term substitute teacher


Instructional nominees smAdditional Instructional Staff Honorees

  • Amy Blyth – Nansemond River High School teacher
  • Lynne Copeland – John Yeates Middle School teacher
  • Alice Cherrix – Creekside Elementary School teacher
  • Lori Cratsley – Forest Glen Middle School teacher
  • Laurie Curtis – John Yeates Middle School teacher
  • Lauren Ertekin – Lakeland High School teacher
  • Keshia Jones – John Yeates Middle School teacher
  • Michelle Mabrey – SPS nursing supervisor
  • Lisa Rath – Pioneer Elementary School assistant principal
  • Scott Reed – Lakeland High School teacher
  • Natalie Rotzler – Forest Glen Middle School teacher
  • Venus Usanga – Elephant’s Fork Elementary School teacher
  • Douglas Wagoner – Lakeland High School principal


The Superintendent’s Star Award program will continue in 2017-18. First semester nominations are due by December 15.  Second semester nominations are due by March 31.

Link here for details on the award program.

Link here for the NOMINATION FORM.

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May 18

Frequently Asked Budget Questions – plus 5-18-17 update

5-18-17 Update:  Open the post, then click here for School Board vote information.



Additional questions about the budget can sent using this CONTACT US form.

2- Why are health care costs rising so much that it will eliminate my proposed raise?

The cost of health care such as doctor visits, prescriptions, surgery, inpatient and outpatient surgery have all been rising across the nation in the double digits annually. SPS has held onto our very rich HMO-90/10 and KeyCare-PPO plans for many years and it is just not possible to sustain them without passing along the “real” cost to employees. It is for this reason, the Health Benefits Committee came up with choices for our employees.  The cost of the plan does not have to eliminate your raise depending upon which plan you choose and how you utilize the benefit. Please remember that you have a choice to pay nearly the same or less for the HMO-80/20 plan or to choose the High Deductible plan and save money toward the health care bills that the deductible would require. Also, remember that this raise is for the entire year whereas the health care increase is only for 6 months of the year. Please utilize the “Alex” tool (available in May 2017) so that you can make the best decision for your particular needs.

1- What happens if City Council only provides $1 million, instead of the $2-million increase requested by the School Board?

The School Board’s budget priority is employee salaries.  Considering the $2 million requested is to go directly to employees’ raises, the percentages of raises will likely be affected.  The board may consider other options.

The City Council will hold its budget public hearing on Wednesday, May 3, beginning at 7 p.m., in City Hall located at 442 W. Washington St.


3- Why does my 2015-2016 raise listed on paper not match what I received?

Any employee with questions about pay should call the Payroll Department at 925-6754.

4- Can’t raises for employees at the School Administrative Offices be frozen and those funds be put to use to increase other employees’ salaries?

Asking for one group to have a freeze to provide another group a raise is unfair on many levels and fosters the mistaken idea that one group of employees is more important than ALL employees.

5- School Administrative Offices is top heavy. Can’t positions there be cut to give employees more money?

Administration, Attendance and Health for surrounding districts.
2017-2018 Proposed Budget Information
Percentage of Operating Budget
Portsmouth                                     5.60%
Norfolk                                              5.40%
Hampton                                            5.29%
York                                              5.10%
Newport News                             4.60%
Suffolk                                          3.90%
Chesapeake                                  3.61%
Virginia Beach                         3.40%

6- Why should our Superintendent earn as much as Superintendents with more students and staff?

All surrounding districts comparable in size are in BOLD ITALIC.


City/County 2016 Students Base Salary Salary per Student
Virginia Beach                       67,890  $            231,400.00                           3.41
Chesapeake                       38,885                215,000.00                           5.53
Norfolk                       29,607                224,000.00                           7.57
Newport News                       27,253                221,723.00                           8.14
Hampton City                       19,749                198,500.00                           1.05
Portsmouth                        14,003                215,000.00                         15.35
Suffolk*                       13,837                200,000.00                         14.45
York                       12,522                188,000.00                         15.01
Williamsburg JCC                       10,272                192,052.00                         18.70
Isle of Wight                         5,314                142,500.00                         26.82
Franklin City                         1,057                111,650.00                       105.63
*This uses Suffolks Superintendent’s 2016-2017 Salary, the data on the other
Superintendent’s salaries for 2016-2017 has not been made available yet.


7- Did the School Board Attorney receive a 10% raise at or around the same time the Superintendent received a raise?

No. The School Board Attorney is a contracted employee and his salary is set annually by the School Board. The published budget document each year is approved with a placeholder of the same raise adopted for all staff, awaiting the letter from the School Board setting the Attorney’s salary. In July 2016, his adopted salary in the budget document was $157,524 — a 2.5% increase over 2015-2016 fiscal year. The School Board set his salary at $161,366 that year so he received an additional 2.5% or a total of 5% increase over the actual salary paid to him in Fiscal 2015-2016.

8- How much do School Board members make and why are they paid anything?

Each member is paid a stipend of $10,000 annually. Virginia Code Section 22.1-32 states that any elected school board may pay each of its members an annual salary that is consistent with the salary procedures and no more than the salary limits provided for local governments in Article 1.1 (§ 15.2-1414.1 et seq.) of Chapter 14 of Title 15.2 or as provided by charter. However, any elected school board of a school division comprised of a county having the county manager plan of government, as provided in § 15.2-702.1 may, after a public hearing pursuant to notice in the manner provided in subdivision 8 of § 22.1-79, set the annual salary of its members at no more than $25,000, except that the annual salary of the chairman, vice-chairman, or both, may exceed $ 25,000.

9- Why isn’t there a teacher in every class instead of long-term subs?

There are many reasons that a school division may need a long-term substitute teacher. Teachers are allowed to be absent for Family Medical Leave under (FMLA) and in such cases a long-term sub is procured as SPS is required to hold the teacher’s position. Recruiting new teachers is essential to any school division. Our Human Resources Department goes out every year to regional colleges to recruit new teachers. In addition, with a shortage of quality teacher applicants, it is not uncommon for school divisions to have a long-term substitutes especially for hard-to-fill positions such as Math, English, and Special Education.

10- Why is the School Board just a rubber stamp of what the Superintendent wants?

Actually, the Superintendent is hired by the School Board and works under their direction. In the case of the budget, the School Board tells the Superintendent their priorities annually and he incorporates them into his proposed budget. The Superintendent does make recommendations based on the data and state/federal guidelines regarding compliance. It is the School Board that votes based upon the information. Many times, School Board members ask questions, gather information, and consult their attorney in order to make the best decision possible for the good of all students and staff in the school division. The School Board meeting is the culmination of all the work that goes into gathering, consulting, and learning about issues.  The board has Work Sessions as a way for information exchanges and in-depth discussion prior to the formal meeting.

11- Why aren’t left over funds from June 30 used to increase pay the following year?

There are many expenses that we are not able to cover in the budget. It has been 10 years since equipment replacement has been a part of our normal budget.  HVAC repairs, replacement of equipment that is over 20 years old, and roofs systems that are out of warranty have not been included in the budget. There is usually some money left at year end but this fluctuates greatly depending upon emergency repairs of aged equipment as described above. Those are one-time expenses. However, payroll expense is a recurring expense and if we do not have budgeted funds guaranteed to cover the cost of contracts, it could result in a reduction of force.

12- Does the School Board give back money every year?

The short answer is yes, a small amount usually less than $30,000. In years where it has been more, a negotiation takes place with the City to re-appropriate it to Capital Improvements or a specific project agreed upon by the City Council and School Board. By law, School Boards are not allowed to keep a fund balance that is unassigned. Assigned fund balances include encumbrances for contracts for goods and services such as textbooks, buses, HVAC summer work, and contracted work that has begun but is not complete by June 30.

13- Did the School Board really give back $600,000 to the City of Suffolk last year?

In late June 2016, the School Board received from Medicaid a letter indicating that they were releasing reserves held for several years. At about this same time, the Virginia Department of Education sent the final numbers for several programs based on participation. Both added together meant that SPS received $661,379 above the Appropriation approved by the City of Suffolk for fiscal 2015-2016. Legally, SPS is not allowed to spend any money that is not appropriated to us. Therefore, since it was too late to get all the approvals, the money was required to be turned over to the City of Suffolk. In late July, SPS received word that the State had not met their revenue projections and the money that was supposed to be given to SPS from the state for our raise in 2016-2017 would probably not materialize. The Superintendent wrote a letter to the City Manager requesting that the $661,379 be re-appropriated to SPS to make up for the shortfall. The City Council approved the ordinance and in February 2017, the School Board approved the decrease in state funding of $616,665 and the increase in city appropriation of $661,379 with the $44,714 difference being budgeted into the materials and supplies line item of the General Education program.

14- Why is the School Board not standing up for teachers and other employees when it comes to raises?

In 2014, the School Board and Superintendent worked with the City of Suffolk to have an outside firm evaluate the pay of ALL Suffolk Public Schools employees. The results of this study were published in February 2015. The School Board and the Superintendent then worked hard to convince the City to fund the more than $3.86 million it would take to fund the first phase of the plan for teachers. State money was prioritized and used to fund support staff phase-ins. Every year for the past six years, salary increases have been the priority of both the School Board and Superintendent. In five of the last six years, there have been raises included in the budget. It is important to point out that SPS is still receiving $3 million LESS money in Fiscal 2017-2018 than we received in Fiscal 2008-2009 from the State. New money from the State and City are not nearly enough to fund appropriate raises. Please see below the magnitude of money it takes to provide even a small raise.

1% Raise $1,254,033
1.5% Raise $1,881,050
2% Raise $2,508,066
2.5% Raise $3,135,083
3.0% Raise $3,762,099


15- What other budget adjustments has the School Board made without Public knowledge?

The School Board adjusts the budget very rarely. All adjustments to budget are reviewed annually by an outside auditor firm which audits all the financial information of the schools and School Administrative Offices. Results of these reports are published annually in the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) that can be found on the City of Suffolk’s website. The School Board has the right to transfer budget from one line to another. In the case of the Superintendent’s salary, a budget transfer was done. Savings from turnover in and restructuring of another executive position was used to fund the increase. This was all done legally and in line with School Board policy.

16- How do I know what Suffolk Public Schools’ is spending their money on?

Each year in the budget document, the first column to each page show the detail by line, object, and program what was actually spent the previous year. In addition, an annual external audit is performed and the results of that audit are published in the City of Suffolk’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report under the Discrete Component Unit section. These external auditors are measuring internal controls to make sure proper authorization is documented before budget is spent, variances in budget versus spending, and compliance with state, federal and local laws and policies. In addition, monthly bills and payroll are a published and are available on the School Board’s agenda by vendor, amount and description.

17- Why are loyal employees at the top of the scale being given the smallest raises? We should be rewarded for our loyalty and service.

All positions within the school division have a salary range, a beginning salary and an ending salary. Once an employee achieves the highest salary paid for a position, it is common practice to supply a Cost of Living (COLA) to that top salary. It is not a matter of value but of market. SPS greatly values ALL of its employees and recognizes that giving step raises every year leaves those at the top of the scale with only a COLA. For this reason, SPS tries to balance years with steps and years with COLA’s.

18- Why isn’t the state raise from the General Assembly enough to cover a raise for Suffolk Public Schools employees?

The state provided funds for a raise of 2% over the two-year biennium budget. The amount in revenue is the prevailing cost (average across the state) of only state Standards of Quality (SOQ) positions (minimum number of mandated positions) to receive a raise no later than February 2017. The revenue provided by the state to SPS is $400,458. The actual cost of a 1% raise for all employees is $1.25 million.

19- Why did Career & Technical Education (CTE) High School get cut so much?

This is not actually a cut. The CTE High School program used to have a budget to help support The Pruden Center. Isle of Wight County Public Schools has decided not to participate in the center so, SPS has evaluated the programs at the Center, renamed it The College and Career Academy at Pruden and will be adding to the programming available in the coming years to meet the needs of our students. The budget was moved to its own page and a detailed budget, much like the other programs, is provided in the budget document to show how the budget will be spent.

20- Why were there so many positions added to the budget?

The change to The College and Career Academy at Pruden accounts 30.6 positions added as those employees become SPS employees as of July 1. The other positions come from changing some part-time positions to full-time, reducing a Dean of Students position, and hiring an Assistant Principal position. Two Physical Therapists were added and the budget transferred from Purchased Services where they were previously outsourced. The special education program added a teacher to meet student needs, and two teacher assistants.

21- Why do benefits make up almost 25% of the budget?

Benefits for public school employees are almost entirely mandated by the state or federal governments. The Federally Insured Contributions Act (FICA) is federally mandated. Retirement employer contributions are set by the General Assembly and next year, will be 17.55% for professional employees (teachers group). Group life insurance is also mandated at 1.32% of salary by the General Assembly. The cost of health care is skyrocketing across the nation and SPS is not immune. SPS is making several changes this year that we believe will make the plans offered more sustainable for the division to offer.

22- There is a line item for Non-departmental. What kind of items would fit under that category?

Non-departmental refers to items that do not fit in a single department or program and need to be allocated over many departments or programs. One example is annual and/or sick leave pay-outs for employees who are leaving or retiring. We do not know which departments/programs will be affected and since we do not have enough money to budget for each one, we budget the approximate amount here and allocate the funds after we make the pay-outs. Unemployment costs are another area where it is not known which departments/programs will be affected and we do not budget each one but wait and allocate at year end. School Specialty purchasing cards for classroom materials that touch every program of instruction are budgeted here. The Community in Schools program that isn’t specifically instructional is also budgeted here. A small equipment replacement on emergency basis for copiers is also placed here as we do not have enough to budget equipment replacement on a rotating basis.

23- Why is so much being spent on Textbooks?

The state mandates a specific amount each year for the purchase of textbooks, workbooks, and consumables used in the classroom with regard to textbooks. This item also covers lost/stolen books, any new adoptions, replacement textbooks, and additional textbooks needed if class sizes for a particular book are higher than expected. If we do not spend this amount plus the amount we are required to match it, then we must refuse the state revenue funding.

24- Explain Alternative Education on page 73 “Share Joint Operations”

The budgeted amount of $70,000 is for the SECEP alternative education program costs due when children are assigned to this SECEP program. SECEP is the Southeastern Cooperative Education Program for certain special needs students.





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