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 jschmack@suffolkva.us or visit the Foundation’s website at www.suffolkeducationfoundation.org

Permanent link to this article: http://staff.spsk12.net/2017/06/08/5859/

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




Permanent link to this article: http://staff.spsk12.net/2017/06/07/2017-summer-pd-series-coming-soon/

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:

Permanent link to this article: http://staff.spsk12.net/2017/06/05/updated-report-card-reminder/

May 31

Add @SufVaSchools

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Permanent link to this article: http://staff.spsk12.net/2017/05/31/share-with/

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)

Permanent link to this article: http://staff.spsk12.net/2017/05/31/before-you-leave-please/

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)

Permanent link to this article: http://staff.spsk12.net/2017/05/31/alex-here-to-help-you-select-best-plan/

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

Permanent link to this article: http://staff.spsk12.net/2017/05/30/thank-you-for-your-years-of-service/

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.

Permanent link to this article: http://staff.spsk12.net/2017/05/24/superintendents-star-award-winners-to-be-celebrated-feb-2/

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.





Permanent link to this article: http://staff.spsk12.net/2017/05/18/frequently-asked-budget-questions/

May 15

Become a 2017-18 Cooperating Teacher or Counselor

Cooperating Teacher Flyer 2017-18

Permanent link to this article: http://staff.spsk12.net/2017/05/15/cooperatingteachercounselor1718/

May 09

Try a Techie Resource

The end of the school year is a great time to experiment with an instructional technology resource. But there are so many cool techie resources and never enough time to learn them all. Maybe you would like help implementing a resource like Kahoot, Socrative, Poll Everywhere, or Google Classroom. Maybe you’d like to have your students write a “Choose Your Own Adventure” with Google Forms or become a published author using Google Slides to write an eBook. We are looking to work with teachers as they explore new tools in the classroom. We will come work with you as you take the first step. To request support, complete this form:

Tech Resource Support Request

Permanent link to this article: http://staff.spsk12.net/2017/05/09/try-a-techie-resource/

May 09

VRS Offering Two Seminars

Workshops will be held on Thursday, May 18 at Tidewater Community College, Portsmouth Campus.

The Virginia Retirement System (VRS) is hosting two sessions for to members and their guests.

Link here for a flyer with the information below.

Building Retirement Security Workshop

Do you have financial goals? Perhaps you’d like to reduce your debt, start a family or establish a savings plan for a major purchase or retirement. Join us for this half-day seminar, featuring industry professionals who will cover a range of topics including credit and debt management, protecting your finances and retirement planning.

  • Thursday, May 18, 2017 *
  • 8 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
  • Tidewater Community College, Portsmouth Campus
  • Building A, Forum, 120 Campus Drive, Portsmouth 23701
  • (757) 822-1234

    * Program delivery is subject to adequate registration levels.


Are You on Track? 

This presentation for current Plan 1 and Plan 2 members (hired before January 1, 2014) educates you on your VRS membership and the importance of planning now for your future. Topics include an overview of your VRS benefits and optional programs, purchase of prior service and member resources such as our online self-service tool, myVRS.

  •  Thursday, May 18, 2017 *
  • 2 p.m. – 3 p.m.
  • Tidewater Community College, Portsmouth Campus
  • Building A, Forum, 120 Campus Drive, Portsmouth 23701
  • (757) 822-1234

    * Program delivery is subject to adequate registration levels.


To register for a VRS Session, visit our website at http://www.varetire.org/members/education/index.asp

You can register via e-mail-just click on the link provided


Permanent link to this article: http://staff.spsk12.net/2017/05/09/vrs-offering-seminars-on-planning-for-retirement/

May 06

2017 City-Wide Teachers of the Year Celebrated

Click on the headline to get connected … View the 2017 Teachers of the Year video, highlighting the top city-wide winners.  Suffolk classrooms are staffed by amazing teachers. Students remember their favorite teachers’ names, even years later because they were taught, encouraged and inspired. Help us celebrate the 2016-17 Suffolk Teachers of the Year.  Take a look into the classrooms of Suffolk City-Wide Teacher of the Year Andrae Riddick, a special education math teacher at King’s Fork High School, Elementary School Teacher of the Year Natalie Street who teaches 3rd grade at Creekside Elementary, Middle School Teacher of the Year Emma Neave who teaches 8th grade English at John F. Kennedy, and Rookie Teacher of the Year Sabrina Hayes, who teaches English at John Yeates Middle School. Congratulations!

YouTube Link:  https://youtu.be/xR-V9i7bDgs


School-level winners were also celebrated at a banquet on May 2.  They include:


Schools: Teacher of the Year Rookie Teacher of the Year
BTWES Jennifer Owens Kaylie Chadwick
CES Natalie Street Amanda Giarratano
DES Brittany Brombacher N/A
EFES Brian Van der Linden Michael Parham
HES Brandy Roberts Taylor McBride
KSES Austin Kulp Jodi Gray
MBJES Jeffrey Seneca Caitlyn Curry
NPES Nicole Shimek Jamie Guthrie
NSES Bethany Forbes N/A
OES Mary Griffith N/A
PES Beth Langston N/A
FGMS Brittini Jones Matthews N/A
JFKMS Emma Neave Aneesha Green
JYMS Leslie Bulger Sabrina Hayes
KFMS Monica Vaughan Sarah Stewart
KFHS Andrae Riddick Heather Kneisler
LHS Sarah McDonald Jaleel Nelson
NRHS Jennifer Davis Candace Credle
TWS Glenda Jones Janay Bradford



Congratulations to Andrae Riddick, a special education teacher at King’s Fork High School, who has been selected as Suffolk Public Schools’ 2017 City-Wide Teacher of the Year.


Congratulations also to Emma Neave of John F. Kennedy Middle School, who was named Middle School Teacher of the Year … Natalie Street of Creekside Elementary School, who was named Elementary School Teacher of the Year … and Sabrina Hayes of John Yeates Middle School, who was selected as Rookie Teacher of the Year.


CW_TOY_KFHSNow in his fourth year of teaching, Riddick is known for his creativity, charisma, leadership, and teaching style.  But it is his connections with students that bring him the most praise from colleagues, and the most personal pride.  “I live by the saying that every child is just one caring adult away from being a success story,” Riddick said.


A 2006 graduate of Nansemond River High School, Riddick has worked at King’s Fork High School for six years – first as a special education paraprofessional and now as a classroom teacher.  He co-teaches geometry under the inclusion model, where students with special needs are included in a regular math class.  Colleagues said a classroom visitor would find it difficult to discern between him and the general education teacher because both work with all the students in the classroom as “true co-teachers.”  Riddick explained that he shows students how “geometry is not just a random math class they have to take,” but how geometry concepts are used every day.


Principal Dr. Ronald Leigh said Riddick’s role as the school’s Service Learning Coordinator is “where he has done his best work … where he has brought pride and distinction to our school through the outreach he has provided” to two local elementary schools.  Service Learning integrates academic work with community service, allowing students to apply classroom knowledge to real life by getting hands-on experience in the community.  This year, Riddick revived the “K9 Konnection” program through the Service Learning class he now teaches.  KFHS Bulldogs in this program volunteer weekly at Elephant’s Fork Elementary and Hillpoint Elementary as lunch buddies, classroom helpers, recess monitors, and role models for future Bulldogs.


Assistant Principal Kimberly Warholak said Riddick’s “commitment to success for his students is demonstrated on a daily basis when he uses his planning time to work one-to-one with students who are struggling academically or with students who are dealing with a social situation and need someone to listen and offer sound advice.”  Fellow teacher Brendy White added:  “He has been an influential part in the successful improvements of many students’ attendance, behavior, and overall attitude.  Being a mentor and positive male figure is very important in our school environment, as well as in the community, and he has taken on this challenge with great dignity and honor.”


Riddick earned his bachelor’s degree from North Carolina A&T State University and his master’s degree from Old Dominion University.



MS_ TOYEmma Neave, an 8th-grade English teacher at John F. Kennedy Middle School, has been named the 2017 Middle School Teacher of the Year for Suffolk Public Schools.  In the classroom for four years, Neave is known for her determination, leadership, and quiet but passionate enthusiasm for teaching.


A colleague said that Neave has a special ability “to take a struggling student and make them shine.  When a student leaves her room, they know they have learned and accomplished way more than they thought they ever could.” According to a current student who also had Neave in 7th-grade:  “Each and every lesson that takes place in our classroom is dynamic and stimulating … She effectively teaches us everything we need to know and more.”


Principal Vivian Covington said Neave is “the type of person that would never draw attention to herself or to the work she has completed over the years … a testament to her humble countenance.”


In describing her teaching philosophy, Neave said she firmly believes “every individual has the ability to learn, and as educators, it is our responsibility to ensure that each child has the proper scaffolding, support, tools, and encouragement to reach their full potential.  Every student is smart in their own way, and it is up to the teacher to draw upon each students’ strengths while helping them improve in areas of weakness.”


She wrote in her application:  “No one is in teaching for the monetary or material rewards, which we know are few.  Instead, I find my joy in the intrinsic rewards of teaching.  Many days are a struggle with multiple forces that threaten to derail my students.  I have learned to find my peace in the small victories:  a special needs student’s explosive joy at achieving mastery on a benchmark test, being able to write feedback on a student’s writing that shows remarkable growth, or a comment from a colleague that my students were raving about a recent lesson.”


Beyond the classroom, she mentors new teachers and sponsors the Junior Beta Club.  Neave earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Sweet Briar College.



TOY+BrennanNatalie Street, a third-grade teacher at Creekside Elementary, has been named the 2017 Elementary School Teacher of the Year for Suffolk Public Schools.  In the classroom for eight years, she is known for her dedication and optimism, and has been called a natural born leader.


A colleague applauded Street’s high standards for all students in her class, while also creating a positive, family atmosphere in her classroom:  “She doesn’t allow excuses by students for not meeting or exceeding goals.  Her organizational skills, thoroughness, and willingness to collaborate with colleagues makes her the perfect teacher leader.”


In describing her efforts to show that learning can be fun, Street says she’s taught on top of tables, done cartwheels down the hall, spoken in funny accents, “made fun of myself, said I’m sorry a thousand times, and even cried with my students.  I’ve told students my hardships and mistakes, while teaching them how to set goals and overcome mistakes.  My philosophy of teaching is expressed through using a motivating balance of engagement, strong work ethic, and a sense of belonging.”


A parent said that Street “not only taught my son the third grade curriculum, she taught him that learning was fun, and the harder you work the bigger the reward.  She taught him that a great work ethic and mastering the fundamentals will make you a success at anything you do.”


Street has worked hard to rebuild the Suffolk Reading Council, an organization dedicated to the promotion of literacy in schools and the community, and currently serves as its president.  The Council has hosted two Saturday mini-conferences for local teachers and sponsored a division-wide book drive to donate books to homeless shelters, day care centers, and doctors’ offices.


Beyond the classroom, Street sponsors the Gator Gardening Club, helping students learn about plants first-hand as they work in the community garden at their school.


Street earned her bachelor’s degree from Ohio State University, and her master’s degree from the University of Notre Dame, Maryland.



Rookie_tOY2Congratulations to Sabrina Hayes, an 8th-grade English teacher at John Yeates Middle School, who has been named the 2017 City-Wide Rookie Teacher of the Year.


Hayes started in January 2016, taking over for a teacher who left.  A veteran teacher told her “there is only one first-year of teaching.”  Hayes said that advice “served as a constant reminder for me to establish a solid baseline for the following years to come, and to learn as much as I could.  I knew that going into the first year of teaching would have a number of daunting barriers and challenges, but going into the middle of the school was difficult. It forced me to adapt and overcome quickly.”


Principal Shawn Green said Hayes is “highly motivated, reliable, and always willing to extend beyond what is expected of her.” Because of her youth, she quickly become a peer leader in instructional technology, helping her colleagues get comfortable with the school’s new “Bring Your Own Device” program.  This option allowed students to use mobile technology for learning.


A fellow teacher said Hayes “created a comfortable but structured atmosphere in which students can learn, and a very positive but professional relationship with her students.  They feel comfortable coming to her with concerns or problems and she is kind and firm with them as a teacher, not a ‘friend’ which is difficult for many first-year teachers to accomplish.”


According to one of Hayes’ students: “It is painstakingly obvious that she loves teaching, which inspires others to learn because of how passionate she sounds when teaching.  She tells us that she could never see herself doing anything else.”


Beyond the classroom, Hayes sponsors the student recycling club and started an after-school writing club.  She earned her bachelor’s degree from Old Dominion University.



The selection committee included the three former Teachers of the Year as well as a representative from a local business organization and a representative from the Suffolk Education Foundation.



Permanent link to this article: http://staff.spsk12.net/2017/05/06/2017-city-wide-teachers-of-the-year-announced/

Apr 28

The Doctor Will See You Now…On Your Computer, Smart Phone or Tablet

LiveHealth Online gives you quick, easy access to a doctor 24/7!
Starting the week of May 1st, Anthem members will get a series of campaign communications from Anthem about LiveHealth Online.  Members who sign up for LiveHealth Online during the campaign get a chance to win the grand prize, a $500 Amazon gift card.  Ten runners-up will win a $25 Amazon gift card.Anthem wants to teach members about the value online visits using LiveHealth Online can give them, and encourage them to sign up for it.What is LiveHealth Online?

Using LiveHealth Online, your employees can have a video visit with a board-certified doctor 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year on their smartphone, tablet or computer. It’s quick and easy to use — they just have to sign up to create a LiveHealth Online account.

Click here for more information.

After signing up, they can:

  • Get access to a board-certified doctor 24/7: When their own doctor isn’t available, they can use LiveHealth Online to get care for colds, flu, sore throats and more! Doctors can give a diagnosis and send prescriptions to the member’s pharmacy of choice, if needed.Doctors using LiveHealth Online typically charge $49 or less per visit, depending on the health plan.
  • Visit with a licensed therapist: If members are anxious or having a tough time coping, they can use LiveHealth Online to talk with a therapist from the comfort and privacy of home. In most cases, they can make an appointment and see a therapist in four days or less.  Appointments are available seven days a week and cost the same as an in-person office visit.

How does LiveHealth Online work?
Getting started is easy. Members just go to livehealthonline.com or download the Android or iOs app to sign up and set up a profile. After they create an account, members can use LiveHealth Online to have a video visit with a doctor or therapist of their choice. To see a doctor, they select LiveHealth Online Medical to view the doctors they can visit with. After they select a doctor, they’ll need to give a reason for their visit and a summary of their health history. Then they’ll need to choose a pharmacy to use, if a prescription is needed. Next they’ll be asked to enter their health plan and credit card information, if there is a cost for the visit. Then they’ll be placed in a virtual waiting room until the doctor is ready to meet with them – the average wait time is about 10 minutes or less.

For a therapy visit, they select LiveHealth Online Psychology to choose the licensed therapist or psychologist they want to meet with. Then they schedule an appointment by calling 1-844-784-8409 between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. Or they can schedule online by selecting the appointment tab. In most cases, they can make an appointment and see a therapist in four days or less.2

Is LiveHealth Online a covered benefit?
For members in participating health plans, online visits using LiveHealth Online are a covered benefit. Doctors using LiveHealth Online typically charge $49 or less per visit, depending on the health plan. And online therapy visits usually cost the same as an in-person therapy office visit.

Can non-members use LiveHealth Online?
Yes, LiveHealth Online is available to anyone. So your employees, family and friends who aren’t members can use it, too, by paying the full cost of the visit.

When can members see a doctor or therapist using LiveHealth Online?
Doctors are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Therapists are available by appointment seven days a week, and members can schedule appointments online or by calling 1-844-784-8409 between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m.

Permanent link to this article: http://staff.spsk12.net/2017/04/28/the-doctor-will-see-you-nowon-your-computer-smart-phone-or-tablet/

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