City of Norfolk School Board acts on several important items

The School Board of the City of Norfolk acted on several important items during its meeting on March 16, 2022.

Below you will find details of the School Board’s actions on the Superintendent’s Proposed Operating Budget for fiscal year 2022-2023; the school transition plan outlined in the 10-year long-range facility use plan; masking mandates on school buses and for staff and visitors on Norfolk Public Schools’ properties, and the Academic Calendar for the 2022-2023 school year.

The budget approved; heads to Norfolk City Council

The Norfolk School Board voted to approve the Superintendent’s Proposed Operating Budget of $376.7 million for the fiscal year 2022-2023. This budget represents a 6.2% increase over the current fiscal year and contains substantive recommendations to provide students and schools with additional support. It is also designed to offer staff competitive salary and benefits packages.

The School Board must submit its budget to the Norfolk City Council for consideration by April 1. City Council will adopt its municipal budget, which includes a budget for schools, in May. The 2022-2023 fiscal year for both the schools and the City begins on July 1, 2022 and ends on June 30, 2023.

The school division’s operating budget is the largest part of an overall expenditure plan, which also includes a number of other funds. The operating budget, as its name implies, underwrites the daily cost of operating schools, from paying salaries to purchasing school supplies. The other funds include the NPS school nutrition program; grants and special programs; federal funding designed to address the negative impact the coronavirus has had on schools; and the capital improvement program (CIP) which underwrites the cost of large-scale building, renovation, and repair efforts.

School transition plan

The City of Norfolk School Board voted to move forward with some recommendations for school transitions as part of the division’s comprehensive, 10-year facilities plan.

The transitions approved by the school board include:

  • Easton Preschool will close, and students enrolled there will transition for the 2022-2023 school year to the site of the former Fairlawn Elementary School, which is currently vacant.
  • Tidewater Park Elementary School will close at the end of the 2022-2023 school year. Students there will transition to Ruffner Middle, which will be repurposed from a traditional middle school to a combined school for grades 3 through 8 during the 2023-2024 school year. The 2022-2023 school year will be a planning year for this transition. Ruffner School for grades 3-8 will include a division-wide choice program.

School Board members voted against a recommendation to close Lindenwood Elementary School and transition its students to W.H. Taylor and Willard Elementary Schools. A related plan to close the current Madison Alternative Center facility and transition students enrolled there to the Lindenwood site also did not move forward.

The administration of Norfolk Public Schools will begin working with the staff and families of Easton Preschool to prepare for the transition and the accompanying moves of students, staff, equipment, and materials. NPS will provide updates and information to families and students affected by the transitions. Details of planning for the Ruffner transition to a 3-8 school with a choice component will be provided soon. 

Full details of Norfolk Public Schools’ long-range facilities plan, “Rebuild NPS 2030,” can be found on the school division’s website. Additionally, documents from School Board discussions of this plan can be found in its records, posted under the “Meetings and Information” tab on the School Board’s section of npsk12.com, and videos of past meetings can be found on the school division’s YouTube channel.   

Masking mandates eliminated

The City of Norfolk School Board voted to end mandates that required students to wear masks on school buses. Additionally, bus drivers, bus attendants, staff and visitors to Norfolk Public Schools’ buildings and schools are no longer required to wear masks. Both actions take effect on March 18, 2022.

The School Board’s resolution states that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has eliminated the federal requirement that students must wear masks while on school buses and has updated its guidance regarding masking against COVID-19.

The resolution encourages families to decide whether to mask while on NPS property. However, it gives Superintendent Dr. Sharon I. Byrdsong the authority to temporarily re-impose mask requirements if needed to follow the recommendations of the CDC, reporting as soon as possible on the decision to the School Board.

Norfolk Public Schools will continue to follow guidance from the CDC to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in public schools and on school buses.

Academic calendar

The City of Norfolk School Board voted to approve an Academic Calendar for the 2022-2023 school year.

Four academic calendar options were developed by the calendar committee with input from the NPS Teacher Forum.

Once developed, the group sought community input and received more than 2,200 survey responses. Academic Calendar Option 1 received the majority of votes. The School Board voted to approve the Academic Calendar Option 1 with a modification to move a holiday scheduled for Monday, January 2, 2023, to March 13, 2023.  

Other highlights of the approved calendar include:
  • First day of school – September 6, 2022
  • Teacher workday/Asynchronous student learning day – October 7, 2022
  • Teacher workday – November 8, 2022
  • Veterans Day – November 11, 2022
  • Three full days for Thanksgiving holiday – November 23 – 25, 2022
  • Two full weeks for Winter Break – December 19, 2022 – December 30, 2022 (This item was changed by the School Board to shift a holiday from January 2, 2023, to March 13, 2023.)
  • Teacher workday between semesters on January 30, 2023
  • Teacher workday/Asynchronous student learning day – March 10, 2023
  • NPS CLOSED March 13, 2023 (Moved from January 2, 2023)
  • Teacher workday – April 7, 2023
  • Spring Break – April 10 – 14, 2023
  • Teacher workday/Asynchronous student learning day – May 12, 2023
  • Last day of school for students and teachers – June 16, 2023
  • The official calendar will be posted on the NPS website next week.
School Board approves bonus payment to employees

At the recommendation of Superintendent Dr. Sharon I. Byrdsong, the City of Norfolk School Board approved a bonus payment of $2,500 for full-time contracted employees; long-term substitute teachers; long-term substitute teacher assistants; part-time bus drivers; part-time bus attendants; custodial substitutes; school nutrition assistants; school nutrition assistant substitutes; and lunchroom monitors.

These bonus payments “provide a reward that underscores our appreciation,” Dr. Byrdsong said, “for the tremendous efforts of NPS’ employees during the continued pandemic this school year. A $2,500 bonus is a very tangible statement of our thanks to our employees for their continued hard work.”

Most employees who have been employed by NPS since September 2021 will net approximately $1,615 after taxes and other deductions. Funding to provide the bonuses is available within the existing operating budget for wages and benefits due to extensive vacant positions.

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