School Board meets on eve of students’ return to school

Published 10:36 pm Wednesday, March 10, 2021

When the Suffolk School Board meets for its March 11 meeting at City Hall, it will be four days away from the day when some elementary students will return to school for the first time in more than a year.

Since mid-March 2020, Suffolk Public Schools students have been in virtual learning, though some students in specialized programs have returned to school for one to two days per week.

And while discussion of health metrics is on the agenda for the meeting, Superintendent Dr. John B. Gordon III and the board will also get feedback on the budget during a public hearing on the topic. Executive Director of Finance will update the board on the approved General Assembly budget and changes to the proposed $193.8 million budget. As of March 10, nine people had signed up to speak during the budget public hearing.

Forsman’s presentation is expected to highlight, among other things, changes in the salary scale for teachers with raises ranging from 4% to 6%, with the rate for bus drivers proposed to increase from $12.80 to $14.60 per hour, equal to a 14% raise.

The board is also expected to hold a special meeting at 6 p.m. March 25 at Col. Fred Cherry Middle School for a budget work session as well as discussion and adoption of Gordon’s proposed 2021-2022 budget.

Also on the agenda is the memorandum of understanding between SPS, the Suffolk Police Department and the Suffolk Department of Social Services, which sets guidelines for interviews of students by Suffolk Police and Social Service agencies, as well as the results of the Educate and Innovate virtual learning survey, details about the division’s proposed summer school programs and 14 ordinances.

It also includes the proposed settlement agreement in the Freedom of Information Act case between the School Board and member Sherri Story. The board must approve it for it to take effect. It stipulates that the board will pay Story’s attorney fees of $20,000 to Bischoff Martingayle. Attorney Kevin Martingayle has represented Story during her two FOIA lawsuits against the board.

At this meeting, former mayor and newly appointed Sleepy Hole Borough member Linda Johnson will take the oath of office, and three will be a recognition of Lakeland High School honor graduates.

The agenda for the March 11 meeting can be found at https://suffolk.ic-board.com/public_agendaview.aspx?mtgId=492. The meeting begins at 5 p.m. Following Johnson’s oath, it is expected to go into closed session and reconvene at 6 p.m. to recognize the honor graduates before the public budget hearing is to begin at 7 p.m.