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2014-2-28

Full-time governor’s schools ask for almost $3 million

By Liz Butterfield, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — Full-time governor’s schools in Virginia are requesting an additional $2.9 million from the state this year to correct a funding disparity in the budget formula between part-time and full-time governor’s schools.

Parent-Teacher-Student Association members of the Appomattox Regional Governor's school and the Maggie Walker Governor's School are leading an advocacy effort proposing the amendments.

The funding formula currently in place gives full-time governor’s schools in Virginia only 15 percent more funding than part-time schools, which is not enough to encourage growth or continued much-needed programs, according to Marianne Macon, advocacy chair of the Maggie Walker PTSA.  "In effect, the current formula discourages full-day programs," Macon said. "The state has been providing planning grants for new governor's schools -- new full-day schools -- and the planning is in the works, but the actual realization of the schools -- and the continued possibility of the schools being financially viable for their region -- is really, in my opinion, dependent on the correction of the formula."

House budget item 136 1H and Senate budget item 136 2S are patroned by Delegate Tag Greason, R-Lansdowne, and Sen. Richard Saslaw, D-Springfield, respectively. The items were spearheaded by concerned parents of the schools.  “When this was brought to my attention I thought, wow, these are supposed to be the best and brightest of our schools, but yet we’re underfunding them,” Greason said. “I think literally the mechanics of the funding formula have shortchanged the schools so we put in a budget amendment to try and fix that.”

The House version of the budget item requests a study of the funding formula for the schools for a long term solution, Greason said.  The budget amendments aim to correct the funding disparity between full-time governor’s schools and part-time governor’s schools in the state, which has been in place for more than a decade, Macon said.  If the amendment is added to the budget, $2.9 million would be allotted to the schools for school year 2014-2015 between the three schools.

The budget problems at the schools have been building since 2009, and Maggie Walker still is down about 15 percent in overall revenue funding from state and local funding since 2009, Macon said.  "There is such great demand for these schools I think there would be progress in establishing more if the funding was stabilized and equalized," said PTSA advocacy committee member Laura O'Brien.

The additional money would be put towards updating technology, textbooks and needed security changes around the schools, Macon said.  The Maggie Walker School has had to cut its part-time security staff and does not have a full-time school resource officer, Macon said.  "We've had to cut back in that area," Macon said.  The school also has had to pay for recent updates in its security cameras.

Bringing additional funding from the state will allow programs at the Appomattox governor’s school to strengthen, said Sherrill Hankins, PTSA advocacy chair at the Appomattox Regional Governor's School. The funding may go to "maintaining key teachers who will come or are attracted to come teach in these focus areas," she said.

Teacher salaries must be approved by the regional school boards, which vote on their own budgets annually.

The amendments were not included in the governor’s original proposed budget

CoCoRaHS Program Conducting a “March Madness” Recruiting Effort

The National Weather Service in Wakefield, VA is currently looking for volunteers to join the CoCoRaHS program during a “March Madness” recruiting effort.      

CoCoRaHS stands for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow network and was established in 1998 in the aftermath of the Fort Collins, CO flash flood that occurred in July 1997.  This program consists of a unique, non-profit, community-based network of volunteers who take daily weather measurements in their backyards and record the information on the CoCoRaHS website (www.cocorahs.org).  Observations are then immediately available in map and table form for the National Weather Service and the public to view. 

There are several counties throughout Eastern Virginia that have zero to less than five observers actively reporting.  During last year’s contest, we were able to pick up 17 total observers as well as provide information within 5 counties/incorporated cities that had zero observers previously. 

In order to expand this beneficial observing network, we are counting on YOU!  By becoming a CoCoRaHS observer, you will provide crucial precipitation information that fills data gaps among other observation networks.  Weather enthusiasts of all ages are welcome to join CoCoRaHS and are encouraged to read more information about the program at www.cocorahs.org before deciding to volunteer.  If you have any questions about CoCoRaHS, please contact Bridget De Rosa at (757) 899-4200.

On the Web:

NOAA:  http://www.noaa.gov

National Weather Service:  http://www.weather.gov

CoCoRaHS Program:  http://www.cocorahs.org

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IST Program at SVCC Leads To Careers

“I don’t think Southside Virginia Community College gets nearly enough credit.  The professors are knowledgeable and approachable.  The classes are challenging and I never felt like I was wasting my time or not learning enough in class,” is how one student in the Information Systems Technology program describes the local college.

Jean Lucas continues, “As a busy mom, one of the main reasons I chose SVCC was the availability of so many online and evening classes.  I don’t think most people realize the quality and variety of programs that are offered at SVCC.”

Lucas is a 2013 Summa Cum Laude graduate with the Associate of Applied Science degree in IST.  She is currently participating in an internship at Kinex Telecom in Farmville, Virginia, a local telecommunications company specializing in telephone and internet services serving southern Virginia.    Kinex also repairs computers for businesses and individuals and is a partner and supporter of the Information Systems Technology program at SVCCKinex also provides a representative to serve on the Advisory Committee at the college for Information Technology. 

Lucas is putting her classroom knowledge to work in a hands-on environment in the area of computer repair and troubleshooting.  She is Microsoft Office Specialist certified in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

“When I contacted Joan Tuck with SVCC and explained that I was looking for an intern, I never expected to have someone of Jean Lucas’ caliber apply.  Jean came to us, mild, friendly and with a beautiful smile. Jean is a highly talented and a dedicated professional who is helpful and intuitive.    Her technical experience is strong and her organizational skills are invaluable.  She has effectively demonstrated her learned professional and technical abilities from SVCC.  We are happy to have her working with our team and recognize the valuable service SVCC offers our communities,” said Lorraine G. Carter, General Manager, Kinex Telecom, Inc.

Another successful IST student is Oscar Ramirez (pictured) of Buffalo Junction, Virginia who is a 2011 graduate of Bluestone High School.  He completed his Associate in Applied Science degree at Southside Virginia Community College in December 2013 and has been hired full-time by Atos, an international Information Technology services company, in Boydton, Virginia as a data center entry-level technician.  Ramirez received his Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) certification in Security Fundamentals while taking classes at SVCC.

According to Joan Tuck, Professor, Information Technology for the Daniel Campus, “the Information Technology field changes rapidly and is an exciting career choice for many people, especially those who enjoy a hands-on, challenging, problem-solving environment.   The faculty in the Information Technology Department are dedicated and committed to the success of our students.”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the national median pay for computer support specialists is $46,260.  The national median pay for network support specialists is slightly higher at $59,090.  Computer support specialists provide installation, repairs, updates, help, and advice to people and organizations using computer software or equipment.  Network support specialists analyze, test, troubleshoot, and evaluate existing network systems, such as local area networks (LAN), wide area networks (WAN), and Internet systems. They also perform network maintenance to ensure networks operate correctly with minimal interruption. 

SVCC has a robust associate degree program in Information Systems Technology with a variety of classes that include application software, operating systems, web design, programming, PC hardware troubleshooting and repair, networking, and security.   A networking specialization within the associate degree program is also available.  Many of the courses prepare students for industry certifications that are valuable in information technology careers. 

For information, see the website at www.southside.edu

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SVCC Announces Agri-Business Class In Emporia

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