During its Monday meeting, the Orange County Schools Board of Education approved its Local Operating Budget for the fiscal year 2024.
- The budget was discussed and approved by the Board of Education and was sent to the Orange County Board of County Commissioners for review.
- The board approved a budget of $48.63 million for the 2024 fiscal year. This budget is an approximate $10.05 million increase from the fiscal year 2023 budget, which was $38.57 million.
- The budget included adding three school nurses, local field trips for students and another fifth-grade dual-language teacher at New Hope Elementary School.
- The $10.05 million budget increase is made up of a $2.2 million continuation budget and a $7.8 million expansion budget.
- The expansion budget included about $2 million to increase current licensed and certified supplement tiers.
- The board approved a salary step scale increase to 1 percent between each step as part of the expansion, which added $2 million to the budget.
- Cheryl Allread was the lead evaluator working for Cognia to help OCS with its accreditation — a process that determines if an educational program is satisfactory.
- Allread said accreditation is an international protocol that improves student learning and efficiency in schools or school systems.
- "We actually use these same standards in evaluating schools and school systems in over 70 foreign countries," Allread said.
- She said there is a rubric for rating the different categories on what to improve in the schools, on a scale of one to four.
- A four on the scale means the school demonstrated noteworthy systematic and systemic practices to produce clear results that positively impact learners, Allread said. A rating of one means there is insufficient evidence and limited activity toward improvement.
- There are usually many twos in the average engagement review for a school, Allread said. She said for OCS to have such high reviews is "exceptional."
- "This is highly unlikely to occur in most engagement reviews for accreditation," she said.
- She said the index of education quality is a holistic measure of an institution's overall performance, and that OCS' IEQ was rated a 355 out of 400.
- "The district is now fully accredited for the next six years," Monique Felder, the superintendent of OCS, said. "This valuable mark of distinction is recognized around the world."
- A robotics team, made up of students from Orange High School and Cedar Ridge High School, called The Hedgehogs, was recognized for winning its second consecutive statewide For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology robotics championship and the FIRST Impact Award.
- The Hedgehogs also earned an invitation to compete at an international competition with robotics teams from all over the world.
- "A lot of what we have done this year would not have been possible without the support we have received from our community and our schools," Stuart Doyle, a student at Orange High School and co-captain of The Hedgehogs, said.
- One teacher from each of the 13 schools in OCS was recognized as teacher of the year.
- "There is absolutely, positively no substitute for a great teacher," Felder said.
The board's next meeting is on April 24 at 7 p.m.