- Stafford County Public Schools
- Frequently Asked Questions
Why do public school boards exist?
The Constitution of Virginia charges school boards with the supervision of schools. State law and regulations of the state Board of Education also grant certain powers, duties,and responsibilities to school boards.
What do school boards do?
School boards are a governance body that may be elected or appointed. In Stafford County, the board is elected and has seven (7) members.
School boards act as a corporate body. That is, only the board as a group has any powers or authority to act. In most instances, it takes a majority vote (4 board members) for a board action to be approved. Individual school board members are not vested with any powers, except those assigned by the school board as a whole.
Specific duties of the Stafford County School Board are outlined in Policy 1103 (School Board Authority, Duties, and Responsibilities)
What is governance and how does a school board govern?
Governance refers to overseeing the control and direction of something. There are several important mechanisms that a school board uses to govern, including:
- The Mission: describes the fundamental purpose.
- The Vision: represents the aspirations of the board for the division. The SCPS mission is to “Inspire and empower all learners to thrive.”
- The Values: represents the division’s core principles and philosophical ideas.
- Goals and Priorities: statements of what needs to be accomplished.
- The Strategic Plan: serves as the implementation document for the achievement of Goals, the realization of the Vision, and the accomplishment of the Mission.
- Board Policy: sets out the goals and objectives for the school division.
- The Budget: provides the fiscal parameters in which the administration will operate in accomplishing the Mission and realizing the Vision.
The SCPS Strategic Plan* sets forth the Mission, Vision, Values, Goals and Priorities.
*The current SCPS Strategic Plan is set to expire in Summer 2022, and a new one will need to be adopted.
Are school board members paid?
State law allows school board members to be paid; the chair may be compensated at a higher level. Stafford school board members are paid $1,000/month; the school chair is paid $1,100/month.
Can students serve on school boards?
School boards may have student representatives at their option. Student representatives are not considered members of the school board. Students cannot vote; they serve in an advisory capacity. If a board does decide to have student representatives, the board decides how the student representatives are chosen and how long each representative serves.
What is the role of the Superintendent?
The Superintendent reports directly to the school board. While the role of the school board is to govern, the Superintendent leads and manages the daily administrative operations of the school division. In sum, a superintendent carries out the strategic plan of the board while also managing the day to day operations of the school division.
As per the Code of Virginia, the Superintendent serves as the chief administrative officer of the Stafford County School Board in accordance with the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia, the regulations of the State Board of Education, the policies and regulations adopted by the Board, and the legal directives of the Board. Superintendents agree to devote their full time, skill, labor, and attention to duties as the chief administrative officer of the school division. See Policy 1203 - Superintendent Powers, Duties and Responsibilities
Who does staff report to?
While the school board approves the hiring and separation from employment of all employees (full time, part time, hourly, temporary, etc.), the Superintendent manages all staff. (Exception: the Board Clerk reports directly to the school board). Accordingly, the Superintendent assigns, transfers, suspends or recommends for promotion or dismissal employees of the school division as permitted by state law.
The school division is organized such that individual staff members directly report to managers, supervisors, or administrators.
Who should I speak to about a complaint regarding students or staff?
Issues regarding students or staff are best dealt with through communication with appropriate staff members according to the Chain of Communication set forth below.
Chain of Communication
- Classroom teacher, if a student complaint;
- Assistant Principal;
- Principal or Worksite Supervisor;
- Appropriate Director or Executive Director;
- Appropriate Chief Academic Officer;
- Executive Director of Constituent Services;
School board members who receive complaints regarding students or staff must remain neutral and should refer the complainant to the chain of command above. No one board member has the individual authority to fix a problem. In addition, students and staff members have due process and confidentiality rights that cannot be violated. The school board is potentially the “Court of Last Resort” and members who have been too involved early in the situation may not be able to participate in a final hearing.
School Board Meetings
Are school board meetings open to the public?
Yes, state law requires it.
While the school board acknowledges and respects the right of the public to be present for its meetings, it also recognizes that meetings of the board, while open to the public, are meetings of the board and for the board. They are not meetings of the public. Public participation in the meetings will be invited at appropriate times, including those specified below.
Why does the school board sometimes meet in private?
State law – in limited circumstances – permits school boards to meet privately in what is called a closed meeting. Typical topics discussed in a closed meeting include personnel matters, student discipline matters, acquisition or disposition or real estate, legal guidance, public safety and contract negotiations. A complete list of permissible reasons for a closed meeting are found at Virginia Code Section 2.2-3711.
To convene a closed meeting, the board must provide certain information to the public: the subject matter, the purpose, and the applicable legal exception. School board members and other participants in a closed meeting should not disclose deliberations.
How are school board votes held?
The school board transacts all business in open school board meetings. The school board does not vote by secret or written ballot, and no votes may be taken in a closed meeting. However, nothing prohibits separately contacting the membership, or any part thereof, for the purpose of ascertaining a member’s position with respect to the transaction of public business, whether such contact is done in person, by telephone or by electronic communication, provided the contact is done on a basis that does not constitute a meeting under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.
How often does the school board meet?
The school board holds regular meetings at least once per month. The board may also meet other times of the month to hold work sessions, public hearings, special meetings or emergency meetings.
How is the public notified of school board meetings?
The board’s meetings and events calendar is published on the division’s website.
How does the public find out about what the school board will discuss at its meetings?
The school board publishes an agenda and minutes for each of its meetings. The board will discuss and take action at its meetings only on items that appear on the agenda for the meeting, posted in accordance with state law, unless the board agrees to revise its agenda by adding or eliminating an item, as necessary.
The preparation of the agenda is the responsibility of the school board chair with the assistance of the Superintendent. Any member of the school board may submit items for inclusion on the proposed agenda as provided in Policy 1108 (School Board Meetings).
May I access school board meetings without being present?
Yes. Board meetings may be viewed live or by recording. Board meetings include, but are not limited to, regular meetings, special meetings, work sessions, budget sessions, and joint meetings with the Stafford Board of Supervisors. Committee meetings are not broadcast.
The meetings are also usually broadcast live on three local cable channels in Stafford:
-Comcast channel 18
-Cox channel 89
-Verizon channel 38.
The meetings are rebroadcast on Fridays at 7 p.m., on Saturdays at 1 p.m., and on the following Tuesdays at 7 p.m.
How does the school board receive public input?
There are several mechanisms for providing input to the school board. The public may send an email, speak at meetings where citizen comments or a public hearing is on the agenda, or serve on advisory committees. In addition, a digital Public Comment Form may be available for submission prior to the start of certain meetings.
How can the public get involved with school board committees?
The school board has various advisory committees that allow the school board to obtain input from the public. These committees compile data, analyze problems, summarize findings, and develop recommendations for the school board. Advisory committees meet throughout the school year (September through May), and submit their recommendations to the school board in a year-end report in late May or early June. A school board member serves on each advisory committee and is assigned a facilitator who is an SCPS staff member
Advisory committees have a membership application. If you have questions, please contact the School Board Clerk by email at email@example.com or by phone at (540) 658-6630.
How does the school board respond to inquiries from the public?
School board members are elected by the public to serve. The board wants to keep the public informed about board actions and hear the thoughts of the public. The following general process will be utilized to respond to public inquiries:
- Letters and faxes addressed to individual board members and received in the
Superintendent’s office, (Thomas to include the process).
- The superintendent will delegate the appropriate staff member to respond.
- The response will be shared with all board members when appropriate.
- If the board Chair responds to an inquiry in writing, all board members receive a copy of the response.
The administration will follow comparable procedures with regard to correspondence addressed to the Superintendent: correspondence will be routed to the appropriate staff member for response, generally within 5 days of receipt, and confidentiality will be appropriately maintained.
How do I communicate with the school board about a general concern that is not a complaint?
Board members are advised to refer issues of a general concern to the Superintendent for efficient and appropriate attention to the issue.
- Letters and faxes addressed to individual board members and received in the
Individual School Board Members, Elections, and Terms
How do I find out the name of my school board representative?
How do I contact my school board member?
To send a group email to the entire school board and the superintendent, please use this address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To send an email to a specific board member, please use the member's individual address which can be found in their bio.
What is the term of a school board member?
A full term of a school board member is 4 years.
When is the next election of school board members?
The term of each school board member is found in their bio. An election for that particular seat will be held on the Election Day immediately preceding the member’s term expiration. (Example: A member’s term expires on December 31; the election for that seat will occur on the preceding Election Day).
What happens if a school board member is unable to complete the term of office?
State law provides that the remaining members may appoint a qualified voter of the election district in which the vacancy occurred until a special election is held.
How do I find out where to vote or to register to vote?
You may contact Stafford County government.