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Warren County schools to begin year with full staff

Budget 'fine-tuning' keeps funding intact

By M.K. Luther -- mkluther@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- Despite the previous threat of massive education budget cuts, the Warren County School Board was able to maintain the funds to hire a full staff for the upcoming academic year.

Warren County Public Schools Personnel Director Mel Medved said the School Board's budgeting decisions succeeded in preventing staff cuts.

"We struggled enough to fine-tune our budget that we were able to avoid mass teacher layoffs," Medved said. "And we were able to hire everyone we needed and able to stay within our budget to do that."

The county's public schools were also greatly aided by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act -- part of President Obama's stimulus package passed in January -- and the board's precise budget calculations.

The Warren County Public School Board in June authorized the use of the stimulus funds to create a handful of new positions at elementary and high schools. The schools will now have seven new teaching, instructional or aide positions for the coming school year.

The stimulus money is being used to fund a reading and special education position at E. Wilson Morrison Elementary, an early childhood special education position at A.S. Rhodes Elementary, a reading coach at Leslie Fox Keyser Elementary, two special education positions at Skyline High School and a special education teacher at the county's alternative education program, Bright Beginnings.

The stimulus funding is currently only budgeted for two years, but the School Board can determine later to fund the personnel from the school's own budget.

"The people hired for those positions were told that when the stimulus money went away, there was a possibility that their positions would go away," Medved said.

Julie Curry, induction specialist with Warren County Public Schools, said the county's annual week-long orientation for new teachers is scheduled for this week.

The teachers hail from all across the country, Curry said, and the school system wants to ensure the new faculty members become acquainted the community before the start of the school year.

The teachers will also spend one day at their new school, working with an assigned mentor, and be trained on classroom management, school policy and procedures, and the division's Standards of Learning lesson plans. New teachers will continue to meet once a month during the academic year with a program administrator.

"We kind of follow them through their first year," Curry said.

The Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce will cap off the orientation with a reception at Skyline High School. Amber Mitchell, administrative assistant with the Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber hosts the new teacher reception every year.

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