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By Preston Knight - firstname.lastname@example.org
WOODSTOCK -- Silence may have been the best thing the Shenandoah County School Board wanted to hear Thursday night.
Only two speakers addressed the board during its public hearing on the proposed 2011-12 budget. Superintendent Keith Rowland presented a $51.89 proposal last week, highlighted by, and highly reliant upon, a $1.11 million increase in local funding from the Board of Supervisors. It would be the first increase in three budget seasons.
A 2 percent raise for employees is included in the plan.
Two teachers were the only speakers Thursday. Pam Clem, a reading specialist at Ashby-Lee Elementary School, asked the board to adopt the proposed plan to ensure that struggling readers would continue to get the support they need. Current funding, she said, enables her to serve 50 pupils, while other specialists are also on staff.
Jan Orndorff, a sixth-grade teacher at Signal Knob Middle School, used the words and actions of teenagers to express her thoughts. Before she left to attend the budget presentation last week, she said she told her daughter she was in a rush because it was important to have community support for education.
"Good luck with that one, mom," Orndorff said, quoting her 13-year-old daughter.
The girl has become cynical because of budget cuts.
Earlier this year, Orndorff said one of her gifted and talented students did "something amazing" during class -- he thanked her. The class began to applaud its teacher.
"That doesn't happen in middle school," Orndorff said. "They did everything to tell me, 'We value education.' ... Please say to our kids, 'We value your education.'"
Chairman Gary Rutz, after being unable to find any more takers to come to the podium, asked the board if there were any modifications needed before budget approval. There was nothing but silence.
The board is scheduled to meet to approve the budget at 6 p.m. next Thursday. A presentation by Rowland to the Board of Supervisors will then occur March 29.
Last year's public hearing did not produce much drama, either, as there were only seven speakers, all expressing gratitude for what was proposed then.
The 2011-12 proposed budget is $1.77 million higher than the current plan, and the pay raise would be the first for employees in three years.