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'A budget based on need'

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Keith Rowland

Shenandoah County schools seek $1.7 million to balance plan

By Kaitlin Mayhew -- kmayhew@nvdaily.com

WOODSTOCK - Superintendent B. Keith Rowland presented a preliminary version of the public schools budget at Thursday's work session that will require asking the county for $1.7 million to balance the budget.

Before his presentation, Rowland lamented how difficult it is to come up with a budget as the funding cuts get more dramatic each year.

"It hasn't gotten any easier," he said. "[This] represents a budget based on need, not on want."

The majority of the reductions in expenditures were in line with the options proposed to the school board at their last work session on Feb. 27.

Two part-time receptionists in the school board office will be laid off. A stipend of more than $11,000 will no longer be paid to Shentel Channel 8 to broadcast school programming.

Out of the 13 positions that will be vacant as a result of employees retiring or resigning, only seven will be filled. Four of those set to be filled are teacher positions.

Two new expenditures include purchasing updated language arts books for grades kindergarten through second grade.

Rowland said that he would prefer to update the textbooks for all grades, since the Standards of Learning in that subject are going to change this year, but at this time that isn't possible.

Over $400,000 is budgeted to keep the eight jobs that were funded through the Jobs Bill for the last three years.

"We have decided that those positions are indispensable," Rowland said.

The positions include: four teachers, one nurse, a maintenance technician, a PC technician and a student data analyst.

However, if the $1.7 million that's needed is not granted by the county, Rowland said the look of the budget will change dramatically.

For one thing, the planned 1.5 percent raise for all employees likely will be put on hold for the fifth consecutive year.

Another possibility would be that the school year may be reduced by seven days. The bus drivers may have to do more than one run in the morning and afternoon, which would result in 15 driver lay-offs.

In that situation additional lay-offs may be in the works too, said Rowland, for instructional aids and perhaps teachers.

The next public hearing for a budget discussion is scheduled for Thursday, March 15.


Why can't the schools take a little cream off the top? Those administrators and principals make plenty. Let them make some sacrifice for once!

The teachers have the real job of trying to maintain some order, in already overcrowded classrooms, as they "teach to the test". Maybe schools could teach students "how to think' instead of preparing for SOL's.

Our nation use to provide a decent education for the public; now they are tied into knots trying to deal with George Bush's brilliant, No Child Left Behind (which should have been overturned).

Spin Gold from Straw, that's the current way.

I hardly think a paycut for administrators will solve much. As far as teaching to the tests, I can see where teachers gear their lesson plans towards the standards. I don't agree with NCLB, but I do like the way that these SOL's encourage higher thinking, being able to take information given and be able to draw higher conclusions. I feel that the overall morale of the employees is important because if our teachers are not compensated for what they do, they will move on or stop caring all together. I also think that new text books are needed because, as it stands right now, many teachers do not use one text book. They create thier own study material and the students keep binders. Teachers are utilizing multiple resources to get the information they need to teach our kids. There is no one easy solution here because of what is at stake.

If there's one thing the SOL's don't do...it's promote higher thinking.

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