School Board approves budget

WOODSTOCK — The Shenandoah County School Board unanimously approved the 2015-16 school year budget that Superintendent Jeremy Raley presented at a Thursday night regular meeting.

The total amount the district plans to present to county supervisors on March 26 is $67,895,933, down from the $70,493,548 it asked for in the 2014-15 school year.

Supervisors are expected to establish the county tax rate for budget advertisement at 4 p.m. April 2 and hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. April 16 to discuss the proposed budget and tax rate for the 2016 fiscal year.

Included in the request is what board member Kathryn Holsinger specified as a correction of pay scales for teachers, not simply “cost of living raises.”

Some teachers will receive raises, she said. Others will not.

Board member Katheryn Freakley agreed that approving the pay scale corrections would be a “monumental” accomplishment for the district.

“Once it’s fixed, it’s fixed,” she said. “This is a really good thing for continuity.”

Chair Richard L. Koontz Jr. praised the budget as “one of the most well thought-out budgets ever presented.”

Holsinger added her hope that those community members who commented to the board in recent meetings about budget items they would like to see funded will repeat their comments for the Board of Supervisors.

Discussion about the division’s Bring Your Own Device initiative conveyed the need for the district to refresh its aging technological infrastructure that, considering the number of electronic devices trying to access school networks, could grind to a halt within 18 months if updates don’t begin soon.

Network Systems Supervisor Douglas L. Culler and Instructional Technology Supervisor Timothy F. Taylor recommended funding the beginning of updates on the 7-year-old equipment within the next year to potentially allow the district to update one school a year, rather than all of them at once.

The Bring Your Own Device initiative encourages students at participating schools to bring their own digital devices from home to use in classrooms not equipped at providing digital devices to students, or for students who prefer their own devices.

Included in board approvals were the Parks and Recreation memorandum, which the district updates every two years, and the Valley League Baseball memorandum, which allows continued use of Strasburg High School baseball fields by the Strasburg Express.

The memorandum includes what Raley called minor changes.

The school will cease use of the fields before the summer leagues gain access. The agreement also stipulates the $7,000 yearly fee the school will receive for posting temporary signs on but not behind fences to advertise Valley League Baseball. On the second calendar day following the conclusion of Strasburg varsity baseball, Valley League may post signs behind the fences around the ball field.

The School Board also approved make-up days for April 8, 9 and 10 for students, and a make-up professional day for teachers on April 7 (originally scheduled for April 10.) In the board’s approved calendar, April 7-10 were already designated as make-up days for inclement weather.

The next School Board meeting is at 7 p.m. April 14. Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors will hold a work session at 4 p.m. April 2 at the Board Conference Room, 600 N. Main St., Woodstock, and hold a public hearing to discuss the proposed budget and tax rate at 7 p.m. April 16 at W.W. Robinson Elementary School, 1231 Susan Ave., Woodstock.

Contact staff writer Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com