Public speaks on school funding request

WOODSTOCK – Teacher salaries, school nurse availability and district sports programs were topics of concern Thursday at a public hearing of the Shenandoah County School Board.

The School Board has proposed an operating budget of $64,087,509 for fiscal year 2016-2017. The budget is $3.6 million more than last year’s budget of $60,482,925.

Speaking on issues involving the sports program, Kevin Rooney, of Maurertown, proposed the district save money by looking into privately run options instead.

“As far as the whole sports thing, I personally think that all the programs should be canceled, make it private. It would save money for the schools. As it’s set up, we only have a few kids benefiting, but everybody has to pay for it. It would also create a shield, as we’ve become such a litigious society,” he said.

Rooney also spoke on teacher salaries and health benefits, saying increases to salaries and benefits shouldn’t be funded.

“We in the private sector have to pay for our own health care,” he said. “The rest of us have to pay for it, so I believe that they should.”

Senseny Solomon, of Strasburg, spoke of the need for a second full-time nurse at Sandy Hook Elementary and a full-time nurse at Strasburg High School.

“If you’ve ever been to the nurse’s offices at various times of the day between medication administration and sick little ones, it’s a busy location and it could use more hands,” she said.

She has a second grader at Sandy Hook with several health conditions that require regular trips to the nurse’s office.

“She needs to see a regular face from someone that knows all of her issues when she enters the nurse’s office,” Solomon said.

When the current nurse is out for the day, fill-in nurses take her place. She said that fill-in nurses aren’t aware of her daughter’s underlying issues that need to be managed on a daily basis.

Rebecca Smith, of Toms Brook, also spoke on the need for another full-time nurse at Sandy Hook and a full-time nurse at Strasburg High.

She is a mother of two boys at Strasburg schools.

“My eight year old (is) a third grader at Sandy Hook, and he sees the nurse Dorothy Tice several times a day, because he’s a Type 1 diabetic,” she said. Her son is insulin dependent and must keep a check on his blood sugar throughout the day.

“I know my son is not the only one at school that suffers from this disease or another disease that has to be monitored all day long,” Smith said.

She set up a routine with the nurse and the teachers for her son to meet his needs.

“I have gone in more than once to drop off supplies for my son and have seen all the beds full with sick children resting, the nurse is on the phone, there’s people waiting to talk to her, and poor Ms. Tice is all alone dealing with all of this,” Smith said, “In my opinion this is how mistakes are made.”

Tice also spoke about her busy job at the school.

“I’ve been school nurse at Shenandoah County schools for 24 years,” she said, “I’m the only full-time school nurse at Sandy Hook.” She said that  a part-time nurse works four hours during the day, and also travels to Strasburg High School.

Tice asked the board to make the part-time nurse a full-time position.

“We have upwards of 940 students and only one nurse full time. Our main goal as school nurses is to advance the well-being and educational success of our students. We serve as the health expert in the schools to meet the health needs of each child. We develop care plans for students based on the nursing process, which includes assessment, intervention and identification of outcomes,” she said about her busy job.

Eugenia Kemble, of the Shenandoah County Democrats Education Committee, supported the school budget, listing priorities that she feels are most important.

“These needs are warranted,” she said.

The preschool program, the increase in teacher salary and benefits, the hiring of additional teachers for the English as a Second Language program, additional guidance counselors and an increase in technology resources were all priorities Kemble listed.

The board will vote on the proposed budget at its March 10 meeting.

Once the budget is approved, it will be sent to the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors for approval.

Upcoming meetings:
• Feb. 23 steering committee meeting on boundary change options at 6 p.m. in the Central High School Cafeteria.

• Feb. 25 work session at 6 p.m. followed by a presentation to the School Board on boundary recommendations from DeJong-Richter at 7:30 p.m. in the County Board Room.

• March 2 work session at 6 p.m. followed by the public hearing on boundary adjustment recommendations at 7:30 p.m. in the W.W. Robinson cafeteria.

• March 10 work session at 5 p.m., followed by a closed session at 6:30 p.m.. The regular public meeting will be held at 7 p.m.

All meetings are open to the public, except for its closed session.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com