School Board members discuss funding concerns

WOODSTOCK – At a Thursday meeting, Shenandoah County Public Schools board members expressed concerns about funding needed budget items with limited resources.

Board member Katheryn Freakley said teacher retention needs to be a top priority, because long-time Shenandoah County teachers are leaving to teach in other school districts due to insufficient resources.

“We need to value education, we need to value these people, we need to value their profession,” she said.

She also said the county has a great preschool program that needs to be fully funded.

“It’s not only great for our students, it’s great for our community,” she said.

Freakley also said about 191 fundraising projects have been completed this school year by students, staff and parents to fund resources for classrooms that haven’t been funded through the school division’s budget.

“It’s the same conversation year after year,” she said. “In this particular time of the year were we’re having to make these really hard, gut-wrenching decisions about funding that we’re not getting.”

Board member Cynthia Walsh added that she also looked into the fundraising efforts of the schools, but she spoke with PTO heads at the elementary schools to see how money raised was being used. Some uses included a gym floor and an electronic library.

Superintendent Jeremy Raley also said the maintenance department has been very underfunded and “on an annual basis we are not funding at the level that is recommended by industry standards” and “it has to be a community conversation.”

“If we continue to fund at the level that we’re funding, we’re going to have significant gaps that are going take major dollars to take care of,” he added.

Also at the meeting, the School Board heard presentations on how to become more energy efficient, how to create more balanced assessments and how the balanced literacy program has helped elementary students.

Massanutten Regional Governor School students spoke about their research project to build solar panels outside the school to save money. Both the Governor’s School and Triplett Tech would be able to benefit from these solar panels, they said, not only for energy use, but for educational purposes at both schools.

Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Evelyn Linaburg spoke about the importance of increasing performance-based assessments, making better balanced teacher-made and standardized multiple choice assessments.

Director of Elementary Education Chadwick Hensley informed the board about the progress of the balanced literacy program implemented at the elementary school level. He said with Title I funding, the teachers at the elementary schools received instruction on how to increase literacy in the classroom with the support of instructional coaches and reading specialists.

The next School Board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. June 22 in the county board room.

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