Board accepts budget calendar, hears presentations

WOODSTOCK – The Shenandoah County Public Schools School Board accepted the budget calendar and heard presentations on unified sports, grants and progress on the calendar for the next school year’s calendar during a meeting on Thursday.

All School Board members but Irving Getz accepted the proposed budget calendar. Getz was not at the meeting. The budget calendar lists the upcoming work sessions to discuss the fiscal year 2017-2018 budget.

The School Board will hold a public meeting at 7 p.m. Jan. 12 that will include time for public input on the budget. The board will then hold a budget work session on the budget on Jan. 19.

On Thursday, the board heard a presentation on Central High School’s local Shenandoah Special Olympics program and how inclusive fitness has benefited students with special needs.

Central High School Special Education teacher Megan Smith said the county has five programs, which include Special Olympics, Unified Sports, Champions Together, Young Athletes and Healthy Athletes.

She added that the focus of these programs is to provide those with disabilities the opportunity to be members of inclusive, competitive athletic teams throughout their school years and also after they graduate.

She added that Special Olympics caters to kids 8 years old and above while the Young Athletes programs allows kids 2 to 7 years old to participate.

She wants to see the program expand to include Strasburg and Stonewall Jackson high schools and become a more unified, inclusive program for kids with disabilities.

The board also heard a presentation by student assessment coordinator Gabrielle Ryman on the School Quality Profiles that are replacing the Virginia Report Cards. The new profiles are part of the work the commonwealth is doing to meet requirements of the Every Student Succeeds Act.

The report cards can be viewed on the Virginia Department of Education’s website at http://tiny.cc/wvgtgy. They show the performance and demographic trends within the school division. She said the page is interactive and includes graphs and pie charts to show the results and when the cursor moves over a particular field, more information can be viewed.

The site shows academic achievement, academic progress, graduation rates, progress in English Learners gaining proficiency and school quality for Shenandoah County Public Schools.

Director of Middle and Secondary Education David Hinegardner also presented an update on the Apple Federal Credit Union’s IMPACT grant for Quality Mentoring for Exceptional Teaching, also known as QMET.

He said the grant allowed the school division to purchase resources and staff to provide a mentoring and coaching program to new teachers entering the school division.

“The world is changing fast,” he said, adding that teachers need to keep up with the changes taking place in education and these grants help the division do this through mentoring and coaching.

He said mentoring is required by the Virginia Department of Education, but it also facilitates a seamless transition into the first year of teaching, improves skills, increases teacher retention rates and reduces the cost of replacing lost teachers.

The grant money also allows for a coaching program that ensures sustained implementation and accountability, he said, and allows for consistency across all levels of teaching. It also allows teachers to be more engaged with what they are being taught.

He added that Apple Federal Credit Union has also provided additional grant funds to assist with new teacher induction and improvement strategies.

Because of the increase in teachers leaving the school division in recent years, he said these programs are a high priority for the division to keep teachers in Shenandoah County.

Superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Evelyn Linaburg also gave a presentation on the start of next school year.

She said the 2017-2018 school year will begin Aug. 7 for students. The convocation will be held on Aug. 4.

She added that new teachers will report to the schools on July 28 and all returning teachers will be in schools on Aug. 1. On Aug. 3 all schools will hold an open house from 1-4 p.m. and from 5-8 p.m.

She said a concern with the upcoming school year is holding elementary and middle school summer schools in June with the high school summer school as this will have a budgetary impact and will be dependent on available funding. She added this won’t be a concern the following year when the summer break is back to its normal length.

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

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