Board holds hearing on school budget, one person shows

Only one person attended Thursday night’s Shenandoah County Public Schools board hearing held to allow for questions on the proposed budget.

Holly Dood was at the hearing to hear what would be discussed but she had no specific questions herself.

She has a child who is a student at Central High School and a child who attends Peter Muhlenberg Middle School.

New school board member Michelle Manning said she was surprised at the attendance.

“But I also did not know what to expect,” Manning said.

Manning and other board members said when they think of budget hearings they think of the Board of Supervisors. They said they often don’t get a big turnout but it was rare to have such low attendance.

Shenandoah County Public Schools Superintendent Mark Johnston said he thought members of area educational associations would show up.

One association did send School Board members a letter as well as the Northern Virginia Daily.

Parents’ Alliance for Strong Schools is asking board members to develop a budget proposal that addresses the shortage in teacher compensation.

“The objective of teacher compensation isn’t fairness, it is competitiveness. We urge you to propose a budget that keeps Shenandoah County Public Schools competitive with surrounding districts in terms of salaries and benefits,” the letter states.

PASS also asks that the School Board seeks a commitment from the Board of Supervisors to a multi-year plan to address their growing list of Capital Improvement projects.

“Shenandoah County Public Schools cannot plan for its capital program if it cannot predict what capital funding might be available from one year to the next,” the letter states.

It was signed by most members of the Board of Directors of Parents’ Alliance for Strong Schools. The lone exception was PASS president Dan Walsh, whose wife, Cynthia Walsh, is a School Board member.