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Supervisor questions salary of school position

Karl Roulston

A Shenandoah County supervisor would like to hear from the Shenandoah County Schools superintendent about why he created a position and then filled it at a much higher pay then approved.

Supervisor Karl Ralston recently asked if Superintendent Mark Johnston could speak at a upcoming Board of Supervisors meeting to explain how a newly created position of supervisor of Student Career and Business Partnerships, presented during the budgeting process to the county School Board, and ultimately the Board of Supervisors, with a salary of $89,490 came in at closer to $130,000.

The School Board in July approved a transfer of Todd Lynn, principal at North Fork Middle School, to the new position the district created in response to new Virginia graduation requirements that beginning with the current ninth grade class students must have the knowledge, skill and attributes to be successful in college and in the workforce.

Ralston said he does not think anything improper went on and he does not want to micromanage the schools. He stressed that when he looked at the administrator positions, the division has a large student to administration ratio.

“The choice they needed a new position, I don’t have a problem with that but we were told this position, at this cost and at the end of the day, came in more than $100,000,” Ralston said. “Part of this is accountability. I just want to know what happened to make it more.”

Ralston stressed they have no control over how the division spends the money the county allocates to it.

No other area school division created a position for the state-mandated requirement.

Frederick County Schools spokesman Steve Edwards said they chose  to meet the requirements by using the existing Work-Based Learning coordinator, a position created three years ago, along with a variety of other staff.

Warren County Superintendent Greg Drescher said they use high school administration and guidance staff to make sure programs are in place to meet the requirements.

“We also have the requirements documented in our Program of Studies so all students and parents are aware of the requirements,” Drescher said.

Johnston said he plans to address Ralston’s questions at a board meeting.

Johnston pointed out that Loudoun County recently created a position, like Shenandoah County schools did, to meet the state requirement.

Johnston said the division followed board policies, which allow it to appoint an internal qualified candidate to a position without advertising it. They also followed the salary scale, he said.

“To not offer it to an experienced administrator of 16 years otherwise would open us up to age or gender or other forms of discrimination,” Johnston said.

This is not the first that Johnston was questioned about the salary for the position,

School Board Vice Chairman Richard Koonce, at a July meeting, asked about the salary and why they were being asked to approve a package closer to $130,000.

Lynn’s salary as principal was $99,089.

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