Williams Jr. elected to board

Arnold M. Williams Jr.

FRONT ROYAL — At a Monday evening special meeting, the Warren County School Board elected a new member.

Arnold M. Williams Jr. will fill the North River District seat left vacant by Vice Chair Roy Boyles, who resigned last month from his unexpired term.

The term will expire Dec. 31.

Williams will fit in very well with other board members, said Chairperson Catherine Bower.

“[He is] somebody who’s truly interested in public education and in doing the right thing for the children of this community,” she said.

Owner of Culligan Water Treatment, which has franchise locations in Warren, Page, Rappahannock and Fauquier counties, Williams said he applied to the School Board “to be a part of something.”

Williams is a graduate of Warren County Public Schools and said he has noticed area schools change “only for the better.”

He and his wife Nancie have a son in the first grade at A.S. Rhodes Elementary School and another son who will be in kindergarten next year.

The School Board previously voted Joanne Cherefko as vice chair.

The special meeting was announced at a regular meeting Thursday when the board approved its fiscal year 2016 budget. The board also approved its 2015-16 salary scales for school employees and its Local Plan for Career and Technical Education, said Director of Finance Robert Ballentine.

“Everything was approved on the action agenda,” he said on Monday.

Last week, the Warren County Board of Supervisors approved the school budget for $51,707,337, nearly $422,000 less than what board members proposed in a budget earlier this year, Ballentine said.

The approved amount is an increase over the 2015 budget by $172,429.

The budget will allow the district to increase staff and teacher salaries by 1.5 percent — an across-the-board increase mandated by the Commonwealth of Virginia for the coming fiscal year. It will allow improvements to the district’s salary scales, though it will not fund all changes board members intended.

Main changes to salary scales will affect teachers who have worked for schools from three to nine years. Instead of remaining on the same pay level for seven years, Ballentine said teachers will ascend to a new level at the fourth and seventh years. Those in their seventh, eighth and ninth years of teaching will receive an additional $462 in the new fiscal year.

The step increase is a move in the right direction, Ballentine said.

The board also voted to appropriate $579,862, from the 2013-14 school year, to county savings. Ballentine said the next step is for supervisors to vote for an appropriation of the funds.

Weighing possible names for a second county middle school, the board discussed on Thursday the benefit of branding students to one high school or the other with a common mascot and fighting colors.

Those who attend Warren County Middle School would ascend as Wildcats to Warren County High School, Ballentine explained. Those attending the new middle school, with a possible name of Skyline Middle School, would expect to become Hawks at Skyline High School, he said.

“The thing is, they’re not located close,” Ballentine said. Skyline High School is located south of town, but the new middle school is planned for the Leach Run property off Happy Creek Road east of town.

He said board members plan to discuss the matter further at a 7 p.m. May 14 meeting at 210 N. Commerce Ave. and consider how much it will cost the division to transport students within the Skyline High School district lines to the new middle school.

Also on May 14, the board will hold a public meeting to hear thoughts about selling surplus land at 144 Water St., Front Royal.

Contact staff writer Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com