FRONT ROYAL – Among items discussed at a Warren County School Board work session this week were the 2020 fiscal year budget and the renovations of A.S. Rhodes Elementary School.

Schools Superintendent Greg Drescher provided an update on the budget for the 2020 fiscal year. He said that the updated total state revenue number for the 2020 fiscal year will be a bit lower than originally thought. When the proposed budget was originally revealed, the total state revenue was projected to be $29,655,852 — an $899,603 increase over the 2019 fiscal year. Now, the number is projected to be around $150,000 less.

Drescher also said during Wednesday’s work session that there would be no increase in health insurance rates for the coming year.

“We may actually see a small decrease in rates,” he said. “People may see somewhere between a one and half and a three and a half decrease in our rate depending on which plan they’re in. It’s joyous news.”

Drescher also provided an update on the ongoing efforts to get salary increases for school employees. He said that the changes in the proposed budget will not affect the planned 3 percent pay increase.

Drescher also talked about personnel and non-personnel needs, including GPS for transportation vehicles and software for human resources.

“These things are true needs,” he said. “These are things needed to do your job.”

Drescher said the goal is to present an approved proposed budget to the county Board of Supervisors on Wednesday.

Melody Sheppard, assistant superintendent of schools, provided an update on the renovations of A.S. Rhodes Elementary School. The renovations will include a new roof, new windows, new HVAC system, and lighting and other electrical upgrades. The construction budget for the project will be around $3 million.

Sheppard said that the county has $3.1 million to get the project done. The renovations will begin in the spring, but work won’t be conducted during instructional hours. The project will continue through the year and is expected to be completed by July 2020.

Justin Maffei and Heather Bragg, two members of the instructional resource team for Warren County schools, presented to the board a proposal for textbook “adoption,” which allows public schools to use approved digital and print material from companies that make textbooks. Maffei said books that are being considered for adoption are for math and social studies.

Maffei said that it would take $470,000 to purchase the textbooks. The last time textbooks were replaced was in 2012.

“We would like to get on a seven-year cycle,” he said. “Our subscriptions are running out right now. There are some classes that are going to not have access to the online edition of their textbook.”

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