Bath School Board holds first 2018 meeting

At Wednesday night’s Bath County School Board meeting, board members heard from BCHS principal, Mike Perry and new automotive instructor, Justin Wittington. They gave an update on the big changes in the high school’s program. Mr. Wittington described the “facelift” the shop has received, and how the equipment has been rearranged in a much more safety conscious and professional set up. Around 41 students participate in the automotive classes, and about half of them are in their first year. The program is looking forward to meeting the standards for the National Automotive Technician Foundation’s certification. Also early in the meeting, Olivia Haney of the Millboro Ruritan Club announced an evening of music to be held at Millboro Elementary School on January 20th. The Garth Newel Quartet is offering a free performance to the whole community. The music is a gift, and the Ruritans are asking listeners to bring non-perishable food items for local food pantries.

After approving Bryan Secoy to continue as president, and Rhonda Grimm as Vice President, members also voted in favor of other positions as recommended. Then the School Board went on to discuss two significant planning items. The first was to prioritize, and then choose in which of the next few fiscal years funding for certain capital improvement items will be requested from the County Board of Supervisors. Capital Improvement requests are always over 50 thousand dollars, and most are significantly more. For the year beginning now, the requests are: replacing the elevator in the Mertz Vocational Wing and repairing and improving the baseball field. For 2019-2020 the board prioritized the following items: lighting for the baseball field, paving the driveway loop at Millboro Elementary School, and two other paving repairs at VES and the School Board office. Two other items considered quite important, which are unlikely to be requested until the 2020-21 fiscal year, are a generator at Millboro Elementary School, enabling it to serve as an emergency shelter if needed, and new fuel tanks at Bath county High School before damage from aging, or DEQ standards, would require this. Board members are hopeful the Board of Supervisors may even consider working together to fund an item such as the generator, which would be a benefit to all residents. No action was taken on other longstanding capital improvements, which a few years down the road, could include crowning the football field, HVAC improvements for BCHS, air conditioning for the Valley Elementary Gym and possibly some outdoor athletic facilities at the high school.

Finally, the board considered COVA, or the Commonwealth of Virginia Health plan, which is administered by Anthem. They have had a couple of different opportunities to consider this plan, and regardless of which specific ones, employees may choose, as a system the decision needs to be made by January 15th. Superintendent Sue Hirsh suggested, and the board strongly agreed it would be beneficial to know what the County’s plan is for its employees because it might be that a larger pool could improve rates or benefits. There have been some suggested dates to discuss this with other elected officials, but as yet, no decision has been made. After the regular meeting, the School board worked longer into the cold night in a budget work session. Their next meeting is Tuesday, February 6th at 7:00

Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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