Bath School Board in May

At the Bath County School Board meeting on Tuesday night, members were gratified to learn it will be possible to meet the Supervisors’ request for a 500,000 dollar reduction of local funds in the annual budget – without a reduction of teaching and staff positions. School administration pointed out some of the relief came as unanticipated revenue because of an adjustment in interest rates on Anthem insurance for which the school system is responsible. Additional helpful funds, $33,528.26 came from the National Forest Reserve. And a representative of Amerigas also presented each of the three schools with a check for two thousand dollars. Board members were very appreciative of the increased effort it took Jason Rider, business manager and Sue Hirsh superintendent to work and rework figures in order to have this budget prepared in time for the supervisors May 8th meeting. The School Board continues to encourage residents to talk to their supervisors about concerns around the budget, because ultimately they hold the purse strings.

Another topic of discussion was Guidelines for accepting out of county students. The board worked to establish a happy medium on fees for enrolling a student who meets all the requirement to attend Bath County Schools. They ended up reinstating tuition fees at one hundred dollars for the first child, fifty for another, and twenty-five for each additional student in a family. There was clarification that the financial incentive for admitting non-resident student is not connected to those fees, but to the fact that they increase enrollment, which increases State Basic Aid. If the fifty-five students who came to Bath from nearby counties were prohibited from enrolling, this year alone, the schools would have seen a drop of one hundred six thousand six-hundred and eighty-two dollars in state revenue.  Also, very clearly, based on comments of teachers, parents and a few non-resident students who were present, their participation in the school system activities, sports, and arts makes Bath County a better place for all of the children. Applications for non-resident students must be submitted by July first.

Another decision the Board approved was to offer a one-time retirement incentive package for eligible employees. After some discussion they elected to offer fifteen percent of their base salary rate, as the incentive. There are five employees eligible for this offering during fiscal year 2018-19.

Of special interest on Tuesday evening was information about rolling study halls, or a Google Bus. This pilot program is being offered for free to thirteen school districts across the whole country. Here in the highlands, the collaboration is between Google and the Virginia Society for Technology in Education, or VSTI. As Mrs. Hirsh explained. “Because we are a rural school. This program provides possible laptop computers and certainly WIFI so that students can actually use time that they are travelling back home up to an hour in many cases and also to hire tutors to help those students with work while they’re riding home. We do believe it is a program of interest. We’ve made no commitment, and at best we would not start until next year.”

In addition to the students who will have their artwork displayed at Virginia school Board offices in Charlottesvile and Richmond, Bath County High School Talent Show a success another year, and the middle and high school students who are travelling to Chicago to compete in the National KidWind finals, the school board acknowledged three other students. Emma Marshall, a junior, will be the student representative to the school board nest year. Nevada Kershner is salutatorian of the Class of 2018, and Ashlinn Liptrap is the Valedictorian. Next month’s school board meeting is June 5th at Bath County High School.

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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