Bath School Board prioritizes capital expenditures
The last school board meeting of 2015 took place on Tuesday evening. When they meet again in January, new members Brian Secoy of Millboro, and Roy Burns of Warm Springs will be seated at the tables. By the end of the meeting the focus was so entirely on accounting for funds the board had understood were appropriated for capital expenditures, that it took quite a while to move to the specific items which they were trying to fund. After much discussion, including the ongoing need to reduce electricity use to save money, and whether or not it is safe to leave outdoor lights on at night, the board finally resolved to fund the following items for which there is longstanding need. At the top of the list were the construction plans for paving the parking lot behind the high school for around thirty thousand dollars.. Then the board agreed to pay up to twenty thousand dollars if necessary towards new band uniforms. They also encouraged the community to continue fundraising for that purpose. Finally board members agreed to designate forty thousand dollars for new curtains and carpet for the auditorium. There were several items remaining on the list of needs, and not enough funds for all of them, but this board decided to leave the rest of the decisions about capital expenditures to the board being seated in January 2016.
Requiring almost as much time and attention were the new sign-in keypads that visitors and students will use at both elementary schools, and the high school. While this new procedure will be more efficient and safe in the long run, it raised strong questions about invasion of privacy. With the new system, visitors, not students, need to provide their driver’s licenses. Paul Lancaster, Director of Personnel and Technology, explained the standard paper sign-in lists are still available throughout the transition to this new system. Visitors are as welcome in the schools as ever, and please be patient as staff, students and visitors all get used to the new system together.
One other item requiring the board’s action was to approve or disapprove the administration of a Communities the Care survey by the Rockbridge Area Services Board. The strictly anonymous and confidential survey could indicate students’ patterns of drug and alcohol use, and possibly threatening family issues. Then Rockbridge Area Community Services and the schools could work together to develop prevention or intervention programs. Board members Eddie Ryder, of Cedar Creek and Bill Manion of Millboro were shocked at the personal nature of the survey questions, but other board members and school staff expressed the need for this kind of information to acquire funds, to offer any kind of drug and alcohol, or family life, education to students. The surveys are strictly optional, and students’ responses will likely vary tremendously. Superintendent Sue Hirsh explained,
“One question that has come to me is ‘How do you know if kids will answer honestly?’ It’s my experience that our children answer far more honestly sometimes than adults do. They usually say exactly what they think. We do know that it is a youth survey. We have eighth graders, tenth graders, twelfth graders. Because this isn’t going to become public, there is no reason to brag about something. The bottom line is the survey, which we did not create, as I said, provided by RACS would give us some insight about alcohol and drugs. It does get into some other information regarding families, but it is confidential, and they would like to administer it, and so they seek your approval to do so.” The board eventually voted three to two for the survey to be administered.
For more information on all of the upcoming events, especially Christmas Concerts, at all three Bath County Schools, look at the Bath County Schools website.