Bath Supervisors Agree To Fund Additional First Grade Teacher
Warm Springs, Va – Bath County School Superintendent Sue Hirsh spoke to the Bath Board of Supervisors Tuesday night, making the case for an additional first grade teacher at Valley Elementary School. She says the large size of the current class was unexpected.
“On August 10th, we expected 19 to 21 students,” says Hirsh. “On August 11th, the number had grown to 24; on August 15th, it was at 25. And the day after school began, we had yet another registrant and that was at number 26.”
The Virginia Dept of Education recommends a ratio of no more than 24 students to 1 teacher in a first grade classroom. Hirsh asked the Supervisors to approve a disbursement of almost $66,000.00 from funds that the School Board returned to the county at the end of the last fiscal year. Those funds would cover both the teaching position and a part special education aide at the high school.
For Supervisor Jon Trees, it’s not a question of whether they should approve the hiring of additional teacher, but when the county should pay for it.
“I think we should handle this request like we do and have in the past for other departments that have come and asked for addditonal funding after a budget’s been adopted,” he says. “If the school system wants to hire a teacher, then by all means, that’s their prerogative; and if they run short of funds toward the end of the year, then come back to this Board and at that time, request what they need.”
But Supervisor Carol Hardbarger sees it a little differently.
“If there were some guarantee that I felt we had that a board would be elected that would ensure that funds would be allocated to the school system to replace that $65,000.00 dollars if they run short, I would certainly agree that Mr. Trees’ idea makes sense to me,” she says. “However we are going into an unknown situation beginning January one. I certainly believe we need to hire another first grade teacher.”
Three of the five members currently serving on the Bath Board of Supervisors are not running for re-election this year, Hardbarger, Chairman Richard Byrd and board member Percy Nowlin. Nowlin made the motion to give the funding back to the school system. It passed on a three to one vote with Supervisor Jon Trees opposed. Supervisor Stuart Hall was not in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting.
In other business, Jay Trinca spoke out against a proposed county small wind energy ordinance. Trinca says the Supervisors and the county planning commission should be doing everything in their power to improve the quality of life for Bath County residents. He says allowing the installation of wind turbines is the wrong way to go about it.
“What is it in this ordinance that will improve the quality of life for our citizens and attract tourists?” he asks. “The answer is nothing. Now if windmills were a viable, cost effective energy option that would save us money, I would say that every lot in the county should have one on it, but for the fact of the matter, windmills don’t work.”
He offered several suggestions for changes to the draft document on wind energy put together by the planning commission. County Planner Sherry Ryder says the draft is still a work in progress and they have already made some changes.
“The maximum kilowatt power would be 100kw; we limited the height, we’ve tried to protect the mountain ridges, we’ve looked at setbacks, and we’ve looked at minimum acreage,” says Ryder. “All of the applications will be submitted as a conditional use permit; there’s a lot of things they would have to go through and bring to the planning commission and the BZA [Board of Zoning Appeals] before it would be approved.”
The supervisors decided to table the issue until new County Administrator Matthew Walker has a chance to familiarize himself with the ordinance. They may take up the issue and hold a public hearing as early as October.