Bath’s School Board holds April meeting

Sometimes results from one meeting of public officials bleeds over into a different group of local representatives’ ability to operate. This happened Wednesday evening when the school board met for the first time since the Board of Supervisors had recommended level funding for 2018-2019.   The school board had asked for an 8.5 percent increase resulting in a proposed budget of $11,883,644. Shortly after the opening of Wednesday night’s meeting one resident described the high school’s baseball filed as a “disgrace”, and the fact that it is the first item likely to be eliminated from the school’s budget. Level funding affects not only the baseball field but, much needed improvements to transportation, compensation for staff, and long-deferred maintenance.

Part of the scenario some elected officials could find frustrating is that, when asked for input, the public doesn’t speak, and then when services or facilities are about to be cut, or especially when they have been cut, everyone seems to speak up. School Board Chair, Brian Secoy, described some of the steps to developing the school budget. At a joint meeting of the two boards,

“We gave them the same presentation that we have been given multiple times by Justin, the business manager, for the schools. And they had no questions for us regarding any budget. You could kind of get by their body language, I guess, that they weren’t comfortable with the raise, but they didn’t ask any questions. Then, at a normal School Board meeting we had a public session for the budget for public input, and there was no public input regarding the budget. About a week later was the first I had heard they were looking at level funding for us with no questioning.”

Four of the five Bath supervisors indicated they feel the schools currently have enough money. Eddie Hicklin, Millboro supervisor, is in favor of funding the School Board’s request. The issues of the composite index, and unanticipated federal or state funds, often arriving towards the end of a school year are two complicating factors in planning the school budget. A couple of months in the ongoing process remain for increased or improved communication.

Other business addressed at the School Board’s meeting was accepting a resignation from Kim Smith, accepting the retirement of Keith Lindsay, approving Steve Gardener as volunteer Boys Soccer Coach, Leo Priddy, as volunteer for Girls Soccer Coach, and Carrington Robertson as a substitute. The board also voted in favor of three overnight fieldtrips: the Kid Wind teams to Chicago, the Beta Club to Virginia Beach, and the Band for its week long camp in the summer at Grace Bible Camp.  Any of these teams or organizations would welcome contributions to these extracurricular activities. Donations can be accepted through the school offices.

Superintendent, Sue Hirsh updated board members on the high school parking lot project, and said that bids for construction will be sought soon.

In closing board comments, members expressed their ongoing appreciation for the passion and expertise of local educators. Roy Burns described, even though details may not yet be public, safety and security improvements are being addressed. He assured those present “Your concern is our concern.” and noted importance of not being guided by fear.   As always, board members encouraged residents to communicate. To that end, here is a quick reminder of who your Bath School board members and districts are: Bryan Secoy, Millboro, Rhonda Grimm, Williamsville, Eddie Ryder, Cedar Creek , Kathy Lowry, Valley Springs and Roy Burns, Warm Springs.

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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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