Covington and Allegheny Moving Forward to Combine Schools
Covington and Allegheny schools are moving forward to combine their school systems. Representatives from both school boards, city council, and the board of supervisors met Thursday, August 22nd, for the first time to start planning.
During the organizational meeting, they elected Jacob Wright as the committee chair, who also serves as the Alleghany County School Board vice chair.
According to the WSLS website, Wright says they have 400,000 dollars from Virginia lawmakers to spend coming up with a plan. He says the money will be used to hire attorneys and figure out how a budget works between these two separate entities so there’s not a fight every budget year. The legislative bodies will need to agree on several things including a funding formula that is going to have to be put into law, how the school system is governed, etc.
He also said that ideally they would like a plan to be set by Christmas. They would go to the Virginia General Assembly in 2020 for funding and the new budget could start July 1, 2020. He would like to start the 2020 school year as a joint system.
There is a difference in salaries between both school districts which still needs some working out to do. Teachers and most other staff in Covington out-earn Alleghany County, though both systems pay less than the state average. A consolidation study in 2009 by educational consultants S. John Davis and Associates, estimated it would take about $1 million to raise the county wages to the city level.
Both school boards reject that philosophy and agreed that salaries should be equal on Day 1 of a merger. Committee Chair, Jacob Wright said quote, “We think people that have the same job title should be making the same amount money,” unquote.
He also added they will get rid of duplicate positions through attrition over time and that they don’t want anyone to lose their job.
I’d like to thank WSLS and the Virginia Review for some of the information I used in this story-
For AMR News, I’m Abby Dufour