Highland Board of Supervisors/School Board Work Session
The Highland County Board of Supervisors and School Board came together for a special work session in Monterey Monday evening. During discussions to finalize the 2015-16 county budget, the supervisors had expressed a desire to set a road map for future funding for the schools, especially in the area of capital improvements, to simplify the budgeting process for future boards. School superintendent Dr. Thomas Schott provided this in the form of a ten year plan, listing the schedule for improvements, and needed savings looking ahead to budget for them.
Dr. Schott’s plan listed both major and minor improvements needed during this period, but cautioned that first, the timeline was based on estimated lifetime of current facilities and equipment, which could change if they were to need replacing earlier, and second, the budgeted costs were based on current prices for replacement, and inflation may raise these costs over time. The most expensive items were not anticipated until many years down the road, including roof replacement for both the elementary and high schools, slated for 2021 and 2025, respectively. Transportation needs were also factored in, with new small buses needed in two, five and seven years, and large buses needed in three and nine years. Dr. Schott noted that Virginia guidelines are bus replacement every 15 years, and smaller vehicles every 20, but that these were only estimates.
The capital improvements slated for this year are door replacement, black topping of the parking lot, wiring and wireless upgrades, and concrete and curb repair. The budget for improvements currently stands at $147, 693.
Another suggested improvement which generated much discussion was proposed upgrades to the existing baseball and softball fields. The discussion was framed by the necessity of needed repairs for both aesthetic and functional reasons versus cost. The school board has been urged by parents to bring baseball back to the schools as a sport, and to do so would require renovations and improvements, including an improved drainage system, field revitalization and replacement of the current dugouts and concession stand.
Supervisors were mindful of the need to make the area, which has been neglected for many years, more presentable, and were supportive of the efforts to bring the fields and the sport back from a community standpoint, but questioned the need and cost, especially given the amount of work which has been put into the Stonewall facility in McDowell, where the feeder baseball league and girls softball league currently play. Dr. Schott noted the base lengths at that facility are not allowable for baseball. He also noted the large amount of support shown for the efforts, and underscored that his plan, which would cost $33,000 for drainage and field improvements, and $13,000 for concession and dugout upgrades, was a long term plan for solving problems, not short term upgrades. The school is slated to return $102,000 to the county, and the funding for this could come from this total.
The supervisors praised the information Dr. Schott presented, saying it provided the needed framework for budgeting ahead, and agreed to make a decision on the ball field improvements at it’s next scheduled meeting, which is the work session on Wednesday, June 17th, at 7:30 pm.