Highland County School Board May Meeting
The Highland School Board heard about endings and beginnings during their May regular meeting.
High school principal Tim Good reported that the Class of 2021 will hold its graduation ceremony on Saturday, June 12th at 10:00 am. There will be restrictions for attendance, based on guidelines from the Governor’s office and the Virginia Department of Health. As of the time of the meeting, indoor events can be held at 50% capacity, which is 250 people for the gymnasium. Masks will be required, as will 6 feet of distance between spectators. Each graduate will be allowed to have a “pod” of 10 family members or guests who can sit together. The general public will not be able to attend, but the ceremony will be streamed online. There will also be a Class Day on the last day of school, June 9th – graduates will be allowed a pod of 10 guests for that as well.
Even as this school year ends, preparations for next year begin. Elementary principal Teresa Blum reported that registration packets are available for families with children who will be aged 5 on or before September 30th. Applications are currently available for pre-school as well. As of the meeting date, only 2 children were registered for pre-school, which led to a discussion of how children are located and recruited for the program, which is open to 3 and 4 year olds. Ms. Blum explained that the school’s partnership with the library helps, via their registration list for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program. The school also tracks local birth announcements, and the Family Service Advocate for Bath and Highland also assists with recruitment. Board chair Kenny Hodges suggested contacting the Mennonite school in McDowell, which does not offer classes for pre-kindergarten. Ms. Blum noted that births and class sizes are cyclical, said she felt like there would be more registrations before the year started.
In other business, both the administration and the Board praised the efforts of the staff, both in recognition of Teacher Appreciation Week, and of the education difficulties posed by the pandemic during the past year. It was reported that Ms. Nelson’s finance class had ranked 69th nationally in the WISE financial literacy test, and that the FFA had placed first in the state in tractor driving, 2nd in strawberry sales, and 3rd in poultry judging.
The Board approved personnel as discussed in closed session, which included hiring a 3rd grade teacher, and retirement of an elementary staff member. They also approved for $5,000 to be given to each school to help offset the loss of the approximately $20,000 of income normally received from Maple Festival fundraiser activities These funds go towards field trips, class trips, incentive awards, and other items outside normal school budgeting. They also approved an upgrade to the electrical system to provide 1,000 amp service, and the continuation of the partnership with Weekday Religious Education.
The Board’s next meeting will be Monday, June 7th at 7:00 pm, both in person and virtual.