Highland School Board Approves Budget for 2022-23
Last week, at the end of the second of two budget work sessions held on consecutive Thursdays, The Highland County School Board unanimously approved a budget for fiscal year 2022-23, which now goes to the Board of Supervisors for approval. The budget was prepared and submitted by Interim Superintendent Charles Winkler, who was hired after the resignation of former Superintendent Dr. Thomas Schott in January.
The total amount of the budget is for $6.8 million, but there is a caveat to that figure. Nearly $1.6 million of that amount is dependent upon receiving grants from the state for school construction, COVID HVAC funding, and Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, or ESSER Funds. If that revenue is not received, the county will not be responsible for that amount. The county ask for this budget is just under$2.6 million, an increase of $130,000.
The budget includes a salary increase across the board of 5%. The Board had previously approved salary increases for faculty of 2.5%, plus a step increase. Mr. Winkler explained that by raising the increase to 5%, this would meet requirements to receive an additional $30,000 from the state.
Besides salary increases, some of the increase in the budget is due to projected costs rising for fuel for transportation and heating.
The budget also provides $77,880 for the salary of an Elementary School Administrator. The full time elementary principal position has been open since November with the passing of long-time principal Teresa Blum. The school has had a part-time person serving in this capacity for two to three days a week. In the first of the budget work sessions, Mr. Winkler expressed his opinion that while the school likely did not need a 40 hour per week principal, it did need a full time person to address the principal duties along with the administrative functions. Dr. Schott had expressed similar opinions before his resignation, and had asked the Board to begin advertising to fill the position with a starting salary of $65,000, but the Board had resisted, citing the desire to explore different models and cost saving options. The Board did begin advertisement for a principal in February, and has received some applications. Mr. Winkler advocated for the formation of a committee to begin interviews with applicants, possibly within two weeks after the work session.