Highland Schools Facing Tough Financial Year
Monterey, VA – The Highland County School Board will have to deal with several obstacles to deliver a budget for the coming year. Superintendent Percy Nowlin summarizes the difficulties for the school.
“I understand that the [Highland County] Supervisors will ask for us to contribute back as much as $67, 795.00 in cuts if possible” says Nowlin. “When you get cut $99,000.00 by the state, and another 20 to 30 [thousand] by the feds, and then they raise the VRS [Virginia Retirement System] payments $61,000.00 for the next year, it makes it kinda impossible to come up with a budget that’s that close to this year’s.”
The school is facing not only reductions in state and federal funding but also increased employee benefit costs. In addition, the school is looking to restore two salary steps for the teachers that were not funded in previous years. The proposed school budget is being reviewed by the Board of Supervisors and their initial county budget asks the school to cut over $67,000. The Supervisors and School Board will be meeting next week to try and come to an agreement on the school budget.
In other business, School Board chairman Kirk Billingsley addresses a problem with one of the benefits currently granted to retired teachers.
“Right now, Highland County public schools allow retirees to stay on the schools health care plan until Medicare kicks in” says Billingsley. “The problem that I see with this is that it puts extra burden on younger employees.”
The inclusion of retired teachers in the school’s health insurance program raises the rates paid by the teachers. The Board plans to have a policy change in the health insurance program on its agenda at the May meeting.
Music teacher, Jason Canze asked the board to approve an overnight field trip to Washington DC.
“I just wanted to ask permission for a school field trip for my band students in the advanced band” says Canze. “This trip I’m planning would be to Washington, D.C.; I’d like to have an overnight trip if I could. I’m planning on seeing the National Symphony Orchestra as well as the Penumbra Theatre Company performing a play based on Nat King Cole’s life.”
The band field trip would take place after the last day of school on June 17th and 18th.
Mr. Nowlin announced that Mr. Kent Miller, math teacher at the high school, has submitted his resignation. A part-time replacement will have to be hired to finish out this academic year.
The next regular meeting of the Highland County School Board will be Monday, May 2 at 7 PM in the high school library.