New Members Join Highland School Board
The Highland County School Board showcased a new look for its inaugural meeting of 2020, with incumbent Joe Neil being joined by newly elected members Sherry Sullenberger and Kenny Hodges. After the public meeting opened following closed session, Superintendent Dr. Thomas Schott briefly took the reins of the meeting for organizational purposes, before turning it back over to Ms. Sullenberger, who was installed as chair. Mr. Neil will serve as vice chair.
The new members were attentive and inquisitive as they learned about the normal procedures of the meeting and received the updates from the school administration. Elementary principal Teresa Blum and Middle/High school principal Tim Good welcomed the new members, and informed them of school activities during the past month, and upcoming events. Mr. Good gave special congratulations to the ten finance students who took the Wise Financial Literacy Test, and had a 100% pass rate. He also noted that the new School – Community Partnership meetings, where interested individuals can meet with the principals, will begin January 30th at 6:00 pm. Student representative Mary Winters Blanchard informed the Board of new school spirit initiatives.
Dr. Schott’s report included news he is receiving on this year’s state budget, and how it could potentially affect the school’s spending. He informed the Board that one of the proposals for his budget will be a pay increase of $500 for teachers, in addition to the current step increase, and $250 for all other personnel. He will also recommend continued 100% health care coverage for employees.
During action items, the Board was read two resolutions for informational purposes, supporting equal taxing for Virginia counties and increase in funding for small and rural school divisions. Action will be taken on these items at the next meeting, February 3rd at 7:00 pm. They also approved a field trip for fourth and fifth grades to an Astro Camp, a two-day STEM academic camp.
Parent Susannah Baxter questioned the administration during public comment about the policy for home-schooled students who wished to take classes. She explained that students who wished to enroll in two subjects were often unable to do so, because the policy states that those classes must be in consecutive period blocks, and the current schedule makes that impossible without an open block in between for certain desired subjects. Dr. Schott explained that the policy was in place because having a part time student on the grounds, for an open block period, would raise supervision and liability issues for the school system. He said if students wished to be here for three consecutive periods, they need to enroll as full time students.