Clarke School Board holds firm on program, position requests

Posted: February 12, 2013

The Winchester Star

Janet Creager Alger
James W. Brinkmeier
Rick Catlett
Barbara Lee
Chip Schutte

BERRYVILLE — With no public comment, the Clarke County School Board Monday night decided that it should ask for new positions and expanded programs that would add about $1 million in new spending in the next fiscal year.

County supervisors have said they do not expect to find that much extra revenue in the next fiscal year.

The proposed $21.4 million school budget, which includes a 3 percent pay raise for teachers, is scheduled for final adoption by the School Board Feb. 25, before being forwarded to the supervisors.

During Monday night’s meeting in the library at Clarke County High School, Assistant Schools Superintendent Rick Catlett outlined reasons why the system needs nine new employees, including a math specialist and several health and special education teachers.

All five School Board members offered comments about the sections they felt were most important to preserve in the proposed budget.

Janet Creager Alger cited school programs.

“I’m passionate about science and math,” she said, adding that she believes the schools should also invest in “prevention” programs to keep children in school.

Charles “Chip” Schutte agreed that the math position was important. The subject “has been a problem for us,” he said, should be a high-priority item and may also be mandated by the state government.

Schutte also wants to keep the new positions to support the health sciences curriculum that the schools are developing.

These programs “offer a good step off to a college program or the workforce,” he said.

The county’s special education teachers save money for the county by keeping special-needs children in a local program, instead of moving them to educational facilities outside the county.

James Brinkmeier agreed. “It’s more expensive outside the system.”

Alger said if more must be cut, she would agree to reduce the salary hike from 3 to 2 percent.

Barbara Lee disagreed, saying teachers had gone without raises for several years prior to the current fiscal year.

Brinkmeier noted that salaries and benefits are the biggest part of the school budget, but added, “I’d like to support the 3 percent. We can only get so lean. I’m satisfied with where we’re at.”

Attending the meeting in the Clarke County High School library were Chairwoman Elizabeth “Beth” Leffel and members Charles “Chip” Schutte, Barbara Lee, Janet Creager Alger and James Brinkmeier.

—Contact Val Van Meter at vvanmeter@winchesterstar.com