School and County Boards Try to Settle $2 Million Budget Gap

By: Elizabeth Lamb Email
By: Elizabeth Lamb Email

AUGUSTA COUNTY -- The future of the Augusta County school district will be influenced by a $2 million budget gap.

School district administrators met on Wednesday with the county board of supervisors to try to close that gap. The extra $2 million would restore full health insurance for some employees, keep teachers from leaving the district and bring more technology to the classroom.

The hope is both the board of supervisors and the school board come to a compromise. Both sides want what's best for the district and county.

Jeff Moore, the chair for the board of supervisors, listened to a proposed budget.

“I think it's important for both boards to sit together and hear the input of what all went into making the budget,” said Moore.

School Superintendent Chuck Bishop wants competitive pay for teachers. He said Augusta County Schools pay among the lowest salaries in the region and that has Nick Collins, the school board vice-chair, worried.

“You want the best teachers for our children, and when folks are entertaining where to go to work, that would certainly in my mind be a very big factor,” said Collins.

Moore wants to give the county's education system a boost, especially if that means students give back to Augusta County.

“They're going to get out of school and either go on to our workforce or continuing education and come back and be engineers for us, or doctor, teachers, or whatever. So, it's very important we prepare them for the future,” said Moore.

Some part-time district employees stay for the health insurance plan. That could also be cut in half, but Bishop's budget would mean teachers get their first raise in four years.

“It's just a matter of wanting to be able to attract and retain the best-qualified teachers and to pay them adequately,” said Collins.

Bishop said he wants competitive pay to keep teachers from leaving Augusta County Schools. He said teachers often transfer to Harrisonburg City Schools and Rockingham County Schools.

The school district and county board hope to come to an agreement by May 1st. The proposed budget totals more than $92 million. It would go into effect July 1st if it's approved.


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