AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va --- County Supervisor Marshall Pattie said he was tired of seeing school renovations being done even though school enrollment is down across the county.
“We're going to continue to see decreasing enrollment for some time here,” said Pattie. “We really don't need to build new construction. We need to focus on our current teachers, adding more teachers, and making sure our pay is competitive.”
He suggested the school board take $2-million from their $7.2-million debt reserve and invest it in instruction, rather than construction.
David Shiflett is a Middle River School Board representative, and he said that may not be so easy.
“Who's going to make up the $2-million? It would end up being our responsibility,” said Shiflett. “It would be just like taking money out of one pocket, putting it in the other pocket and then transferring it back to the other pocket.”
A proposed plan to move the Augusta County School offices from Fishersville to the Verona Government Center would cost just about $2-million.
Pattie said rather than sell the the soon to be closed Ladd Elementary building, move the offices there.
“For 20 years, they've been wanting to get out of their current school administration building,” said Pattie. “They could temporarily move there. It's much better than their current arrangement.”
Shiflett said that moving to Ladd Elementary may not be a permanent solution.
“My concern about that is that we need to sell Ladd Elementary,” said Shiflett. “If Ladd Elementary sells in six months then we're going to be moving our central office again.”
Augusta County teachers have not had a raise in four years and Pattie thinks it is time that changes.
“I'm not saying that we need to beat the market, but, we at least need to be competitive,” said Pattie.
Shiflett said that would mean sacrifice.
“I don't have a magic silver bullet to come up with the cash to do that,” said Shiflett. “I think it's going to require some sacrifice on the part of all of us.”
Augusta County School Board members said the debt reserve is like a mortgage and they are not able to withdraw money from it.
Pattie said they could get more money from the debt if they restructure it while interest rates are low.
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