2011 budget could cut athletic director

Notice came from the school division office Wednesday morning that a community meeting to discuss the athletic program has been scheduled for 6 p.m. Feb. 17 in the high school auditorium.

The position of athletic director would be eliminated in the school division budget for the 2011-12 academic year under a proposal by Superintendent Aldridge Boone.

There would be a cost saving by eliminating the position and delegating the duties to assistant high school principal Andy Hipple, Boone said.

Jamie Harris has served as athletic director since last July. Boone said Harris has been teaching physical education classes part time and would become a full-time teacher if the A.D. position is eliminated.

Boone said he has talked to Harris about the matter. Harris couldn’t be reached for comment by press time on Wednesday.

Eliminating the position is just a recommendation at this point, Boone said. The school board listened to Boone’s presentation of a proposed budget at its regular monthly meeting Tuesday. Board members will review and discuss it in work sessions before submitting a final proposal to the county board of supervisors for approval.

The school board has a budget work session set for Feb. 22 and a public hearing on the budget is scheduled for 7 p.m. March 8 at the high school auditorium. A joint meeting with the board of supervisors is set for 7 p.m. March 15 in the auditorium.

A school budget proposal has to be in the hands of the board of supervisors by March 31.

Notice came from the school division office Wednesday morning that a community meeting to discuss the athletic program has been scheduled for 6 p.m. Feb. 17 in the high school auditorium.

“My position is that we have taken one step forward and two steps back” if the athletic director position is eliminated, said Amy Hitt, president of the Rappahannock County School Sports Association, a booster organization.

She said she will be meeting with Boone on Tuesday morning.

“If they want to make it part of the assistant principal position, make Jamie an assistant principal,” she said.

Hitt said the problem Rappahannock athletics faces is that “there is no consistency. We can’t expect him (Harris) to bring back in one year what was destroyed in the last four years.”

She said there have been five athletic directors during the years her own children have been in school.

“His [Harris’] hands are tied. He can’t do anything without the principal’s say so,” Hitt said. “Jamie has done a great job this year. We have kids participating in sports that haven’t participated before.”

She said 25 youngsters are in the Junior Panther basketball program and 80 are in the basketball recreational league. She said Harris has been an active participant in that effort.

“We have kids wanting to participate but there’s no consistency” in the running of the athletic program, she said.

Hitt said that the athletic director handles team schedules and is “supposed to be in charge of coaches.” In terms of budgeting, he tells administrators what he needs “but he never gets what he needs,” Hitt said.

The superintendent has proposed a 2011-2012 budget with projected overall expenditures of $11,860,828 compared to the $11,592,166 in the current school year budget. Projected expenses exceed expected revenue by $180,062 — a situation that will have to be addressed during the process to develop a final budget to give to county supervisors.

No increase in the funds from the county to support school operations has been projected. The figure remains at $8,509,098. Federal funds are projected at $533,950. Though legislators are still wrangling with the budget in Richmond, state support is for now estimated at $2,554,346 — a 3.3 percent increase over the current school year.

Classroom instruction costs of $6,775.228 make up the bulk of proposed expenditures next year.

Staff pay raises aren’t part of Boone’s budget proposal but he said he would like to give each of the division’s 168 employees a $500 bonus. That would cost $90,426. He’s also recommending the division absorb health-care premium increases for employees. His budget also includes a projected increase in payments to the retirement system.

The superintendent said he’d like the school division to be able to “continue to attract and retain highly qualified personnel.”

He said he wants to have a reading specialist in each of the division’s two schools, offer training to all teachers at the high school in teaching advanced placement courses, offer dual enrollment (high school and college-level courses) and online course opportunities to students, and purchase new textbooks.

Boone wants to purchase laptop computers for teachers, upgrade the school division’s phone system, offer CPR training to bus drivers, and develop a replacement schedule to replace school buses as needed. The purchase of new buses aren’t in the superintendent’s budget for next year.

The superintendent said there are still some unknown factors — such as the precise level of state and federal revenue and the amount of employee health insurance premium increases.

“We’ll have to do the best we can with what we’ve got,” said Board Chairman Wes Mills at the conclusion of the superintendent’s budget presentation.

In other matters before the board, certificates were presented to the winners of the elementary school’s winter card contest. A first-place certificate was given to Ethan Lewis, a fifth-grade student. Second place certificates were presented to fourth-grade students Ben Bailey, Sarah East, Stacy Kimble and Paige Miller.

The board also acknowledged gifts to the school division. The estate of Richard S. Lykes gave $10,000 for the high school band program. R. Scott Clough donated a brass French horn valued at $400 to the band program.

About James Ivancic 68 Articles
James Ivancic is a reporter for the Fauquier Times in Warrenton, Va. Contact him at jivancic@fauquier.com.