Patrick school officials hopeful for 2019

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By Jaymie Mordue

Some members of the Patrick County School Board have their sights set on cutting expenses, providing more pay to teachers and improving communication with residents.

Brandon Simmons, vice chairman, said that his goal for the upcoming year is “first and foremost” that every student in the county gets a good education.

Simmons, of the Blue Ridge District, also said that he hopes that the schools will be accredited at the end of the year and is “sure that it will happen” because the division has “great staff.”

He feels that the division is moving in the right direction as it heads into a new school year and Simmons said he looks forward to making improvements to finances as they are possible.

Simmons also hopes to improve overall communication with the board and residents by working harder to answer questions and keeping financial and other information current and up to date on the division’s website.

He encourages the community to keep an open mind as the school board looks into new ideas, and said that “just because they are looking into something, doesn’t mean it will happen.”

Ronnie Terry, chairman, said that his main goal for this year is to “get more money for teachers and employees.” However, he noted that goal is standard and that it is on his list every year.

Terry, of the Blue Ridge District, wants to implement more programs, but he said that is hard to do when the school division lacks funds.

He hopes to find ways to increase enrollment, and noted the division is “dropping 50 to 60 students each year.” That translates into reduced state funding and impacts other funding streams as well.

“Hopefully we can find a way to save money internally,” Terry said.

In addition to striving towards a pay increase for teachers and staff, Terry said he hopes to improve relations with the Patrick County Board of Supervisors. Both the supervisors and school board need to work together, he added.

Although Terry is hopeful for a good year, he said with the many problems confronting both boards, it may be a long year.