The Henry County Board of Supervisors and the Henry County School Board held a brief joint meeting Tuesday to discuss the school division’s potential budget request from the county.
Schools Superintendent Sandy Strayer said the locality provided over $18 million to the division last year.
“This year, if we only receive the same amount that we received last year, which is above the required local effort, that $18 million, then we would fall short of the priorities that we had in our budget,” she said.
Strayer said $19 million is needed, or an increase of $700,000 over last year, to fund budget priorities that include pay raises for staff.
“We want to see our teachers have that one step and that five percent increase,” Strayer said, and added, “our classified staff have the one step and a seven percent increase, our transportation staff have a 7.5 increase, and administrators to have a 5-percent increase.”
Other priorities include fuel, updated buses, and maintenance due to rising utility costs.
Strayer said part of what the school division is asking for is to help with employee shortages.
“Sadly, all staff positions are short, and we have throughout the year usually 50 positions at any given day short of staff members,” she said.
Because of the shortages, the division parked school buses 42 times between August and February.
“As you know the people who live on the outskirts of our community have the hardest time getting to our schools and when we don’t provide our transportation that is definitely a problem for our learners. But when we don’t have drivers, we cannot have someone who is not a licensed driver drive our school buses,” she said.
The school division’s local funding request will be discussed again once the amount of state funding is finalized.
In other matters, supervisors:
*Approved a proposal to consider lifetime dog tags, as proposed by Henry County Treasurer Scott Grindstaff. The suggested fee would be set at $20 per lifetime license.
Currently, the county sells a one-year and a three-year both sexed and unsexed license. “We still sell to kennels, this will not affect kennel tags,” he said.
The switch to lifetime tags would reduce the burden on residents to get a new license every year and reduce the workload in his staff, Grindstaff said, adding that dog owners would still be required to maintain a current rabies vaccination and provide proof to animal control officers when asked.
The required public hearing will be held during the 6 p.m. meeting on March 13.
In other matters the board:
*Heard from several Carver Road and John Spencer Court area residents about issues regarding the operations of one business.
Van Drewery said issues include the noise that emanates from the lumber yard virtually 24 hours a day.
“We think it’s excessive, it’s to the point that residents are having a difficult time sleeping. It happens almost 24 hours a day around the clock,” he said.
Drewery said the dust blowing from the property is almost unbearable, causes breathing problems, and makes it hard to see.
*Approved a resolution honoring Lt. Col. Steve Eanes for his years of service in Henry County.
*Approved the items of consent.
*Heard an update from Mark Heath, president, and CEO of the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp.
*Approved several additional appropriations.
*Approved a resolution authorizing the Blue Ridge Airport Authority to administer and oversee a funding request to the Commonwealth Transportation Board.
*Heard an update about the Blue Ridge Airport construction.
*Approved a resolution approving of the county’s participation in the proposed settlement of opioid-related claims.
*Approved entering into a deed of affirmation between the county and the Lester Group concerning land located near the Henry County Administration Building.
*Reappointed Barry Helmstutler and Marshall Stowe to the Industrial Development Authority.
*Reappointed Scott Barker to the Dan River Alcohol Safety Action Board.
*Heard an update from VDOT Assistant Resident Engineer David Kiser.
*Heard a presentation from Blue Ridge Regional Library Program Coordinator Leandio Gravley.
*Approved a resolution to create the Claude A. Cobler Outstanding Volunteer EMS Officer of the Year Award.
(For more photos, visit www.henrycountyenterprise.com)