New London School Board talks upcoming legislative session
BY BRYCE KELLY
Mt. Pleasant News
NEW LONDON — According to Rep. Dave Heaton, this year’s upcoming legislative session is going to be a fiscally challenging one, and as he reiterated to members of the New London School Board on Monday evening, school funding should be at the top of the legislature’s to-do list.
“Our revenues are not up to where we thought they were going to be when we made our budget, so therefore, we are going to have to reduce this year’s budget by quite a bit,” Heaton told board members. “Now, the governor has said that we will hold education harmless in this issue, so the money that you got in last year’s budget will be safe and will not be part of the reduction that we will have to make.”
As to how and where the legislature is going to trim the budget, Heaton said was still “a mystery”.
“I am still a bit worried about where they are going to find the money to cut and I am worried about what they will do to budgets for healthcare for the underserved, the disabled, and so on. I foresee this is going to be a very difficult year,” he said.
Despite his worries, Heaton said that he is confident that school budgets will be determined within the first 30 days of the session, and said that he does not expect items to be budgeted two years in advance.
“Overall, my feelings are that we need to do what we can to help schools out. Making sure that our kids are being taken care of is important and it’s important that schools have the funds they need to do that efficiently and responsibly,” said Heaton, who also addressed that the needs of rural schools, especially in the area of transportation funds, are of great concern to districts like New London and will be talked about at the upcoming legislative session.
Following Heaton’s address, and with Sen. Rich Taylor absent from Monday’s meeting, the board thanked Heaton for his work and moved into their main business items for the evening.
At the top of their list was discussion on sharing opportunities with Danville Community School District. According to New London superintendent, Chad Wahls, he would like the two districts to plan a few work sessions to talk of ways that the two schools might be able to work together to enhance educational opportunities and possibly save money by sharing various services.
Among the various classes that Wahls mentioned as educational sharing opportunities between the two schools included Spanish 4, upper level science courses like physics and Project Lead the Way.
“This idea simply came from both our districts looking at various opportunities to provide all of our kids with a better, more well-rounded education. As far as New London goes, I can say that for us, we are always looking at ways that we can better education for our students and this discussion is just part of that,” he said.
In addition to possibly sharing classes, Wahls also expressed that he would be looking at the logistical and financial aspects of sharing a transportation program with Danville.
The board agreed that discussing these matters would be prudent and set two work sessions to be held next year at New London on Jan. 9 and Jan. 23. Both work sessions would begin at 6 p.m. More information on those sessions will be released at a later date.
In other news, the board:
• Approved $74,655 at-risk modified allowable growth.
• Approved a grant award from the Enhance Henry County Community Foundation for industrial technology education improvements for $8,000.
• Approved the resignations of Melissa Jacobs, basketball cheerleading coach; Paula Bliven, head high school softball coach; Jennifer Graves, special education associate; and Luann Marin and Paula Bliven as TLC funded Mentor Teachers.
The next regular meeting of the New London School Board will be held on Monday, Jan. 23, at 7 p.m.