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Martinsville Bulletin, Inc.
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Martinsville, Virginia 24115
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Funding cuts possible for county schools

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

Henry County Public Schools could face an additional shortfall of roughly $178,000 in state funds in the 2014-15 fiscal year, Superintendent Jared Cotton “cautiously” estimated at the county school board meeting Monday.

The school division does not yet have final figures, he added.

In addition to the $178,000, HCPS potentially could lose state revenues if the school division’s enrollment declines, Cotton said. He added that HCPS used a conservative enrollment estimate in preparing its budget and hopes to know more within a few days.

In addition, HCPS potentially could lose state revenues as a result of revenue reforecasting, said Cotton and Dawn Lawson, the school division’s chief financial officer. They did not elaborate or specify how much revenue could be lost.

In other business, the school board voted to approve changes to the Code of Student Conduct for 2014-15 on first reading and forgo the second reading to print the code in preparation for the upcoming school year. The additional revisions were recommended after review of recent state legislation, Virginia School Boards Association recommendations and the school division’s Code of Student Conduct. The printing cost is $9,500.

Among the changes in the Code of Student Conduct for grades 3-12 are expanded details on what is considered appropriate student dress:

“Students are expected to dress appropriately for a K-12 educational environment. Any clothing that interferes with or disrupts the educational environment is unacceptable. Clothing with language or images that are vulgar, discriminatory, or obscene, or clothing that promotes illegal or violent conduct, such as the unlawful use of weapons, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, or drug paraphernalia or clothing that contains threats such as gang symbols is prohibited.

“Clothing should fit, be neat and clean, and conform to standards of safety, good taste and decency. Clothing that exposes cleavage, private parts, the midriff, or undergarments, or that is otherwise sexually provocative, is prohibited. Examples of prohibited clothing include, but are not limited to: sagging or low-cut pants, low-cut necklines that show cleavage, tube tops, halter tops, backless blouses or blouses with only ties in the back, clothing constructed of see-through materials and head coverings unless required for religious or medical purposes.

“Additionally, disciplinary action will be taken against any student taking part in gang-related activities that are disruptive to the school environment, which include the display of any apparel, jewelry, accessory, tattoo, or manner of grooming that, by virtue of its color, arrangement, trademark, or any other attribute, denotes membership in a gang that advocates illegal or disruptive behavior.

“Parents of students requiring accommodation for religious beliefs, disabilities, or other good causes should contact the principal.

“Student(s) not complying with this policy will be asked to cover the noncomplying clothing, change clothes, or go home. Parents and students must reference specific building dress regulations which are located in the student handbook/planner.”

Among the other changes in the Code of Student Conduct for grades 3-12, there are expanded details on bullying, tobacco-free-schools, electronic communication devices, and weapons. Also, the code says, “Students shall not possess electronic cigarettes on school premises, on school buses, or at school-sponsored activities.”

In other business, the school board:

• Approved the amended IRS Section 125 flexible benefit plan resolution. The IRS Section 125 plan is beneficial to employees who may pay for certain benefits with “pre-tax” dollars rather than “after tax” dollars. Participation is voluntary for employees. As an employer that sponsors a Section 125 plan, HCPS is required to update its plan document to incorporate and comply with changes required under the Affordable Care Act.

• Approved purchase of Lego Simple Machines equipment for all fifth-grade classrooms at an estimated cost of $57,987.64 (an estimated $21,984 of which is pending available funding). Simple Machines support scientific inquiry, building testing, and evaluating engineering models, and applying key math concepts such as computation, measuring and predicting outcomes, according to board documents.

• Approved the purchase of band instruments for Bassett and Magna Vista high schools and Fieldale-Collinsville and Laurel Park middle schools, and awarded the bid to National Educational Music Co. The total cost is $30,000 ($10,000 per high school and $5,000 per middle school), pending available funding.

• Awarded a contract for copier maintenance services for fiscal 2015 to Toshiba Business Solutions in Mount Gilead, N.C. The approximate annual cost is $70,000.

• Authorized Sandy Strayer, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, to sign documents in the superintendent’s absence for fiscal 2015.

• Was reminded of dates: July 4, schools and school board office will be closed; July 10, regular monthly meeting, 9 a.m., Summerlin Meeting Room, County Administration Building, first floor; July 29, school board retreat, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Chatmoss Country Club; Aug. 7, regular monthly meeting, 9 a.m., Summerlin Meeting Room, County Administration Building. July 21 and 22, school board members will attend the VSBA Conference on Education in Richmond.

• Approved bills for payment.


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