The Warren County School Board at its Wednesday, May 19 meeting and work session unanimously voted to change this year’s school start date to August 17 for Warren County Public Schools (WCPS) and learned that WCPS will move forward with plans to create an online learning academy to start this fall.
School Board members — including Board Chairman Arnold Williams Jr., and board members Kristen Pence, Ralph Rinaldi, and James Wells, with Board Vice Chairwoman Catherine Bower absent — approved a revised 2021-2022 school calendar that reflects changes made by WCPS administrators in response to concerns raised by parents and division employees.
The changes move the first day of school from Aug. 7 to Aug. 17 and the last day from June 9, 2022, to June 3, 2022. The board will consider the draft school calendar for the 2022-2023 academic year at its next meeting on June 5, according to Assistant Superintendent for Administration Melody Sheppard.
During the School Board’s work session portion of the meeting, WCPS Superintendent Christopher Ballenger said that the school division is working to establish an in-house virtual academy for students in grades 3-12. No vote or action was taken by the board as this was just a discussion with the superintendent about plans for the program. Once the details are worked out, the plan will be submitted to the School Board for action.
Because WCPS has “a lot of students who maybe weren’t successful in a brick-and-mortar but who have been very successful” with online learning during the altered pandemic school schedule, Ballenger said the school division would like to offer a virtual academy or some type of virtual learning option for students during the upcoming school year and possibly beyond.
“We want to make sure as educators that all of our students are successful,” Ballenger told the School Board members. “So, do we want to shut down this opportunity for that student or that group of students who struggle in the classroom with their peers, but they have been online and thrived?”
Ballenger said that most schools across the Commonwealth will offer a virtual component during the upcoming 2021-2022 school year, and there is also an existing online learning program offered by the Virginia Education Department entitled Virtual Virginia for grades 6-12. “Virtual learning is here to stay,” he said.
“If it costs a little more, then that’s okay,” commented School Board Chairman Williams. “It’s the cost of doing business. And our business is educating our children.”
And there’s already community interest in a WCPS virtual learning offering, said Ballenger, who cited a WCPS survey showing that of the current number of students enrolled, 71 elementary school students are interested in virtual learning; 53 students in grades 6-8 are interested, and 84 students in grades 9-12 are interested.
Likewise, WCPS reached out to home-instruction parents and 42 elementary school students are interested; 21 at the middle school level are interested, and 24 at the high school level are interested, said Ballenger.
Ballenger said that in addition to a WCPS virtual learning program or Virtual Virginia, there is a third option: “We can do nothing and make everyone just come back to school,” he said. “And there are students who we would lose by not offering virtual learning.”
“Personally, the do-nothing [option] — that’s off the table as far as I’m concerned,” Williams said. “Virtual Virginia? Yeah, that’s nice, but I’d much rather it be us because this is our community. It would be so much more personable to have it in-house.”
Board member Wells agreed and said WCPS should “take the leap and see what it can do with a virtual learning academy.” Rinaldi also was on board with the plan and asked if students from other counties would be able to transfer to the WCPS program. Ballenger said yes.
“We will work on this plan over the next few months,” said Ballenger, noting that details will be worked out regarding the program’s total cost, the number of teachers needed, course work, the overall process, etc., and then he will present it to the board.
“I feel it’s important to offer this virtual component not just next year but beyond. This is something that I think is sustainable. This is something that I think is needed, especially within Warren County, and I think we can provide a good quality program and give the students and families what they need,” said the superintendent.
Other actions taken
The School Board took other actions earlier during its meeting and unanimously approved several other items, including:
• The purchase by WCPS of new security equipment in the amount of $208,500;
• The annual $18,765.30 fee for the WCPS Human Resources Department to continue use of the Unified Talent’s applicant tracking, records, contracts and job board software as part of its management system;
• Three contract awards. An $80,200 contract to Vertex Roofing Inc. to replace the shingle roof on the gymnasium at Skyline High School; a $32,052 contract to John Lake Paving Inc. to resurface the asphalt for the bus loop at A.S. Rhodes Elementary School; and a $41,142.70 contract to The Gordian Group to perform the necessary concrete replacement to the stairs and sidewalk at Skyline Middle School; and
• Two memorial scholarships. The Shell Harris Memorial Fund scholarship, which is awarded to a Warren County or Skyline high school student who wishes to pursue a career in the arts, design, or creating writing, and the Faye Smoot Memorial Scholarship, which is awarded to a volunteer serving his or her community.
Board members also accepted with gratitude a $16,400 check from Giant-subsidiary Martin’s that will be used toward food services for WCPS students.
National school-choice advocate speaks in Front Royal
The lady who engineered “the biggest school-choice victory in U.S. history in Arizona last fall” spoke on January 29, 2023, before more than a hundred people in Father Ruehl Hall at St. John’s Catholic Church in Front Royal. The subject was the “Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA)” program that went into effect in Arizona in September 2022.
The speaker was Christine Accurso, executive director of the ESA program for the Arizona State Department of Education. Accurso spoke for 20 minutes from a prepared script, then took questions for more than an hour and a half on how the ESA program works. The Front Royal Catholic Civic-Education Group sponsored the event.
Accurso made three main points in her presentation:
• Arizona’s new law makes all of Arizona’s 1.1 million school-aged kids eligible for $7,000 in ESA money that can be spent at any private or religious school. Since the program started last fall, the families of almost 50,000 students in Arizona have signed up for the program. About half have had some public school experience.
• Accurso expects the number of students signing up for the ESA program to double this year to approximately 100,000 students.
• Accurso repeatedly emphasized that ESA money does not go directly from the government to a school — but to a parent, who then decides how the money will be spent.
Accurso said this is exactly how many federally-funded programs —like the GI Bill, Pell grants, pre-K headstart, Medicaid, food stamps, and Section 8 housing — have operated for years. “For some reason,” Accurso stressed, “when it comes to K-12 education, teachers’ unions have built into our heads that it’s not right for public dollars to follow students. That simply is not true.”
Watch the event on this exclusive Royal Examiner video.
Humane Society of Warren County opens thrift store
On November fourth of last year, the Humane Society of Warren County opened a thrift store located at 450 S. Commerce Avenue, adjacent to On Cue and the CVS. As the proceeds go to support homeless animals, Pick of the Litter Thrift Store comes at a time when the HSWC greatly needs it.
“It took a lot of work to put the planning process together,” executive director Megan Bowers explained. Previously HSWC hosted a yard sale once a year in June that generated four to five thousand dollars, but it proved to be lacking due to the requests they were receiving from the community for a place to bring donations.
“We could not have asked for a better community,” store manager Jessie Moore exclaimed. “Every day feels like Christmas!” Her positive outlook characterizes the store she runs, where a patron can help himself to a complimentary coffee and browse the collection of books, DVDs, rows upon rows of clothing, and the occasional odd item like a set of glassware.
Jessie said each day is different, and she never knows what will come in. It is all about “the fur babies,” as she jovially put it. She expressed relief that HSWC has finally generated a more reliable source of funding than the yard sale. Watching Jessie move around the store with her assistant Laura Hickman and interact with customers, it is obvious that they are thoroughly enjoying themselves. Of course, it is all about the fur babies.
This is an establishment that welcomes animals. Anyone browsing the goods is welcome to have their pet alongside them.
“They’ve done really well over there,” Megan said in praise of the Pick of the Litter team. HSWC has three branches: the shelter, the clinic, and the thrift store.
As proud and fond as many are of their four-legged family members, it is a consolation in this cold season to know that such a capable organization is doing everything possible to keep Warren County’s domestic animals on the warm side of the front door.
As an ongoing consequence of pandemic impacts, fitness programs will end this month but rehab services will continue at Valley Health’s Outpatient facility here
Royal Examiner asked Valley Health Public Relations Manager Carol Weare about planned service cuts locally as a consequence of the COVID pandemic outbreak of the past few years. This is what she told us:
“Due to unprecedented financial challenges related to the effects and after-effects of the pandemic, Valley Health has been taking steps to limit additional losses by evaluating all programs and services we offer. Like fitness facilities nationwide, Valley Health’s fitness programs experienced a decline in membership during the pandemic and never rebounded.
“As a result, we made the difficult decision to end our fitness membership programs in Berkeley Springs, WV, Front Royal, VA, and Woodstock, VA, effective Wednesday, February 1, 2023. Members are being notified and any membership balance or un-redeemed personal training or massage gift cards will be refunded promptly.
“We regret the disruption this decision will create for community members, whose fitness commitment and ongoing health are important to us.
“In our assessment, we carefully evaluated each program’s unique operational situation, including finances, building lease contracts and the availability of local fitness facility alternatives within the community.
“The fitness programs in Berkeley Springs and Front Royal are co-located with outpatient physical rehabilitation; those services will continue uninterrupted.
“As Valley Health continues to feel the lingering financial impact of COVID-19, we are evaluating where, when and how healthcare services are provided to ensure our stability as the region’s top care provider and employer of choice well into the future.”
Warren County Department of Fire and Rescue Services Line of Duty Death – Funeral Notification
With great sadness, we announce the passing of District Fire Chief Homer Larry Cross (Age 74) of the Fortsmouth Volunteer Fire Department.
On Monday, January 23, 2023, members of the Fortsmouth Volunteer Fire Department discovered District Chief Cross unresponsive at the Fire Station and began life-saving intervention procedures, but unfortunately, the Chief was pronounced deceased at the station.
Chief Cross began his career as a firefighter with Fortsmouth Volunteer Fire Department in 1983. Later serving his community as a long-tenured District Chief, he dedicated himself to saving lives and helping those in need. Through his years in the fire service, Chief Cross felt honored to work alongside a fantastic group of men and women, many of whom serve in various fire service leadership capacities across the Commonwealth’s Fire Service today.
“District Fire Chief Homer Cross was an inspiration for our Department and a fixture on almost every fire ground,” stated Fire Chief James Bonzano. “He was a dedicated fire officer but, above all else, a great friend whose legacy will certainly live on through the care and compassion he instilled in the next generation of our Fire Department.”
Arrangements for District Chief Cross are as follows:
Family Night will be held Monday, January 30, 2023, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm. at Maddox Funeral Home at 105 W. Main Street, Front Royal, VA.
A Funeral Service with Fire Service and Military Service Honors for District Chief Cross will be held on Tuesday, January 31, 2023, at noon at Riverton United Methodist Church at 55 E. Strasburg Road, Front Royal, VA.
A procession from the church to Panorama Memorial Gardens will be conducted, where final respects will be paid.
The Cross Family will receive guests following the service at the Front Royal Volunteer Fire Station at 221 N. Commerce Avenue, Front Royal, VA.
The Trust Deed Pledge Plan: An investor’s greatest investment aspiration
REAL ESTATE INVESTORS AND REAL ESTATE AGENTS
An original Trust Deed Pledge (TDPP) to help property owners from losing their entire property equity due to a foreclosure has been developed. By rescuing the equity and turning the owner into a qualified investor in plan, the owner continues to grow the funds rescued.
THE SECURED CASH INVESTOR POSITION IN THE TDPP INVESTMENT
The desire to be protected in a safe rewarding and timely investment is what the investor wants and needs and receives in the TDPP.
- Investment amount required? – Ans: ($60,000 total in small amounts by a group of investors)
- What is the reward? – Ans: (Pre-agreed fixed amount of $25,500 up to $42,500)
- What is the timing of investment? – Ans: (Estimated one-year)
- Amount of protection? – Ans: (Collateral exceeds invested amount)
- How is the investor “protected”? – Ans: (With a very strong superior legal position)
REAL ESTATE ACTIVITY EARNINGS
The TDPP offers a way to achieve an exclusive listing to sell (foreclosure free) for the agent/broker finding and introducing the necessary material to the foreclosure owner. There is strong competition, in the regular market place for exclusive listings, that makes it a challenge to accumulate enough listings for the average licensee to earn and build a personal lifetime wealth of a million dollars plus. It is fair to say the TDPP can do it.
The TDPP offers new type real estate earnings, separate from and in addition to a 6% sale commission.
- Introducing an original way to earn 1% of the sales price of a property and a second way to earn 5% of the net sales price of the property.
- There are other original ways to earn a fee of $9,000 and one of $15,000 for new type activity in the TDPP.
- Achieve an exclusive foreclosure free exclusive listing for the person processing the property owner joining the TDPP.
- Other unique exciting opportunities are available to earn profit in original ways within the TDPP!
Go to http://investmentrevelation.com for more information.
Robert L. Evans, President
Foreclosure Answer Affirmed, Inc.
Concern Hotline named beneficiary of Ride with Rotary
Rotary Club of Warren County is excited to announce their beneficiary for the Ride with Rotary 2023 is Concern Hotline! Watch this video with Executive Director, Rusty Holland, as he shares a little about who the Concern Hotline is and what they offer to Warren County and surrounding counties.
Learn more about Concern Hotline: www.concernhotline.org
Concern Hotline is a free 24/7/365 anonymous information & referral, crisis intervention, and suicide prevention hotline serving the Northern Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.
For Concern Hotline calls, dial any of these local numbers:
- CLARKE, FREDERICK, WINCHESTER COUNTY – 540-667-0145
- SHENANDOAH COUNTY – 540-459-4742
- PAGE COUNTY – 540-743-3733
- WARREN COUNTY – 540-635-4357
Ride with Rotary 2nd Annual Bike Event
- April 29th – Check in starts at 8am Rockland Park
- Register Today!
- Interested in being a sponsor? Call Jen Avery at 540-683-0790 to learn about sponsorship options.