Facing a shortage of substitute teachers due in part to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Warren County Public Schools (WCPS) plans to use instructional assistants (IAs) to fill any empty substitute slots and has received approval from the Warren County School Board to increase their pay rate when doing so.
The School Board during its Wednesday, October 6 regular meeting voted unanimously to approve the rates of $10 per hour and $50 per day for IAs who provide instructional coverage for classroom teachers when no substitute is available. Board Vice Chairwoman and Acting Chair Catherine Bower and board members James Wells, Ralph Rinaldi, and Melanie Salins voted aye. Board member Kristen Pence was absent.
“Securing substitutes for our classrooms continues to be a challenge. In all settings, we have observed staff members serving sacrificially to meet the needs of our students and staff members,” WCPS Superintendent Christopher Ballenger told board members, explaining that the situation “has caused a hardship on some of our staff members who are asked to serve in an instructional setting due to no teacher or substitute teacher being available.”
“Getting subs and classroom coverage has been difficult at times,” said the superintendent. “We would like to compensate those who are stepping outside of their role to take on additional duties to help with coverage.”
The increased rates used for this coverage compensation will come from the existing WCPS substitute teacher budget, according to division information, which noted that providing in-house coverage will reduce the cost for coverage when it occurs due to the elimination of fees associated with securing a substitute through the division’s partnership agreement with ESS, which operates the online absence management system.
Ballenger said that WCPS will attempt to secure a substitute first through its established process with ESS, but when ESS cannot provide coverage, administrators will work to provide coverage with employees who volunteer to take on this responsibility.
At the same time, WCPS has designed a compensation structure for staff members who voluntarily give up their planning time to provide classroom coverage due to a staff shortage or teacher absence. The compensation structure is tiered to include both exempt and nonexempt employees. The rate of compensation for a teacher to cover another teacher’s class will be $20 per hour. The rate of compensation for an IA to cover a teacher’s class will be $10 per hour.
The difference in rates for a teacher and an IA takes into account that teachers are giving up a planning period to cover a block or a class period; IAs do not have a planning period to give up, but they are taking on a higher level of responsibility when providing the service, according to WCPS information.
The compensation paid will be in addition to an employee’s regular salary and a time sheet will be used to pay employees who provide this coverage, the information says.
In other action, the School Board also voted unanimously to allow the WCPS Technology Department to purchase personal computers (PCs) and a server from Dell Technologies for $186,830.
Specifically, the purchase will include the replacement of all PCs at Warren County High School and Skyline High School, as well as the replacement of a virtual server that supports the Warren County Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs. The funding will come out of the Virginia Public School Authority Technology Grant, according to WCPS Technology Director Timothy Grant.
The board also unanimously approved another purchase by WCPS of an Edgenuity online curriculum for grades 6 through 12 costing $66,806.03. The price includes a high school quote, middle school quote, a professional development quote, and a free pilot for elementary school intervention and enrichment, according to WCPS Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Alan Fox.
“With the ongoing pandemic, parents continue to ask for a virtual learning experience and Edgenuity is a leading provider of online curriculum and blended learning solutions,” Fox told School Board members prior to their vote. “They specialize in online courses and instructional services.”
The middle school purchase is for 21 months, while the high school purchase is for 18 months. The elementary pilot is good through the end of the year, Fox said, noting that the cost of the online curriculum will be covered by a federal pandemic relief grant.
Lastly, the Warren County School Board voted unanimously to move forward on a proposed amphitheater project on land owned by the division pending information being provided to Sands Anderson, which is the attorney for both Warren County and the School Board.
According to WCPS Assistant Superintendent for Administration George “Buck” Smith, the School Board on January 8, 2008, entered into an agreement with Warren County to lease to it a 3.702 acre portion of School Board property on Criser Road adjacent to Ressie Jeffries Elementary School.
The County then leased the property to the Samuels Public Library Board so that a new library could be constructed on the site. The lease agreements require the library to obtain approval from Warren County and the School Board for any renovations or improvements to the property, Smith explained.
At the School Board’s September 15 work session, members of the Samuels Public Library provided a proposed amphitheater project presentation on the 3.072-acre property and sought the next steps for permission for such a project. Smith said that WCPS staff then reached out to legal counsel to seek guidance.
Now that legal counsel has reviewed both leases, Smith said, it recommended that:
- Sands Anderson will need a confirmation in writing from both the School Board and County that neither object to Sands Anderson’s taking on this project since both are clients, who would constitute a technical conflict of interest.
- A written confirmation that the proposed improvements will be on real estate that is already within the bounds of what is described in the two leases.
- A written confirmation, by consensus with the School Board, the County of Warren, and Samuels Library Board of Trustees that all parties agree to move forward with the project, and
- Legal counsel drafts an additional document that grants a three-party agreement between the School Board, County, and Library Board to consent to the building of the amphitheater, its location on the lease property, and its design.
Specifically, the School Board unanimously voted to authorize the superintendent to provide all the written confirmations that were recommended.
Watch the Warren County School Board’s meeting in its entirety — including the community participation portion of the meeting. The board’s next regular meeting/work session is scheduled for Wednesday, October 20.
VDOT: Warren County Traffic alert for October 18 – 22, 2021
The following is a list of highway work that may affect traffic in Warren County during the coming weeks. Scheduled work is subject to change due to inclement weather and material supplies. Motorists are advised to watch for slow-moving tractors during mowing operations. When traveling through a work zone, be alert to periodic changes in traffic patterns and lane closures.
*NEW* or *UPDATE* indicates a new or revised entry since last week’s report.
Vegetation management may take place district-wide on various routes. Motorists are reminded to use extreme caution when traveling through work zones.
Traffic alerts and traveler information can be obtained by dialing 511. Traffic alerts and traveler information also are available at www.511Virginia.org.
The VDOT Customer Service Center can assist with reporting road hazards, asking transportation questions, or getting information related to Virginia’s roads. Call 800-FOR- ROAD (800-367-7623) or use its mobile-friendly website at my.vdot.virginia.gov. Agents are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Front Royal Main Street eatery changes ‘Yappy Hour’ day from Friday to Monday, updates menu
One of Main Street’s popular restaurants recently underwent a name and menu change and also switched the day it devotes to “Yappy Hour.”
During the past couple of years, ViNoVa owner Rachel Failmezger and executive chef Chris Kenworthy featured a tapas menu similar to a Spanish favorite, now moving along to an Italian-Mediterranean style of cooking and changing its long-running “Yappy Hour” from Friday evenings to Mondays (4-6 p.m.). Restaurant hours of operation also have been amended, noon to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday (closed Tuesday) and noon to midnight Friday and Saturday.
The restaurant’s new name retains its original “ViNoVa” with the added words “Mediterranean Bistro.” The property seats about 50 and each Friday, off and on for the past decade, has helped donate thousands of dollars to the Humane Society of Warren County’s Julia Wagner Animal Shelter.
Rachel, noting differing (earlier) eating habits since the pandemic struck, suggests closing earlier than 2 a.m. better meets the needs of an expanded staff and earlier diners, as would the changed menu.
“Overall, we will be more flexible, more accommodating,” Rachel opined in a recent interview as nearby regular customers appeared to be in agreement with the menu changes. “Whatever restaurants did two years ago, they cannot do today. It’s a new age for us,” she said, mentioning that the entrees will be larger, and there will be an emphasis on lunches, particularly the quick “take out” type featuring the “Viva Bowl” in which you choose your own ingredients for an affordable $9 “to go!”
Something to remember by early birds at the Bistro: beer and wine prices are staggered starting at $3 per glass for a beer at 3 p.m., rising to $4 at 4 p.m. and then on to $5 at 5 p.m. for the rest of the evening.
Linden man arrested, charged for child abuse
On October 12, 2021, at approximately 8:20pm, Warren County Sheriff’s Office received a call about an 8-year-old juvenile walking on Freezeland Road, Linden, Virginia. The caller stated the juvenile advised them they were running away from home due to being abused by their father. Deputies responded to 78 Lookout Point Way, Linden, Virginia, where the juvenile resides to perform a welfare check. Upon arrival deputies spoke with Matthew Steven Lewis, the juvenile’s father, and made contact with the juvenile. During the welfare check, deputies observed that the juvenile had sustained multiple injuries. Deputies had Warren County Fire & Rescue respond to the residence, and the juvenile was transported to Warren Memorial Hospital for further treatment.
After the initial investigation Matthew Steven Lewis was placed under arrest for Domestic Assault (M), Child Endangerment (F), and Strangulation (F). Matthew Steven Lewis was held without bond at RSW Regional Jail, preliminary hearing is set for November 4, 2021.
Warren County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank Front Royal Police Department, Virginia State Police, and Warren County Department of Social Services for their assistance.
Social Security announces 5.9 percent benefit increase for 2022
Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for approximately 70 million Americans will increase 5.9 percent in 2022, the Social Security Administration announced today.
The 5.9 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits payable to more than 64 million Social Security beneficiaries in January 2022. Increased payments to approximately 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 30, 2021. (Note: some people receive both Social Security and SSI benefits). The Social Security Act ties the annual COLA to the increase in the Consumer Price Index as determined by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Some other adjustments that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages. Based on that increase, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $147,000 from $142,800.
Social Security and SSI beneficiaries are normally notified by mail starting in early December about their new benefit amount. Most people who receive Social Security payments will be able to view their COLA notice online through their personal my Social Security account. People may create or access their my Social Security account online at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.
Information about Medicare changes for 2022, when announced, will be available at www.medicare.gov. For Social Security beneficiaries receiving Medicare, Social Security will not be able to compute their new benefit amount until after the Medicare premium amounts for 2022 are announced. Final 2022 benefit amounts will be communicated to beneficiaries in December through the mailed COLA notice and my Social Security’s Message Center.
The Social Security Act provides for how the COLA is calculated. To read more, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/cola.
Wildlife biologist to explain changes to deer hunting season during October supervisors meeting
BERRYVILLE, VA — A wildlife biologist from the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) has been invited by the Clarke County Board of Supervisors to talk about the significant changes to the 2021-22 deer hunting season in Clarke, Frederick, Shenandoah, and Warren counties. Fred Frenzel makes his public presentation during the Supervisors’ evening session at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 19. The session includes public hearings on proposed code changes. The presentation and public hearings are in the second-floor meeting room of the Berryville-Clarke County Government Center at 101 Chalmers Ct.
DWR made changes to this year’s deer season because of chronic wasting disease, Frenzel said. Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a fatal neurological disease that can pass between deer through saliva, feces, and urine as well as through water or contaminated soil. CWD was first diagnosed in deer in West Virginia in 2005. It was first detected in Virginia in 2009, and has been reported in Fauquier, Frederick, Clarke, Culpeper, Loudoun, Madison, Montgomery, Rappahannock, Shenandoah, and Warren counties.
“As a result of chronic wasting disease, DWR made drastic changes to deer season in four of the counties I cover,” said Frenzel, the DWR district wildlife biologist for Clarke, Frederick, Shenandoah, Warren, and Page counties. He said the changes were made to mitigate the spread of CWD, noting only minor changes were made to deer season in Page.
Supervisor Doug Lawrence, who represents the Russell District, requested the Supervisors host a public presentation to address questions about the current deer season. “When they changed deer season, it caught a lot of people by surprise,” Lawrence said. “I thought our hunters should understand the rationale behind the changes.”
Clarke Supervisors have also asked Frenzel to discuss coyote bounties, game bird preserves, and Clarke’s prohibition of hunting within 300 feet of public roads.
Read about Virginia’s 2021-22 deer season at dwr.virginia.gov/hunting/regulations/deer/.
For more information about the Oct. 19 public presentation on deer hunting and/or the public hearings, contact County Administration at (540) 955-5100 or email@example.com.
RMA Interact students help clean up our community
Our local RMA Interact Club had a great experience cleaning up Kendrick Lane last week. 17 RMA middle school students participated with our very own Nancie Williams, Arnold Williams, and two faculty members. One of the most interesting items they collected was a old piece of metal, featured in a picture below!
Do you have a student in one of our local schools and want to learn more about Interact? Contact us: www.warrencountyrotary.org