The Warren County School Board, on Wednesday, September 7, approved several action items, including the amended the fiscal year 2023 operating budget totaling almost $69.9 million for Warren County Public Schools (WCPS), a digital mapping grant for all schools, and some extra cash for instructional assistants who hold active certified nursing assistant (CNAs) credentials.
School Board Chair Kristen Pence, Vice Chair Ralph Rinaldi, and board member Andrea Lo were present. School Board members Antoinette Funk and Melanie Salins were absent.
Board approval of the amended FY 2023 WCPS operating budget is based on the $5,714,541 additional appropriation from the Warren County Board of Supervisors (BOS). WCPS Superintendent Christopher Ballenger told board members that that the BOS now will be requested to allocate the appropriation to the following categories: Instruction ($53,218,702); Administration, Attendance, and Health ($3,124,965); Pupil Transportation ($3,388,545); Operations and Maintenance ($7,178,511); Debt Service ($658,247); and Technology ($2,323,973).
Originally, an initial FY 2023 Operating Fund budget of $64,178,402 was approved by the Warren County BOS at its June 28 meeting, while the additional $5,714,541 appropriation was approved by the BOS at its August 16 meeting.
The roughly $5.7 million amount was appropriated to the Instruction category with a request that the County be advised the amounts that need to be transferred to other categories to allow for the restoration of several initiatives totaling $5,714,541. These initiatives include full funding of the 5 percent salary increase for WCPS staff; a $1,000 bonus for staff in December; funding for all extra-curricular events and athletics; to restore three furlough days; and to fill all existing teacher vacancies in the school division, said Ballenger.
The School Board also voted 3-0 to authorize the superintendent to request that the supervisors appropriate $409,913 of the FY 2021 surplus to the WCPS Transportation Fund, which is held by the County; $1,000,000 to the School Capital Improvement Fund that is held by WCPS; and that the remaining $267,200 be retained by Warren County as previously agreed.
During their June 7 meeting, the supervisors approved the FY 2020-2021 audit, which included the total FY 2020-2021 school operating surplus of $1,677,113. Ballenger explained that the $267,200 previously had been committed by the School Board to be retained by the County from the FY 2021 surplus.
“This is the amount of funding provided by the Board of Supervisors in the fiscal year 2021 budget for instructional assistant and nurse raises,” he said. “Because of budget uncertainties due to the pandemic, the raises were withheld, and bonuses were given to employees instead.”
The superintendent and School Board previously agreed to not request this amount in their surplus request since it was not spent for its intended purpose.
In other action, the School Board also passed an item presented by WCPS Maintenance Director Greg Livesay (above) to award an approximately $38,000 contract through a state contract to ThunderCat Technology, which will create digital maps of all Warren County Public Schools.
In April, Virginia Gov. Glen Youngkin announced the availability $6.5 million through the State Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) to assist public schools in developing digital floor plans. In conjunction with the announcement, Youngkin signed House Bill 741, which requires local school boards to create detailed and accurate floor plans for each of their public-school buildings, Livesay said.
The Digital Mapping Programs for VA K-12 schools will fund up to $3,500 per school to create a common operation picture through digital maps for school administrators and first responders to use during emergencies. The digital maps also will be available on first responders’ cell phones, laptops, and other devices, he explained.
WCPS applied for and received the state grant funds totaling $38,500 last month and coordinated with DCJS’s preferred vendors — Critical Response Group and ThunderCat Technology — to create the digital floor plans. Livesay said that ThunderCat Technology is one of the previously completed and approved DCJS vendors.
“These are very useful maps,” Livesay said. “They come in use not only for emergencies, but for community use events, door numbering, and those types of things. So, it’s a very worthwhile effort.”
The School Board also approved a $5,000 stipend for identified WCPS instructional assistants who have an active CNA certification. Currently, there are three of these positions in the school division, according to WCPS Special Services Director Michael Hirsch.
There will be no local cost because the stipend will be reimbursed by the state through both Medicaid billing and the Students with Intensive Support Needs Application (SISNA), Hirsch said.
WCPS instructional assistants who hold active CNA certifications will serve WCPS students who require all-day support in the areas of toilet etiquette, specialized feeding, stretching, and exercise, among others, said Hirsch.
Another item presented by Hirsch also received School Board approval.
Specifically, the board approved a new instructional assistant position that will be added to the Skyline High School Pathways and Connections classroom. The superintendent is also authorized to request the additional appropriation of $149,133 from the BOS.
Of that total amount, Hirsch said that roughly $33,133 will fund the Pathways and Connections position. The remaining Special Education 611 flow-through resources will be divided with approximately $75,000 applied to contracted services and about $41,000 covering instructional supplies, he said.
The board’s action agenda also included approvals for the new 2022-2023 Gifted Advisory Committee and a one-year employee benefits broker services agreement between WCPS and McGriff Insurance Services totaling $42,000.
National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day – Flags to be flown half-staff
This December 7, we remember the world-changing event known as Pearl Harbor Day, or as President Franklin D. Roosevelt said in his December 8, 1941 speech declaring war on Japan, “a date which will live in infamy.”
Early on Wednesday morning, December 7, 2022, many will gather at Pearl Harbor National Memorial for the 81st Commemoration. The early start marks the moment to the minute 81 years ago when Japanese warplanes descended on Oahu, killing 2,403 service members and civilians, injuring thousands more, and dealing a near-fatal blow to the Navy’s fleet at Pearl Harbor.
Most young Americans who died that day, along with those who served in uniform during World War II or on the home front war effort, are collectively known as the Greatest Generation. Their sacrifices reflect the theme of this year’s Commemoration: Everlasting Legacy.
The focus is the importance of remembering Pearl Harbor and how the Greatest Generation saved us from tyranny and brought us peace through reconciliation.
Governor’s Order for the Commonwealth of Virginia
In accordance with the authority vested in me as Governor, I hereby order that the flags of the United States of America and the Commonwealth of Virginia to be flown at half-staff at all local, state, and federal buildings and grounds in the Commonwealth in solemn respect and memory for the nearly 4,000 American service men and women killed or wounded in the early morning of December 7, 1941, at the United States Navy Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
I hereby order that the flag shall be lowered at sunrise on Wednesday, December 7, 2022, and remain at half-staff until sunset.
Ordered on this, the 6th day of December 2022.
Blue Ridge Wildlife Center Patient of the Week: American Goldfinch
These two American Goldfinches hit the same window at the same time and ended up here at the Center for care.
Though both are currently having breathing difficulty, and the male has significant head trauma with bleeding from the left ear, neither sustained any fractures. They are recovering together while they receive supplemental oxygen and pain medications.
Do you know what to do if a bird hits your window?
Though it was once standard to contain a window strike bird and let it rest for a few hours before attempting release, research has now shown that this is inadequate. Many of the issues we see with window strikes manifest 24+ hours after the strike, long after the bird can fly off.
If you see a bird hit a window, contain it right away and call the closest permitted rehabilitator. Do not release it! In the meantime, take steps to break up the reflections on your windows with tape, paint, or decals spaced no more than 2” apart. Prevention is better than treatment!
A new record!
Yesterday we surpassed last year’s intake number with this window strike pair. We are hopeful that they will soon be released together to enjoy the rest of their wild lives!
If you are looking for an easy way to help native wildlife become a monthly BRWC donor! For as little as $5/month, you can provide year-round, sustainable support that helps us fulfill our mission.
Local grandma steps out of shower, holds intruder at gunpoint until police arrive
A Warren County family had an exciting Monday morning after the family’s matriarch thwarted an intruder who may have intended to steal a family vehicle.
Tricia Montoney told Royal Examiner Monday evening that an eagle-eyed neighbor noticed a man in the family’s driveway, around 7 a.m. standing beside a Ford F-150 pickup truck belonging to Tricia’s daughter, Rachel Montoney.
Rachel said in a phone interview that “once our neighbor told me about the man attempting to enter my vehicle, I ran to get my mom.”
Tricia was in the shower but quickly put on a robe and grabbed the Smith and Wesson 9 mm handgun she keeps for personal protection. She then went outside to confront the intruder. By then, she said, the man was sitting inside the pickup with the door closed.
Rachel says her mom yelled to the intruder, “What are you doing? Get out of the truck and on your knees!” The man, later identified by arresting officers as Larry Huyser, exited the truck and complied with Tricia’s instructions while a neighbor called 9-1-1.
Huyser, who was dressed in a fluorescent green sweatshirt, jeans, and a black hat, said that he had gotten into the unlocked truck “because I was cold.”
Warren County deputies who arrived on the scene found Tricia holding Huyser at gunpoint. He was taken into custody without incident.
Huyser was booked into the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail (RSW) and charged with vandalism, damaging property, tampering and entering a vehicle, and breaking and entering an auto.
He is being held without bond. Online court records show that Huyser has been arrested before for similar offenses.
Both Tricia and Rachel expressed their gratitude for their neighbor and his assistance in contacting the police and for staying with Tricia as she held the intruder at gunpoint.
The Montoneys also appreciated the deputies, who arrived quickly and transported the intruder to RSW.
Asked if she would now lock her truck at night, Rachel said, “Absolutely!”
Both ladies expressed their gratitude that no one was injured and said they were especially grateful for their close friendship with their neighbors. “We take care of each other out here,” Tricia said.
Congressman Ben Cline holds Town Hall meeting in Warren County
Residents of Warren County were invited to a town hall event with Congressman Ben Cline (VA-06) on December 5, 2022. This town hall event was an opportunity for residents of Warren County to engage in a dialogue with Rep. Cline about important issues in Virginia’s Sixth Congressional District.
Watch the Town Hall meeting on this exclusive Royal Examiner video.
Frederick County Sheriff’s Office deputies help rescue horse after fall into pool
On December 2, 2022, Frederick County Sheriff’s Office Deputy’s responded to a residence on Green Springs Rd. in Frederick County. This was regarding an 1800-pound draft horse that fell into a swimming pool. Once on the scene Deputies determined that the horse had knocked over the top rail of the fence around the pool, jumped the fence and walked out onto the nylon pool cover causing the horse to fall into the water. However, its head and part of the body remained above water.
The Draft Horse was in the 9-foot end of the pool. Deputies Cram, ACO Deputy Tasker and Sgt. Hawse started cutting the pool cover away from the horse. Once it was clear of the cover and haltered, the horse was pulled to the shallow end of the pool where it was able to stand and catch its breath. Deputies were able to guide the horse up the stairs to the pool deck and into the yard.
The Veterinarian who handles the horse was called and advised to dry the horse as good as possible, feed it hay and keep it moving. That information was passed on to the owner’s children that arrived on scene. At the time of this email the horse was doing fine.
“You just never know what type of calls we respond to every day. This is one for the books. We are happy that it was witnessed, and we could respond to assist. Deputies were ready to go in the water if needed to make sure the horse stayed above water,” Sheriff Lenny Millholland observed of the incident.
Local doctors take time out to again treat third world country residents of Honduras
For the past 14 years, local Dr. Thomas (call me “Tommy”) Ball has ducked out of Front Royal Family Practice to spend up to two weeks leading a medical team to serve the people of Honduras, one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere.
Dr. Ball – okay, we’ll call him Tommy from here on – has always considered serving the under-served a core mission of his medical practice. For the past 20 years Valley Health has recognized and supported that mission as part of his faculty position at the Shenandoah Valley Family Practice Residency. “Valley Health recognizes that young doctors want to understand Global Health and want to contribute internationally. They allow me to devote time as a teacher to global health issues and they support our work overseas,” he told us.
Medical faculty from around Virginia have formed a nonprofit organization, SAGE (Students And Global Engagement), focused on introducing trainees to a small community in rural Honduras. As Tommy describes it, “We attempt to foster better health among the Hondurans and to expose Americans to the needs people face in a third world setting. It is a two-way street in which both parties benefit.”
SAGE helped build a small mountainside clinic in the village of Pinares, Honduras. They send medical teams for one to two-week stretches three times a year at four-month intervals. The area they serve is approximately the size of Warren County, with similar mountainous terrain. Average take-home pay for the mostly agricultural workers around Pinares is about $3-dollars a day (yes, a day, emphasized Ball).
Medication, some donated by Valley Health, helps patients cope with a variety of diseases including familiar problems such as diabetes, hypertension and arthritis, as well as problems uncommon here such as parasites caused by contaminated water. SAGE tries to go beyond just medication and address the underlying social factors that foster illness. In recent years they have donated monthly food packages to families with young children and filters to improve the safety of drinking water.
This fall the team included Dr. Paulius Mui and Dr. Sean Sutphen from the residency training program and seasoned local physician Dr. Shyama Rosenfeld, as well as support personnel in pharmacy, emergency transport, and anthropology.
Tommy has developed close ties and friendships in the community SAGE serves. He notes that he is older than most volunteers, but hopes he still has a few more years left of visiting and doing his best to improve health conditions in Pinares. “We have the personnel who want to help, but we are always struggling financially,” Tommy said, hoping that local service clubs and other non-profits might see their way to help support SAGE.
If you, the reader, are interested and require additional information, email Tommy at Front Royal Family Practice (email@example.com) or visit the SAGE website (sage-community.com). And yes, you may call him Tommy!