New coalition forms to support county schools

Without additional revenue the Augusta County School System will be required to slash another $5 million from the budget for the 2012-2013 school year. After a discussion with Augusta County Superintendent Dr. Chuck Bishop, a group of parents decided that a change must be made.

That change includes the formation of the Coalition to Support Our Schools, a grassroots organization of parents, business partners, school employees and church and community leaders.  Serving as the initial spark of momentum, Kim Bowman created an online petition (click here to access the petition).

Parents then began to generate a plan to convince the members of the Augusta County Board of Supervisors to increase the current support and revenue for Augusta County Public Schools.  Nearly 20 others joined Co-Chairs Jenny Hildebrand and Nicki Henrickson for the first organizing meeting on Saturday at a local restaurant.

“Our schools have lost over $13 million in funding since 2008. Programs are being cut back, class sizes are increasing, and educational resources are decreasing. This makes the 21st century education very difficult to attain. Investing in education now, by increasing revenue for Augusta County Public Schools, is fundamental to the long-term economic well-being of all our children and the entire community.” explained Henrickson.

The coalition’s mission is to establish a diverse group of community members who believe that a quality public school system is essential to economic growth, public safety and a high quality of life for all people. The short term goal is to convince members of the Augusta County Board of Supervisors to increase support and revenue, in some form, and commit no less than 47 percent of additional revenue to the public schools.

“Only 30 percent of the residents have children in the public schools but everyone benefits when we have a strong and effective school system,” Ms. Hildebrand shared with the organizing committee, “Effective schools are the leading indicator for businesses and manufacturing to move into a new area, crime is reduced, related health care costs decline and the community thrives”.

The Coalition partners will meet every Monday during the budget development season at Wilson Elementary School at 5:30 p.m. More information can be found at www.wilsonelementarypta.org/index.html.


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