Home Waynesboro School Board reviews budget priorities, school performance ratings
Local, Politics, Schools

Waynesboro School Board reviews budget priorities, school performance ratings

Rebecca Barnabi
Photo courtesy Waynesboro Public Schools.

Despite lack of line-item budget numbers from the Commonwealth, Waynesboro Schools is carrying on with the 2022-2023 school year.

On Tuesday, the Waynesboro School Board received updates on average daily membership, 2025 budget priorities and school performance.

Waynesboro Schools budgeted 2,825 students to attend 2022-2023 in kindergarten through 12th grade, and the average daily membership as of September 30 was 2,820.

“We are on target for what we have budgeted,” said Waynesboro Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeff Cassell. “I feel good about enrollment. It’s up a little, actually its real close to what it was last year on the same date.”

The school board will approve budget priorities for 2024-2025 at its regular November meeting.

Cassell said priorities continue to be providing adequate employee compensation and completing capital improvement projects.

A new goal for next year is taking advantage of ALL IN VA grant funding for tutoring services. Cassell said $1.3 million was allotted for Waynesboro Schools and the challenge is that the funds must be spent by 2026. Seventy percent would to improve academic performance and 20 percent for the new Virginia literacy legislation and 10 percent to improve student attendance.

The school system continues not to have budget numbers from the Commonwealth.

“I just don’t even know what to say about that,” Cassell said.

In an update on capital improvement projects, Cassell reminded the board that $14 million was spent in recent years to upgrade HVAC systems, windows, doors and other features in the school systems elementary schools, and the funds were cash only. The city does not have debt to pay on that funding.

Remaining projects are phase 2 renovations at Waynesboro High School.

Waynesboro Schools Executive Director of Instruction Tim Teachey provided a school performance update for the 2022-2023 school year. Berkley Glenn and Westwood Hills elementary schools and Waynesboro High Schools are accredited. Wenonah and William Perry elementary schools and Kate Collins Middle School are accredited with conditions.

The only change from 2021-2022 was that William Perry Elementary moved from accredited to accredited with conditions because of science scores.

As most school systems in the United States, Waynesboro Schools is challenged with correcting chronic absenteeism of students since the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If our kids get to school and we partner with our parents and our community, our kids will learn,” Teachey said.

He reminded the school board of a press release in early September 2023 from the Virginia Department of Education that all Virginia students continue to struggle with COVID-induced learning loss.

“COVID seems a long time ago, but our kids are still seeing the effects of it,” Teachey said.

He said teachers and staff should focus on the social and emotional wellness of students to get them back to where they need to be academically. During the pandemic, students lost their sense of routine and stability.

Cassell thanked Waynesboro High School’s administrative staff for their response Tuesday to a bomb threat, which apparently several schools in Virginia received.

“It was unique having parents in the building, not the students,” Cassell said. Tuesday was Parent/Teacher Conference Day at the high school.

The Virginia State Police is investigating the bomb threats.

The Waynesboro School Board approved a bid from Moore’s Electrical & Mechanical of Charlottesville for $852,000 to replace the chiller and water heater in Waynesboro High School. The school board hopes the work can be completed next summer while students are out of school.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.