DOBSON — Surry County Board of Education members reluctantly Monday night voted to raise the student driver’s education fee from $40 to $65 in the wake of the General Assembly’s budget bill.
Director of Transportation Rodney Hardy made the presentation to the board Monday night at its regular session, explaining the state’s action changed the money earmarked for the program to non-recurring funds. Hardy was referring to action taken where the House’s approval Saturday followed closely the state Senate’s approval of a $21.1 billion compromise budget spending plan.
He told the board the proposal removed a $55 cap on the fee and allows schools to charge the true cost of the program, which could be as much as $300 in some counties. Hardy said the program’s cost locally for the past two years had been around $175,000 and said the cost, if not funded by the state next year, could fall in the $200 range locally.
Published reports suggest the Senate’s budget moved an estimated $26 million earmarked for drivers education out of the Department of Transportation and moved it to the Department of Public Instruction. Meanwhile, the Senate cut school bus funding 6 percent with the understanding the drivers ed money could be used to make up the difference. School Superintendent Dr. Travis Reeves said it could be months before all budget details will be known, but the district was positioning itself against a variety of funding scenarios.
In other business, Pilot Mountain Elementary School Physical Education teacher Travis Taylor, Assistant Principal Carla Coble, Rockford Principal Molly Anderson and Assistant Principal Carla Coble and teacher Carrie Hutchens were recognized by the board for receiving the $1,000 Zone Health Award from Prevention Partners.
The Surry County School System Health Advisory Council (SHAC), Prevention Partners and the Zone Health School Obesity Prevention Program began the cooperative effort in 2010 which spans 90 school districts. Franklin Elementary, Shoals, Westfield and Copeland have previously received this award. The funds will go towards buying equipment and supplies for garden projects at both schools.
Director of Plant Operations Robert Draughn briefed the board on the status of various school improvement projects which occurred during the summer break. He said painting at White Plains Elementary was “95 percent” complete with painting at Central Middle School being finished. Draughn said construction on a new press box at Surry Central is well under way with the old structure demolished and the new modular press box replacement delivered and ready to be set on the foundation by midweek, weather permitting. He said brickwork, decking, ramps, electrical connections and security; fencing on the press box roof were the next projects there.
A bleacher replacement project at Central Middle School is also under way with the old seats removed. Draughn said the new, 516-seat bleachers were scheduled to be shipped Sept. 9 with installation done by Sept. 19. He said staffers are adjusting the athletic schedule to accommodate this.
The board also approved a measure to promote the North Carolina Association of School Administrators’ public relations campaign titled “North Carolina Public Schools; Every Child’s Chance…Every Community’s Future.”
David Broyles may be reached at 336-415-4739 or on Twitter@MtAiryNewsDave.