By AILA BOYD

aboyd@ourvalley.org

Michael Beahm, who represents the Valley District, was named chairman of the Botetourt County School Board during the board’s monthly meeting last Thursday.

He replaced Michelle Crook, who represents the Buchanan District, as chair.

He has served on the School Board since April 1995 when he was appointed to the position.

“We’re going to try to continue to provide the best quality education possible,” Beahm said. “We’re not content to be second place. We stand out with our peer groups not only here in the valley, but across the state. We have a pretty good reputation. We want to make sure we can continue that.”

Beahm has served as chairman in the past. Scott Swortzel, who represents the Blue Ridge District, will continue to serve as vice chair.

Going forward, Beahm said he would like to continue the direction in which the school division’s academics are headed.

“We’ve got a good reputation academically,” Beahm said.

Beahm said that one of the biggest challenges the division faces is the availability of math and science teachers, which he attributed to the amount of compensation potential teachers would receive.

In pointing out that concern, Beahm explained that the lack of qualified math and science teachers isn’t unique to Botetourt County.

Superintendent John Busher noted that the majority of individuals who are qualified to fill those positions are working in the corporate world because of the higher level of compensation offered.

“If there’s more money to be made elsewhere, that’s where people will go,” Beahm said.

Beahm said that going forward, one of the big matters that the School Board will have to address is funding.

Specifically, he said, the School Board will be looking at the salaries of school personnel. He noted that since the financial crisis of 2007-2008, the board has made positive steps in terms of increasing salaries, but added that salaries still aren’t where he would like for them to be.

Beahm is the most senior member of School Board.

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