BOTETOURT – The Botetourt County School Board agreed to give up $334,000 that’s part of the school division’s Textbook Fund to improve the county’s General Fund balance.

School Superintendent Dr. Tony Brads asked the board to consider the request at its regular January meeting last week.

Brads said the school division is required to have a Textbook Fund, and the locality has to contribute to that fund as a match with state dollars for new textbooks.

Brads said the school division has anticipated higher expenses for textbooks and has made contributions to that fund in excess of what’s been required by the state over the years, and now the fund has $1.7 million in it.

He also said the state has lagged in approving new textbooks. The updates aren’t done until the Standards of Learning (SOLs) are updated and the state is about two years behind doing that. He did say the state will adopt new history and social studies textbooks this year and the county’s share of replacing those textbooks is expected to be $350,000 to $400,000.

“It would help the county with its fund balance,” Brads said of the request to relinquish some of the Textbook Fund.

Brads said the request was “initiated simultaneously by the County Administrator (Jerry Burgess) and the Superintendent of Schools (himself),” in response to a question from the School Board about where the request came from. “It’s very much a collaboration…. and it shores up the county General Fund balance.”

Brads also noted the funds come from county taxes anyway and if the school division needs the funds, it can go back to the county and ask for them.

Fincastle District School Board member Jack Leffel said, “It just seems like common sense to me.”

Brads also gave a brief budget update. The schools have held two public budget input sessions and a third was scheduled last night, Tuesday, Jan. 19 at Central Academy Middle School.

“Everyone knows how grim things are,” Brads said, and commended the board for seeking public input on the school budget.

In other matters, the School Board:

• Elected Michael Beahm chairman and Jack Leffel as vice-chairman for 2010.

• Beahm appointed Leffel as the school division liaison to the Jackson River Governor School; Scott Swortzel as liaison to the Botetourt Parks and Recreation Commission; Ruth Wallace liaison to the Botetourt County Schools Education Foundation; Kathy Sullivan liaison to Character Counts! Committee; Wallace to the school calendar committee; Swortzel to the Business/School Partnership Advisory Committee B•TEC; Leffel liaison to the Gifted Advisory Committee, and himself to the Roanoke Valley Regional Board.

• Beahm appointed the whole School Board to the budget committee as a committee of the whole. Its first meeting is January 28 at 8 a.m.

• Approved a restructured school bus driver pay scale that includes a consistent rate of pay for all extra duty work.

• Approved a revision to the School Board policy concerning holidays and vacations for 12-month employees.

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