School Board recognizes WBHS swimmer Khalil Fonder, passes 2017-18 budget

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The Roanoke County School Board recognized WBHS swimmer Khalil Fonder for winning state championships in the 4A 100 fly and the 100 backstroke. He is shown with School Board Chairman Tim Greenway of Vinton.

William Byrd High School junior Khalil Fonder was recognized by the Roanoke County School Board at its meeting on March 30 for winning state swimming championships in the 4A 100 fly and 100 backstroke.

He was introduced by his coach, Krista Martin, and WBHS Principal Tammy Newcomb. Martin commended Fonder for his many achievements in swimming and winning this year’s championship by swimming with “passion and purpose” in “fierce competition.” However, she said she was even more impressed with him for serving as a role model with the “celebratory spirit” he continually demonstrates to encourage other students.

Newcomb said that she has known Fonder since he entered kindergarten at W.E. Cundiff Elementary and that he will be attending Arizona State once he graduates from Byrd, where he will be training with the coach of Olympian Michael Phelps. She fully expects him to participate in the Olympics himself one day. She also commented on his humble spirit and support for others.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Tim Greenway said that he is extremely proud of Fonder and continually hears proud comments about him as he is out and about in the community– “he is a wonderful representative for the county.”

In other board business, Jamie Soltis was named principal of Glenvar High School. He has served as principal at the middle school since 2012 and was assistant principal at Glenvar High School prior to that appointment. Current Principal Joe Hafey is retiring. Soltis is a Glenvar alumi, who says he bleeds “green and gold.”

The School Board passed the 2017-2018 school budget of $189.3 million on a 4-to-1 vote. The budget was described by Assistant Superintendent of Finance Penny Hodge as one of the most difficult budgets she has had to “wrestle” with.

The budget represents an increase of 1.6 percent over the previous year.  According to a release from the school system, “While the budget included an increase in revenue from the state of approximately $1.7 million, more than $1.36 million of that revenue was taken up by the state-mandated increases in the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) rates.”

The budget includes a one-step pay raise for employees as part of the compensation plan implemented by the School Board last year.

Hollins Supervisor Jerry Canada said that he believes it is a good budget, but could not vote in favor because the budget did not provide for full -time nurses at each school. Each school now has a nurse, but they are onsite about an hour less than students are in attendance.

Two school nurses addressed the School Board concerning the issue with several others in attendance.

School Board members said that they hope the full-time nurse funding can be discussed when developing next year’s budget.

The board also approved an increase in employee paid health care premiums following a significant increase in health insurance renewal rates this year.

“We are expanding the laptop program to sixth grade,” said Greenway. “We have to pay a mandatory $1.6 million into VRS this year and we are giving teachers the raises based off the compensation study from last year again. That’s essentially all we have available for the budget this year.”

Virginia law requires school boards to approve a budget by April 1 of each year to be submitted to the board of supervisors in each locality.