The Roanoke County School Board recognized students who are members of the 2017-2018 BCAT Motorsports team at its meeting on January 11. Three of those students, Zach Duncan, Zach Bush, and Tanner Pruzan, attend or recently graduated from William Byrd High School and the Burton Center for Arts and Technology (BCAT).
The students were introduced to the board by BCAT Principal Joe Hafey, who praised their coach and instructor, Chris Overfelt, for “his strong leadership, serving as a great role model while providing students a great education.”
Overfelt told the board that this was possibly “the best motorsports team” he had ever coached. They had overcome adversity during the year to place second in the nation at the Hot Rodders of Tomorrow 2017 National Engine Challenge competition. Eight teams from across the country competed for the title.
The team qualified to participate in the national championship by placing first at the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) competition in December.
TheHot Rodders of Tomorrow engine building competition consists of a team of students who, as quickly as possible, completely remove all parts of a standard engine, down to the engine block. The team then turns around and completely reassembles the engine. Judges constantly monitor the team’s progress. Should the team make any infractions, such as dropping engine parts or components, a time penalty is assessed.
During the national competition, the BCAT Motorsports team broke the national record with a total time of 15:33, shattering the previous record of 16:11 set in November 2015. Unfortunately, during their final run, the team incurred a five-minute penalty and missed repeating as national champions by three seconds. With their second place finish, each of the teammates won $9,500 in scholarships from three different schools.
Overfelt said he is so invested in the motorsports competition because it enables his students to win those college scholarships. Over the past seven years, the BCAT Motorsports Engine Building team has competed at the national level six times, winning the national championship two times (2014, 2016) and has held the national record two times (2014, 2017). Overall, the Motorsports Engine Building Team has won more than $1.4 million in scholarships for team members. One student in recent years accumulated $50,000 in scholarships, which completely paid for his education.
The School Board selected Jason Moretz, from the Windsor Hills District, to serve as its chairman for 2018. This is his first term as chairman.
Moretz was appointed to the School Board in September 2015 to serve a portion of the unexpired term for the Windsor Hills District. He was elected to serve the remaining unexpired portion in November 2016 and was re-elected to a full term in 2017.
Moretz is a 1992 graduate of Northside High School. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from National Business College and has almost 20 years of experience in the financial industry. He is currently employed by BB&T Wealth as a private advisor.
The board named Don Butzer from the Catawba District as vice-chairman. He was appointed to the School Board in July 2016, to serve a portion of the unexpired term for the Catawba District seat and then elected to serve a full term in 2017. He was employed by Verizon Communications, a Fortune 50 Company, for 39 years, where he was the executive responsible for Verizon’s Building Engineering and Facilities Management for the seven-state Mid-Atlantic Region.
The board welcomed new member David Linden, who replaced Hollins District’s Jerry Canada on the board. They thanked Vinton’s representative Tim Greenway for his outstanding leadership as chairman in 2017.
The board held the first “hardcore” budget work session for the 2018-2019 budget after the regular meeting. Assistant Superintendent Penny Hodge outlined the basics that the budget will be built around.
Student enrollment determines about half of the budget revenues. The enrollment (Average Daily Membership) will be estimated at 13,700 students for the next school year. The board does have a contingency fund of $2 million as a safety net if these figures prove to be inflated, in light of the fact that enrollments seem to be decreasing with the smallest kindergarten class in years for 2017-2018.
The local school budget is dependent upon the state budget, which won’t be finalized until the General Assembly adjourns in mid-March. According to information from the state, no salary increases for school employees are funded in FY18-19, although increases are on the table for December 2019. Under the governor’s proposed budget for 2018-2019, Roanoke County would receive $76,651,556 from the state, an increase of $1,436,606 based on the ADM enrollment of 13,700.
The local wealth index (Local Composite Index), which indicates the ability of a locality to finance public education, has increased slightly for 2018-2020 from 0. 3587 to 0.3620. Those figures indicate that of every dollar spent on education in Roanoke County Schools, the county is able to fund 36.2 cents while the state provides the remainder.
Preliminary estimates indicate that the funding allocation from Roanoke County may increase by $250,000 to $300,000 in the 2018-2019 budget.
Between increases from the state and the county and a reduction in the Virginia Retirement System requirements, the county schools may have an estimated increase of $2 million to build their budget around.
Finance Director Susan Peterson presented budget requests compiled from discussions with the central office staff and school personnel. She broke them down into three categories: investment in sustainability (increases required to maintain current program levels and school property); investment in people (compensation of school employees and their benefits); and program enhancements to expand existing programs or add new ones.
School Superintendent Dr. Greg Killough targeted his top priorities from the requests submitted and described them to the board.
In addition to the mandated sustainability issues, he recommended a step increase for school employees, a raise for substitute teachers who are being lured away by neighboring districts, an increase in stipends and supplements for academic and athletic leaders and coaches, provision for several staff positions during construction at Cave Spring High School to ensure student safety, and adding school detention and guidance positions to keep children with disciplinary issues in school. The system loses funds for students suspended out of school.
The School Board will continue to work on the budget in several work sessions in the next three months. The last date for presentation of the superintendent’s budget is March 20 with the FY18-19 budget to be adopted on March 22. The budget is due to the Board of Supervisors on April 1 for its consideration and approval.