ALLEGHANY COUNTY, Va. – Alleghany County and Covington are moving ahead with plans to consolidate the two school systems into one. Representatives from both school boards, city council and the board of supervisors met Thursday night for the first time to start planning.
During the organizational meeting, they elected Jacob Wright as the committee chair, who also serves as the Alleghany County School Board vice chair.
Wright says they have $400,000 from Virginia lawmakers to spend coming up with a plan. He says the money will be used to hire attorneys and figure out how a budget works between these two separate entities so there's not a fight every budget year. The legislative bodies will need to agree on several things including a funding formula that is going to have to be put into law, how the school system is governed, etc.
Wright says according to population numbers, Alleghany County should have more seats on a newly formed school board but Wright says it can't be weighted too much to one side or the other and the numbers should be pretty even.
Wright says ideally they would like a plan in place by Christmas. They would go to the Virginia General Assembly in 2020 for funding and the new budget could start July 1, 2020. He would like to start the 2020 school year as a joint system. He says they need money from Virginia to make the plan happen.
"If we talk about it for too long it's not going to happen," said Wright who says the discussion has been going on for seven years.
Wright says there is a difference in salaries between the two school districts and that will also have to be worked out.
"We think people that have the same job title should be making the same amount money," said Wright, who added they will get rid of duplicate positions through attrition over time. "We don't want anyone to lose a job."