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JEFFERSON — The Ashe County Board of Education held a special meeting to discuss its 2019-2020 current expense and capital outlay budgets, totaling $754,023, on Tuesday, July 2.

The BOE’s current expense budget for the 2019-2020 fiscal year totals $501,079, with much of those funds being allocated for repairs in Ashe County schools.

Of the more costly maintenance items, $44,642 is allocated for flooring replacements at Ashe County High School and Westwood Elementary School. Finance Officer Amanda Coldiron said during the meeting that the repairs were necessary.

A total of $21,822 is allocated for installing LED lights at Westwood Elementary School. Superintendent Phyllis Yates said that the lights save money on the light bill for the school, effectively paying for themselves over time.

Other maintenance items included $14,070 to replace the air conditioning at Central Support Services, $13,797 to replace the front entrance windows at Blue Ridge Elementary School, $11,804 to repair door keypads at all schools, $5,542 for repairs to the leach field at BRES, $3,400 to repair roofing on a brick storage building at ACHS and $2,515 to refinish the gym stage area at Mountain View Elementary School.

A total of $225,000 is allocated for an increase in employee health insurance and retirement, and $26,904 is allocated for increases in worker’s compensation and property insurance.

An additional $48,971 was budgeted for the salary of an assistant principal at ACHS.

Regarding educational costs, $50,000 is set aside for an alternative learning program intended to help students with academic, emotional or social issues. The program will assist court-referred children in the school system.

A grant for the program was provided by the Juvenile Crime Prevention Councils, totaling $39,000. Though Yates was a proponent of the program, board member Dianne Eldreth expressed concerns.

“That environment often doesn’t lead to the results you think it would,” Eldreth said. “I have yet to know it to be successful.”

Board member Lee Beckworth also expressed concerns, but the board ultimately decided to approve the program.

An additional item was added to this year’s current expense budget to supplement the arts program for all schools in Ashe County, totaling $6,000. The funds will be used to purchase materials for the arts program.

A total of $2,000 was also budgeted for a theater supplement. Beckworth noted that the theater program at ACHS needs funding to continue growing.

For sports-related costs, the budget allocated $2,000 for new championship banners and $5,000 for field supplies at ACHS.

Other items in the current expense budget included $1,755 for counselor software and $7,500 for the continuation of the Leader in Me program at BRES.

For capital outlays, funds totaled $252,994 for the 2019-2020 fiscal year. Items included new wrestling mats at ACHS, totaling $15,000, bleacher repair and a new sound system at MVES, totaling $23,117, and $100,000 for the purchase of five new vehicles to be used by Ashe County Schools.

Yates said during the BOE’s monthly meeting in March that the vehicles were necessary due to the cost of repairs and safety concerns for current vehicles.

Other capital outlay items included $5,639 for LED panels at MVES, $35,679 for K-2 furniture at Westwood Elementary, $5,709 for a sound system at Ashe County Middle School, $4,300 to be used for a snow blower and air conditioner for the Early Learning Center, $32,000 for a new transportation truck and an additional $25,000 for the activity bus project.

A special, closed-session meeting of the Ashe County Board of Education regarding a student disciplinary appeal is scheduled for Thursday, July 11, at 7 p.m.

The next regular meeting is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 5, at 7 p.m. in the Ashe County Schools Annex.

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