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Grant will help Carroll schools

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Supervisors begin exercising their oversight of county's education spending.

By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

HILLSVILLE — Before appropriating an additional $622,000 federal grant to the Carroll schools last month, the county supervisors first had some questions for the superintendent.
One month after the supervisors said they would require categorical funding for the schools, Superintendent Greg Smith appeared before the county board at its December meeting about receiving a portion of the federal jobs grant.
The $992,441 grant that the Carroll schools received from the federal government was meant to keep teachers from losing jobs during the recession, and Smith requested that the supervisors allocate about two-thirds of that grant to the schools budget.
Educators learned that the grant had come through last August.
Smith explained that he acted based on a recent recommendation by the Virginia Schools Boards Association to get that money dedicated as soon as possible.
"Can you share with us your plan of what you're going to do with that?" Supervisor David Hutchins asked.
Smith answered that the schools anticipated using the grant as a budget supplement that would get rolled into the 2012 fiscal year.
The federal grant was to be used for jobs? Supervisors' Chairman Wes Hurst asked.
"Salaries, personnel, bringing people back," Smith answered. "In the legislation itself, there was discussion of bringing people back that were previously laid off — we do not have any employees currently in that status."
Instead of using layoffs, the school board decided not to fill 43 vacancies. Smith said that meant the schools didn't have to let anyone go.
Would the grant help fund any new curricula of study? Hurst wondered.
It's possible, Smith said. The schools have been working on plans to partner with Virginia Tech in an effort to increase workforce development training.
Educators hope that the university could provide researchers to work on the Carroll Schools Farm, and maybe part of this grant could go to pay their salaries.
Supervisors see extra workforce development as a positive for the area, and they would like to see that, Hutchins said.
"I guess I would have liked to hear a plan," the supervisor said.
If the schools knew it would get the funding back in August, it should have been possible to develop a plan, Hutchins said. He'd also like to see about a third of the grant dedicated to workforce development, if possible.
Hutchins made a motion to approve the appropriation, and it was seconded by Sam Dickson.
The motion was approved unanimously.