To help mitigate the budget deficit for fiscal year 2019-2020, the Nelson County School Division has made a number of changes to staffing throughout its four schools. 

In a June 17 news release, the Nelson County School Board announced a number of administrative personnel changes. Nelson County High School Principal Janell Stinnett has been appointed to the position of director of secondary education; Ryan Yarzebinski, who has worn a number of hats most recently as Division Director of Data and Testing Specialist, will serve as supervisor of instruction; former Instructional Technology Resource Teacher and Assistant Director of Technology Greg Hill will serve as supervisor of technology; Brandon Garrett will move from assistant principal of the middle school to assistant principal at the high school; Kevin Walker will become an assistant principal at the high school after serving as interim since Fall 2018; former high school English teacher Jessica Shifflett will become assistant principal at the middle school; and former science and math teacher in Lancaster and Middlesex counties Robert Makulowich will join the division as assistant principal at Tye River Elementary School.  

"Please join us in congratulating these individuals for their appointments to new positions and we ask for your continued support and encouragement as they strive to master new responsibilities," the release said.

According to past school board and budget work sessions, a number of the personnel changes come with title changes to save money, such as positions moving from "director" to "supervisor" titles, despite having the same responsibilities. The division is currently seeking someone to fill the position of principal at the high school, athletic director at the high school, English teacher at the high school, a vacant spot in the transportation department, and an instructional coach. Last year, Tye River Elementary School had a math and reading coach, but now those positions are being consolidated into one. 

Shifflett is maintaining a positive attitude despite a trying budget season. 

"In times of hardship, our division is really good at pulling together," Shifflett said.

Shifflett said she is looking forward to taking her skill set to the middle school level and help the faculty with implementing best literacy practices throughout the school. 

Scott Belcher, the high school band and chorus teacher, is now preparing to teach band for both the middle and high school.

"As far as we know," Belcher said. "No one has come to me and said 'yes, that’s what we are doing,' but that’s what we are preparing for. It’s okay; it’s good and bad."

Belcher said he has always taught high school band and chorus himself and now, is planning on teaching middle school band in the morning and high school band in the afternoon. He said he will work hard with Phillip Kershner, the middle school chorus teacher, to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible with the changes.

"Basically it's a lot of 'wait and see' right now," Belcher said about personnel in the school division.

Despite everything, Belcher said he wants to focus on the positives for the upcoming school year.

"All of us are disappointed the budget didn’t work out how we needed, but Nelson is very strong and we’re still excited," Belcher said.

The school board chose not to hire a behavioral specialist, a welding instructor, an English as a Second Language teacher, and alternative education instructor as they had originally hoped for this upcoming school year.

After multiple discussions starting in May, the vote to approve the budget included decisions to reduce the per pupil student allocations to the middle and high schools, eliminate the amount to be paid to teachers for college course reimbursement, and to pass the costs of practice SATs on to 10th graders taking them.

The elimination of the double bus run in the afternoon and two bus routes is still up for discussion.

"Needless to say, 2019-2020 will be a very challenging year for us as we adjust to a reduced level of funding though we are confident our staff will continue to strive for excellence and put student achievement at the forefront of thoughts and actions," a June 20 Nelson County Public Schools Facebook post said.

The final balance of the budget has yet to come, and Division Superintendent Martha Eagle said previously the cost increase of healthcare and what plans are chosen by staff come August is one loose end they are waiting on before balancing the budget.

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Erin Conway covers Nelson County for the News and Advance. Reach her at (434) 385-5524.

Erin Conway covers Nelson County. Reach her at (434) 385-5524 or econway@newsadvance.com.

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