Shenandoah County residents to schools: Fund STEM, CTE

The Shenandoah Valley-Herald

WOODSTOCK — More than 690 Shenandoah County residents voiced their support for STEM, preschool and Career and Technical Education funding through an online budget survey in January.

Shenandoah County Public Schools conducted the survey on its website from Jan. 13 and Jan. 27. Results were released on Feb. 1.

The survey received 609 responses, with 314 of them, or 52 percent, coming from school employees and 295 from parents, students and other county residents.

When asked what the division’s top three funding priorities should be, 263 respondents chose Career and Technical Education, 172 chose school technology and 147 chose preschool programs.

Other choices included summer school, virtual courses and the Biomedical Academy at Central High School.

In a question about what the top co-curricular and extracurricular priorities should be, STEM programs and fine arts instruction scored the highest with 314 and 293 votes, respectively.

Additionally, 538 respondents support or strongly support providing additional resources for English Learners, formerly referred to as English Language Learners.

In a question asking what the division should do to reduce costs, most respondents opposed increasing class sizes and cutting positions and salaries, but supported consolidating some bus routes and implementing “pay to play” fees for sports and other extracurricular activities.

Schools Superintendent Mark Johnston said the high support for English Learners resources surprised and pleased him.

“I sometimes here anecdotal comments on the level of negativity in the community,” he said. “I thought perhaps there would be more negativity toward students learning English or students with disabilities and I didn’t see that. That makes me believe that that negativity is not as pervasive as it seemed.”

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