(March 2, 2021), The Executive Committee for School Consolidation is ecstatic with recent news of the General Assembly’s budgetary approval of our funding request to ensure a smooth union of both school systems in the Highlands. The General Assembly has formally approved a four year commitment to fund our local educational needs tied to these efforts. The first year amount from the Commonwealth will total $1.2M with additional $600k annually thereafter for three years. This structured allocation of funding is will go towards implementing an “Early Retirement Incentive Plan” (ERIP), salary equalization for employees upfront and those costs in the future.

A special thanks is due to our Legislators: Senator Deeds and Delegate Austin. Both worked tirelessly during this year’s Legislative session on the behalf of the Highlands to create this bipartisan agreement. We also recognize and want to thank all in the Highlands, as we know this has not been an easy process at times, but we have made progress that not only will benefit those currently enrolled in our schools, but future generations as well.

Those on the various committees for this effort recognize that we are now entering an equally exciting phase of this effort, one that is transitional which will call for and need community, student, parent and teacher input. The first item that will be coming out for public input from the Joint Committee, is all that goes into the process of naming the School System and developing a mascot through community involvement. Coming soon will be a regional community survey for the collection of popular names for the system. There will also be a student-specific interactive poll to decide mascot and color scheme.

We encourage all to stay tuned, and become involved in this process. We truly are committed to the best for those in the Highlands, students and teachers alike.

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