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Spotsy School Board restores indoor track

Winter track is making a comeback in Spotsylvania County this year.

The School Board on Monday agreed to restore indoor track at the county’s five high schools at a cost of $16,000. The division eliminated the sport in 2009 to help close a $14.7 million shortfall.

“It’s not very expensive for the number of students that it reaches,” School Board member Dawn Shelley said. “So I think that this is $16,000 very well spent.”

In addition, 900 sports coaches and academic advisers will receive 10 percent increases to their stipends at a cost of $114,000 annually.

But the stipends are still less than they were several years ago because the School Board reduced the payments by a total of 20 percent in 2009 and 2010. It would cost another $116,000 to fully restore the stipends.

Head varsity football coaches will now receive a $3,475 stipend, a $315.90 increase over the previous school year. On the academic side, National Honor Society advisers will receive $1,375, $125 more than last school year.

The school system expects to save $250,000 this year by refinancing bonds. The School Board voted 5–0 to allocate $200,000 of those savings for restoring winter track, increasing stipends and offsetting a reduction in expected state revenue.

LaShahn Gaines, the division’s chief financial officer, wrote in a report that she didn’t want to allocate all of the expected savings because of “the volatile economic market.” The division expects to save a total of $6.3 million over 17 years by refinancing bonds.

School Board member Baron Braswell said he’d like to see any additional savings this year go toward the stipends.

School Board members Amanda Blalock and James Meyer were absent from Monday’s meeting.

Blalock, who missed her third meeting in a row, is at a local hospital with an undisclosed illness. It’s unclear when she will be able to resume her regular board duties. The last meeting she attended was on June 9.

Blalock, who has represented the Lee Hill District since 2008, told The Free Lance–Star that she was “fighting an illness.” She declined to elaborate.

Blalock’s Twitter account has a picture of the Massaponax High School cheerleading team holding posters in support of her. One of the signs says: “We love you! Get well soon!”

Superintendent Scott Baker has been giving Blalock updates on division matters, a schools spokeswoman said. He brought a message from her to Monday’s meeting.

“I wanted to share on her behalf her appreciation for all the thoughts, prayers and well wishes that have been provided to her … as well as the support that many folks have provided directly to her family,” Baker said.

“She continues to recover. We look forward to her being able to come back with us present at meetings very soon.”

Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402