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Allen Excited About Coming School Year

BUCKINGHAM – F. Acie Allen will continue to chair the school board. On Wednesday, July 20, during the board's annual reorganization, Allen won the gavel for another year.

First elected as chair in July 2008, Allen was unanimously re-elected in 2009 and 2010.

However, this year Allen faced opposition. After David Christian nominated Allen, Sherry Ragland nominated Kathy Midkiff.

Subsequently, Allen, Pete Gowin, Christian and Thomas Hutcherson voted for Allen. Midkiff, Ed Wise, and Ragland voted in favor of Midkiff.

After the meeting, Allen offered, “I'm excited about another year although I am concerned about budget matters, which have been the toughest hurdles the last two years.” He added, “I look forward to working with the board of supervisors in a constructive fashion for the good of the county and the good of the children.”

As he has the past three years, Ed Wise earned the board's unanimous support for the vice chairmanship.

Assistant Superintendent Dr. James Dumminger will continue as clerk; and, Charlotte Patterson as deputy clerk.

Setting the meeting times prompted a discussion on the pros and cons of afternoon or evening meetings.

Ragland, who supported evening meetings when she came on the board in 2008, proposed a mixed schedule with afternoon and evening meetings.

She shared that over the last three years the evening meetings did not drawn the attendance she anticipated when advocating them.

In turn, Ragland moved to schedule the meetings for 2 p.m. from November through May, and, at 6 p.m. for the June through October meetings. However, she included that the December and May meetings begin at 1 p.m. because they include student recognition assemblies.

Although Superintendent Gary Blair suggested each school host its own awards assemblies, Hutcherson encouraged maintaining the division-wide recognition, noting he saw advantages in bringing all the students together.

Christian recommended holding the awards assemblies in the evening at the BCHS gymnasium. However, Blair shared that the daytime assemblies are preferable for student participation.

Ragland's motion drew a five to two count, with Hutcherson and Christian casting the opposing votes.

Unless otherwise posted, the board will continue to meet in the Window Room at the Career and Technical Education Center. Meetings are scheduled for the second Wednesday of the month with the exception of the April 18 and December 7 meetings.

Concluding the reorganizational tasks, the board reappointed Ragland as its representative on the board for the regional Governor's School.

Additionally, the board selected Thomas Hutcherson at its voting delegate to the Virginia School Boards Association Assembly and Regional Meeting at the 2011 VSBA Convention in Williamsburg. Ed Wise agreed to serve as the alternate delegate.

In the past, David Christian has served as the board's delegate. However, he is now chair of the VSBA's Central Region; and, in that capacity is a member of the VSBA board of directors.

New Courses

Following a presentation by Donna Matthews, director of academic services; Rudy Roethel, BCHS administrative assistant; and Roger Coleman, BCHS principal, the board approved three new dual enrollment classes.

With the approval, the courses, SDV 100, College Success Skills, one credit; English 243/244, Survey of Literature, six credits; and PE elective, one credit, will be offered at BCHS beginning in the fall of 2011.

In conjunction with the introduction of the courses, the trio offered an overview of a program that will provide highly motivated students the opportunity of earning an associate's degree in conjunction with their high school diploma-without leaving the BCHS campus.

Matthews shared, “We are doing everything we can to give these children as many opportunities as they can have while they are here on this campus.” She added, “We are trying to do it and watch our pocketbooks at the same time.”

According to Matthews, the program is a natural outgrowth of established BCHS dual enrollment classes and is in partnership with Southside Virginia Community College.

“There is an old saying that if you build it, they will come,” stated Coleman. “We are in the process of building high expectations for our students and this associate's degree program will do just that.”

He shared that the development of the program has been and will continue to be a team concept. However, Coleman added that he asked Roethel to head up the program. “And Mr. Roethel did a tremendous job in putting things together and talking with the instructors,” he shared.

Reviewing the educator requirements for dual enrollment academic classes, Coleman said teachers must have a master's degree in the content area or a master's degree in any area along with 18 graduate hours in the content area.

Roethel explained the educator criteria for adjunct courses requires baccalaureate and appropriate industry certifications along with approval from SVCC.

Those adjunct courses include computer information systems, nursing, criminal justice, forestry, and welding,

He explained that the adjunct courses open the program to average students looking for workforce development opportunities. “These lead to a certificate-type of program, not necessarily toward the general studies program,” stated Roethel. “So there are two tracts.”

Continuing, Roethel said that this spring they administered the SVCC placement exam to all eighth grade students at the Middle School.

“Our eighth graders did phenomenal,” he shared, adding that the students also had to apply to participate in the program and pass the initial tests for reading and writing.

The process yielded 30 eighth grade students for what is being called Cohort 2015. “That doesn't mean that we will have 30 that will graduate with their associate's. We are actually going to have more,” stated Roethel.

He explained that the cohort requirements include passing the SVCC placement test and scoring at least 39 on reading and 41 on writing. In their junior year, the students will be required to take a math test.

Additionally, the students must submit an application to SVCC; and, the parent and student are required to sign a contract.

According to the school's website, BCHS currently offers dual enrollment English, U.S. and Virginia History; U.S. and Virginia Government, Biology, Chemistry, Veterinary Science, Forestry, Nursing II, Computer Information Systems and its advanced component; Business Management, Design/Multimedia and the advanced course; and Criminal Justice I and II.

Roethel stressed that the cohort is only one portion of the program. “Students can take dual enrollment classes even if they are not in the cohort,” he reiterated. However, he said students must take the SVCC placement test to enroll in dual enrollment classes.

He added, “The point is to help them grow. To get them excited about doing more advanced work.”

According to Roethel, students, with the principal's permission, may also take online courses through SVCC in the summer or during the school year.

However, he added that SVCC requires students to score a minimum of three out of five in a course to receive college credit. Moreover, some universities require a higher grade for transferring those credits, said Roethel.

Explaining that the team will continue to develop the program as it evolves in order to meet the needs of students, Matthews concluded, “The sky is the limit.”

Policy Revisions

With 50 proposed VSBA policy revisions before the board, Dr. Blair explained that most of revisions were due to legal updates.

As customary, the revisions were presented to the board last month for the first reading.

The superintendent highlighted several of the more significant changes beginning with Policy DJ, Small Purchasing.

Blair explained that the proposed VSBA revision calls for raising the limit from $50,000 to $100,000 for single or term contracts for goods and services, other than professional services, for purchases not requiring competitive sealed bids or competitive negotiation. He reminded that Buckingham's current limit is $1,000.

Christian offered that $100,000 seemed like a lot of public funds to expend without having to acquire bids.

Referencing the division's $1,000 limit, facilities director Ivan “Chip” Davis shared, “It's extremely cumbersome sometimes…You can't buy a whole lot for a thousand.” He continued, “Vendors don't want to respond for such a small amount.” He offered, “I would like to see a higher level than $1,000.”

When Allen asked if $10,000 would be an agreeable limit, Christian said if it was raised to $10,000, he hoped they would still call around to check prices.

Noting the constraints of working within a budget, Davis, agreeing with Christian, offered, “You need to make the money go as far as you can.”

Vice Chairman Wise followed with a successful motion to revise the division's policy by raising the limit from the current $1,000 to $10,000.

Moving on to another policy revision, Blair explained that Policy JEA, regarding Compulsory Attendance, offered two options. The board opted for option two, which requires specific regulations.

According to Blair, Policy JFCR includes a revision adding synthetic marijuana to the list of illegal drugs in schools. He added that two other policies, JFCF and JDE also included revisions citing synthetic marijuana as an illegal drug in schools.

After several questions on some of the other revisions, the board unanimously approved the remaining revisions as recommended by the VSBA.

Budget Revisions

During his superintendent's report, Blair presented several changes in the FY11 and FY12 budgets.

Beginning with the FY11 budget, Blair explained they were recommending the board rescind a request for $109,790 from the county. He said the request was accidentally submitted twice.

Other proposed revisions included transferring a refund of $27,761.85 from architectural firm VMDO from regular operations to lottery in order to align expenses and categories.

Continuing, Blair requested the transfers of $62,580.85 used for the bus garage back to regular operations; and $34,819 from regular operations to lottery, in order to align expenses and categories.

Additionally, the superintendent requested a transfer of $57,587.96 from end of year operations to cover anticipated expenses for the bus garage as that project is closed-out.

Christian moved and the board approved the revisions as presented by the superintendent.

Changes in the FY12 budget approved by the board included additional revenue for alternative education, project graduation, and cafeteria fund. Revisions on the expenditure side reflected the actual expenses for FY11 with increases for VRS of 27 percent; health and dental insurance of 15 percent; and actual bills paid for FY12.

Other School Board Action

The board's approval of its consent agenda included the acceptance of three surplus vehicles donated by the sheriff's office.

Superior Vision will continue to be the division's vision provider for FY12. The board tasked Dr. Blair to seek additional health care options and report the findings at the August meeting.

In a unanimous vote, the board approved the purchase of two vans.

Near the end of the meeting, Christian questioned the condition of the football field. “It looks bad, it looks really bad,” he stated.

When he recommended the board authorize watering the field, Davis said it was being watered and added that he would talk with the turf specialist about the field.

Closed Session

After the opening of Wednesday's meeting, the board, citing personnel and the discussion of the award of a public contract, went into a closed session that lasted approximately three and a-half hours.

Upon their return to open session, the board approved the personnel docket as amended and the FY12 miscellaneous salary scale as presented.

The board also authorized Dr. Blair to develop an administrative restructuring plan and to report to the board at its August meeting.

Personnel appointments included Desiree Gregory, Project 4 teacher at Dillwyn Primary' Courtney Shumacker, 4th grade at Gold Hill; Woody Hanes, CTE nursing instructor; Tracey Long, biology and earth science teacher at BCHS; Katheryn Branch, special education teacher at Dillwyn Elementary; Tonya Rose, DP Title 1 contracted aide; and Franklin Moss, Brenda Gunter, and Joyce Booker, bus drivers.

Fall coaching assignments include varsity football head coach Craig Gill; defensive coordinator, Seth Wilkerson, and offensive coordinator Zach Penny; and, junior varsity head coach Michael Edwards; Chuck Meek, golf; Ethan Abruzzo, varsity volleyball; Michael Kimble, cross country; Joanne Kimble, locker-room supervisor; cheerleader sponsor Felecia Harris; and academic advisor, Ronnie Palmore, Jr.

Winter coaching assignments include Russ Gowin, head varsity basketball; Buck Gough, assistant; Michael Kimble, head coach JV basketball; Ethan Abruzzo, head coach, varsity girls basketball; and Justin Boucher, assistant coach; Linda Amos, head coach JV girls basketball; Felicia Harris, cheerleader sponsor; and Seth Wilkerson and Zach Penny, weight room supervisors.

Spring coaching assignments list Sarah McQuiddy, assistant coach, varsity softball; Kim Price-Chambers, head coach, JV softball; Mike Jones, head coach, varsity baseball and Reid Saeler, assistant coach; Justin Boucher, head coach, JV baseball; Craig Gill, boys track; Linda Amos, head coach girls track and Marie Black, assistant coach; Chuck Meek, head coach, varsity soccer and Lyndon Hill, assistant coach; and Erinn Lake, girls tennis.

Current openings include special education aide at Gold Hill; Project 4 aide at Buckingham Primary; BCHS cafeteria worker; BCHS alternative education teacher; DPS Title I hourly aide; and DPS 21st Century Grant site coordinator.