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Dr. Ross Resigns From School Board

CUMBERLAND – After amending the agenda for the August 8 Cumberland County School Board meeting, Dr. Christine Ross, the Board's chair, requested one of her fellow School Board members to make a motion that she resign from the Board.

“It is at this point that I need to ask one of you to make a motion that I resign from School Board,” said Dr. Ross during the meeting last week.

School Board member Doris Seal accepted and said, “I make a motion that you resign from the School Board.”

Ginger Sanderson then seconded the motion and it was explained that the resignation would be effective at the end of the meeting last Tuesday. It carried unanimously.

“It is for personal reasons,” said Dr. Ross during the meeting. “I had already turned in my information to run for School Board for another four years. It is my hope-I plan on running and it is my hope that my voters and my constituents will still elect me to be back on the School Board. I really enjoy my time and I really enjoy working with you all. We've come a long way in these four years…”

According to the Cumberland County Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Amy Griffin, after the meeting in an email to faculty and staff, Dr. Ross resigned for “personal reasons.”

But, “she does plan to remain on the ballot for School Board in the November 2011 election,” said Dr. Griffin in that email.

The Superintendent also informed The Herald this week that the Cumberland School Board may appoint an eligible person within 45 days from District Five to fill the position.

“If they do not act or cannot agree on a person, they will write the judge of the Circuit Court who may appoint someone. We will know whether they will appoint or request that the Circuit Court judge appoint someone by the September Board Meeting,” said Dr. Griffin.

The Board is following what the Code of Virginia states to do in this circumstance.

The School Board has also called a meeting for Monday, August 22 in the Middle/High School cafetorium. The meeting will be closed to the public for the discussion of personnel, and (A-2) and (A-4) for discussion of a student matter.

Dominion Power Grant

It was announced during the School Board meeting that Cumberland High School teacher, Angela Whittaker, was awarded a Dominion Educational Partnership Grant in the amount of $7,000.

Dominion reported that the response from the educational community was overwhelming, said Elizabeth Jamerson, supervisor of human resources.

“The evaluation process was extremely competitive,” she noted.

The funds will be used, according to the information provided, for materials in the new Renewable Technology course.

“We're excited about being a pilot program for the state,” said Dr. Ross about the new course that is being started in Cumberland for renewable technology and solar energy.

Lawn Care Contract

The school division put out an RFP for lawn mowing and landscaping services for the 2011-2012 school year. Three sealed bids were received on June 27, according to the information provided.

John's Lawn Care came in the lowest at $48,000. The other two were from GP's Lawn Care for $49,975 and Rolling Hills Landscaping for $49,995.

The administration recommended that the School Board approve the lowest bid proposal and award the contract to John's Lawn Care in the amount of $48,000. The motion carried unanimously.

Comprehensive Energy Conservation Proposal

The recommended energy conservation proposal was also approved.

The proposal, in conjunction with Honeywell, was first introduced last month and it will lead to sustainable energy and a cost savings, according to the earlier presentation, while providing “an innovating learning platform for students and staff.”

School Board member George Reid Jr. moved that the proposal be approved. It carried unanimously.

A Few Reports

Chip Jones, assistant superintendent of finance and operations, gave a school safety report, a building report, and a utilities update to the School Board during the meeting.

According to the safety report, bus inspection sheets were provided, fuel conservation practices were explained, and a bus loop diagram was shown for both the Elementary School and Middle/High School complex.

“Everyone that gets gas has a key to get into the pumps and then they type in a number and based on that that's how we go on,” said Jones about telling the difference between County users and school users of the gas facilities housed at the school.

Jones also noted that the school facilities were inspected in conjunction with the Cumberland maintenance department and no major safety concerns were noted but as the facilities have been occupied since school started there have been a few glitches with the air conditioning and an issue with the intercom system at the Middle/High School Complex.

“Since then we've been working with the company and there are proper surge protectors with the system,” he said about the intercom system.

Weekly, he said, a walk-through of the buildings is done by administration and monthly the fire extinguishers are checked and fire drills are conducted once per week for the first four weeks of school.

The school's crisis, emergency management, and medical emergency response plan was also presented for review.

In response to the replacement of the Career and Technical wing roof, an RFP to replace the roof will be issued by the County and the following is an anticipated timeline, said Jones.

The response to the RFP is due back in September with the replacement beginning in October.

During the roof replacement process classes located in the CTE wing will be relocated.

According to Jones, the project should be finished by November prior to the winter season.

In Other School News

The Board approved several policy updates and revisions this month.

The administration continually goes through the process of revising the School Board Policy Manual and the majority of the changes are dictated by legislative action resulting in the Code of Virginia being changed, according to Dr. Ross.

The policies were presented last month as a first read item.

The administration's organizational chart (policy CC-E) was also approved as presented for the 2011-2012 school year. The chart was also presented as a first read last month. The vote carried with four members voting in favor. Dr. Ross abstained.

Meet The Staff

On the first day of school, Ms. Jamerson introduced the School Board to a few new staff members.

The first was Rebecca Beasley. Ms. Beasley is in her eighth year of teaching and recently moved to Buckingham and married her husband, Kemper, in June. She grew up in Potomac, Maryland. She will be teaching fourth grade Social Studies at Cumberland Elementary this year. She has her Master's in curriculum and instruction from McDaniel College and received her National Board Certification in 2009.

Next, Ms. Jamerson introduced Michelle Yancey. Ms. Yancey grew up barrel racing Quarter horses in Chesterfield and is a graduate of Manchester High School and received her Bachelor's degree in History from Virginia Commonwealth University. She received her Master's in English with Teacher Licensure from Longwood University in 2007.

Pamela Fowler, a licensed registered nurse, will be the High School's nursing instructor for the new year. She has worked in various nursing arenas including oncology, orthopedics, maternity, surgical, long-term health, director and instructor of LPN school, and nursing assistant instructor and home health.

Meet The Community

The Meet the Community recognition for the month of August was John Carden.

Carden is the owner and operator of Carden's Farm and Home Supply, which has been in business in Cumberland since 1992. He recognized local farmers needs, according to Ms. Jamerson, and opened the store where farmers could purchase supplies and animal health care products, hardware, feed, seed, and soil amendments. In addition, he operates a full-time small engine and outboard motor repair shop.

“The Carden's pride themselves on being very personable and taking time to assist all customers with their needs,” said Ms. Jamerson. “What separates the Carden's business from larger stores is the fact that they know most of their customers on a first name basis.”

Board Comments

Ms. Sanderson explained that she had received a lot of feedback about the opening week at the school.

“They thought it went well,” she said about parents she had met over the last week. “They were very excited to come back to school before they ever got here today from the feedback I got about Open House.”

Reid noted that he had attended the Governor's Conference.

“It was nice to see School Board members from other divisions and it was nice to know that we are on a level with the other big school divisions. It was very nice…,” he said.

Student liaison Christopher Deane commended the Guidance Department on the first day of school.

“They had a lot of people in there this morning,” he said. “And they were shuffling people in and out and it went very smoothly.”

Ms. Seal mentioned that the Middle School had received the Making Middle Grades Work award.

“Congratulations,” she said.

She also noted the QuickStart Tennis program that occurred at the Elementary School.

“That's an option that hasn't been available for the students for a while,” she said. “I think this is a great option for the students to get involved in.”

George Lee Dowdy said, “Teachers seemed excited and everyone was ready for today.”

Dr. Ross also welcomed everyone back to school in Cumberland.

“It was a great school opening,” she concluded.