A Credit To Buckingham

Published 6:05 pm Thursday, October 27, 2011

BUCKINGHAM – Before the school board approved its consent agenda at the October 12 school board meeting, Chairman Acie Allen expressed his appreciation to Dr. Edward Chernault for the written report on the school construction project on Route 20.

Allen added, “I hope to see that every month.”

Chernault, who serves as clerk of the works for the project, reported that the renovation and construction project is moving “at a very steady and positive pace.”

He stated that the majority of water lines were installed and underground conduit and electrical cable for the main service from Dominion Virginia Power was completed.

According to the report, brickwork is scheduled to begin in November and all new roofing should be finished around that time.

“Because the project is designed in stages, work will soon begin in the primary school on installing sheetrock and ceiling prep. These changes will greatly enhance the understanding and scope of work,” reported Chernault.

Public Comment

During the public comment segment, Bill Talbert, chairman of the board of supervisors, told the school board, “I would just like to say that I think you are doing a great job with the building project down on 20.”

He added that he has been to the site several times and would like to take a tour when the project advances a little more.

Superintendent Gary Blair thanked Talbert for his comments. He shared, “This has been the most closely watched and monitored project that I've ever seen.”

Dr. Blair expressed pride in Dr. Chernault, Chip Davis, and the school board for being very vigilant with every change order and every cent that is going into the project.

“And it is a great facility for our students and I appreciate your support,” stated Blair.

Fully Accredited

Although the unofficial results from SOLs taken during the 2010-11 school year indicated all the division's schools would maintain their fully accredited status, Dr. Blair validated that assumption on Wednesday.

“I am really excited to publicly report that all of our schools have reached the accreditation standards again,” stated Blair. “I think it is incredible in rural education that we maintained accreditation standards.”

He credited not only the students, support staff, teachers, administrators and parents but also a supportive community. “This is a great pride for all of us,” said Blair.

In August, Donna Matthews, Donna Matthews, director of academic services, provided an overview of what she described as her “hand-counted” unofficial and preliminary SOL scores from the 2010-11 school year.

Report of the Superintendent

Blair began his report with his recommendation to approve a resolution concerning the state's budget surplus. In turn, the board, with a motion by David Christian, unanimously approved the resolution as read.

The resolution, submitted by the Board of Directors of the Virginia School Boards Association, requests that the Governor allocates a fair share of the $544.8 million FY2011 budget surplus to K-12 public education in an effort to begin restoring funds cut from K-12 in Fiscal Years 2009 through 2011.

According to the resolution, per pupil state funding for public education has been reduced by more than 13 percent since 2009.

The next items in Blair's report were proposed revisions for two policies.

Reviewing the changes in Policy IGBB, Programs for Gifted Students, Blair said the revision deleted or specific academic from a sentence that read, “The school division has uniform procedures for screening, referring, identifying, and serving students in kindergarten through twelfth grade who are gifted in general intellectual or specific academic aptitude.”

Blair explained, “We identify children in general intellectual aptitude and we do not do that in specific areas so we would like that removed.”

The next revision was page 5 of Policy GBA-JFHA. Blair said the policy has to do with reporting complaints and updates to titles of several positions that have changed over the last several years.

Rather than waiting a month as they usually do after a policy is presented, the board adopted the policies as revised.

After reviewing two bids for liquid propane gas, the board went with Ellington Energy Services, Inc. with a low bid of $1.95 per gallon.

Before the board acted on the bids, Blair explained that requests for bids were sent to seven companies but only two bids were received.

According to the superintendent, the $1.95 will be the maximum price charged. If the current day of delivery price is lower, the division's price will be based on cost plus seven cents freight plus 19 cents per gallon.

Blair offered, “This is a positive move in the event that propane prices drop.”


Following a closed session to discuss personnel, student discipline, and a public contract, the board approved the personnel document as amended based on a recommendation by Thelma Llewellyn, director of student services.

The personnel agenda included the retirement of Wiley Allen. Danna Smith-Baird was appointed cafeteria manager at BCHS.

Other appointments included Emily Sprouse, Tiffany Johnson, Brett Caruso, Grandy Llewellyn, Dixie Smith, and Dana Taylor as teachers; and Ashley Davis and Barbara Wade, as aides, for the Dillwyn 21st Century Grant program.

Current job opportunities include an opening for an administrative assistant for school business operations and several positions for bus drivers. Additionally, due to increased enrollment in special education, one teacher and three special education aides are needed

Resolution on Tax Relief and Education Reform

After providing his fellow board members with copies of A Resolution in Support of Local Tax Relief and Education Reform, David Christian read the resolution authored by Dr. Wes Saxon with input from several education advocates around the state.

After some discussion on whether No Child Left Behind, NCLB, was worthy of reauthorization, the board adopted the resolution.

During the discussion, Chairman Acie Allen said he could go along with most of the resolution except for its last paragraph.

He explained that he could not vote for anything that would suggest NCLB should be reauthorized.

“Quite frankly, my feeling is that the federal government needs to leave education alone,” stated Allen. “I think the commonwealth has done a good job with education…I think we need the feds to leave us alone.” He added, “If they are not going to fund what they are going to make us do then they need to stay out of it.”

Christian pointed-out that part of the resolution was calling for the federal government to at least fund the mandated programs at the level they initially said the would.

Referencing NCLB, Christian stated, “I don't believe it is going away.” He added, “The name will probably change.”

He offered that if NCLB, which was supposed to be reauthorized in 2007, is not reauthorized, the federal government does not have to do anything as far as funding.

In the “be it resolved” section, the resolution requests that the Virginia School Boards Association, Virginia Association of Counties, Virginia Municipal League, and other relevant parties work together to bring all available resources to educate elected officials, administrators, and citizens on the urgent need to have Congress immediately fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and NCLB so that the local tax burden is immediately lifted.

The resolution further resolved that Congress immediately reauthorize NCLB with the needed improvements.

At the conclusion of business, Dr. Blair expressed his appreciation to Christian, who is a pharmacist, for administering flu shots to school employees.

In turn, Christian thanked Brian Green for organizing the clinic in such a way that employees did not have to wait. “They were able to come and go so that worked out nicely,” he added.

Christian said he would be back on November 1 and 2 at the bus garage to immunize the rest of employees who want the flu vaccine.

The board recessed to reconvene at 6 p.m. with the board of supervisors at the Agricultural Center.