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Student Achievement Honored

BUCKINGHAM – December's school board meeting began in the auditorium of Buckingham County High School with a celebration of student achievement.

The countywide awards ceremony recognized students who earned a perfect score of 600 on one or more SOL, Standards of Learning, tests taken during the 2010-2011 school year.

Representing more than ten percent of the student population, 204 students earned 258 perfect scores.

After each student received congratulatory handshakes from Superintendent Gary Blair and members of the school board, Chairman Acie Allen told the students, “Congratulations to everybody. We are so proud of you.”

Allen continued, “One thing I want to make sure we say to all of you is thank-you for making us look good.”

After the awards ceremony, the school board recessed briefly and reconvened in the Window Room at the Career and Tech-nical Education Center.

The business portion of the meeting started with Malcolm Booker, Jr., Clerk of the Buckingham County Circuit Court, ad-ministering the oath of office to the school board for the term beginning on January 1. David Christian was absent due to a prior work-related commitment.

All of the incumbent members were re-elected in November. Only one, Pete Gowin, representing District 4, Maysville Pre-cinct, faced opposition.

Congratulating each member, Booker offered, “You certainly do a tremendous job.”

Before moving on with the agenda, Dr. Blair recognized the division's maintenance workers. Explaining that Kenneth Boley, maintenance supervisor, has been out on sick leave since October, Blair praised Ivan “Chip” Davis, facilities director, and the maintenance crew for “going above and beyond on a daily basis.”

In turn, Davis shared that he wanted Ben Lang, Roger Shumaker, and Jaime Trejo to know how pleased they were that the three of them “stepped it up.”

Davis stated, “These men are the backbone of what makes things work around here.” He added, “It is an honor and a privi-lege for me to work with them. I have total admiration for their skills.”

According to Davis, during Boley's absence, the three employees have worked shoulder to shoulder to see that the work is done. He asked the men to stand and introduced each of them to the audience.

“We have really missed Kenneth Boley and his leadership but they have really stepped-up to the plate and were able to fill in and do the job,” he shared.

“They are genuinely interested in the welfare of the children and they know their responsibility in keeping things going,” stated Davis. “And, I would like to thank them for all that they do.”

Chairman Allen reiterated, “We want to thank all of you gentlemen. Thank you so much.”

Principals Named

After a two-hour closed meeting to discuss personnel, Allen announced that in preparation of the opening “sometime in the near future” of the schools on Route 20, Joan Staton will be the principal of the elementary portion and Pennie Allen will be the principal of the primary portion.

Following the announcement, the board approved the personnel document as amended.

Other personnel items included the resignation of Zach Penny as weight room supervisor; Carol Kipp, Title 1 hourly aide at Gold Hill; and Mildred Toney, aide at Buckingham Middle School.

Personnel appointments included Paul Imig, finance consultant; Charity Pierson, hourly aide at Gold Hill; Krissy Stearrett, head varsity softball coach; Lisa Word, head JV softball coach; and Tracey Long, assistant JV softball coach.

Amanda Rucker, parent worker; Heather Stevens, parent coordinator; Sallie Kimberlin, parent worker; and Jerome Reed were appointed to work with the Dillwyn Primary 21st Century Grant

The personnel agenda noted that Wendy Oliver declined the position of administrative assistant for school business opera-tions.

Evaluation Revision Update

Explaining that due to state regulations, every school division in the commonwealth is updating evaluation systems and crite-ria, Blair said he asked Jennifer Grazier, principal of Gold Hill Elementary School, to attend a statewide meeting and head up the committee to revise Buckingham's system.

Brian Green, director of human resources, and Grazier followed with a presentation on the revision process.

Green explained that the Virginia Board of Education was mandating school divisions establish new guidelines for teacher evaluations, which must be in place July 1, 2012. He said the guidelines must be consistent with performance standards.

According to Green, the seven standards include professional knowledge, instructional planning, instructional delivery, as-sessment of and for student learning, learning environment, professionalism, and student academic progress.

He added that the guidelines recommend student learning and student growth account for roughly 40 percent of a summative teacher evaluation.

Providing some background on the current system, Grazier said the division was initially doing evaluations based on over 20 standards.

She shared that at the conference Dr. James Stronge, of the College of William and Mary, outlined the primary purposes of the evaluation system beginning with improving student achievement through the quality of instruction by assuring accountabil-ity for classroom performance.

Continuing, Grazier said the second purpose is to contribute to the successful achievement of the goals and objectives de-fined in a school division's educational plans.

“Currently our teachers are giving us annual goals,” said Grazier, adding that two of the goals are professional and one is personal. “Our teachers will be key players in developing professional goals and how they want to meet these objectives.”

She explained that another purpose of the evaluation system is to provide a basis for instructional improvement through pro-ductive teacher appraisal and professional growth. “It is not just going in and observing one time and giving them feedback,” said Grazier. “It is a growth process.”

The evaluation system would include shared responsibility between the teacher and the principal or evaluation team in a col-laborative process that promotes self-growth, instructional effectiveness, and improvement of overall job performance, stated Grazier. She emphasized, “It is a team effort.”

Referencing an upcoming principals' meeting, Grazier said she and Green would be introducing the concept at that meeting and would be asking for about five names of potential committee members from each building.

According to Grazier, she, Green and Vickie Craft would be providing training and support to the resultant elementary, mid-dle, and high school sub-committees.

“We are going to be facilitating and walking them through this process,” said Grazier. “As I said, teachers have a stake in this.”

Craft will work with the elementary level subcommittee, Green with the middle school, and Grazier with the high school and the career and technical education center.

Grazier said the committee meetings would begin in January, with final submission of the plan due to the school board by June.

According to Grazier, the goal is to utilize the format from Orange County Public Schools. She explained that Dr. Stronge pi-loted that division's plan with the Virginia Department of Education.

Noting the performance and evaluation system is very complex and the plan must be in place within less than nine months, Grazier offered, “The Department of Education said that we did not have to reinvent the wheel.”

She continued, “So we can graciously adopt the wheel that is already there to meet our needs with the acknowledgement.” Grazier added that over the next few months they would look at that plan, see how it fits with Buckingham, and move forward from there.

Superintendent Blair offered that the Orange County plan would provide a “springboard” for Buckingham. “This is going to be an evaluation for teachers by teachers and by administrative personnel and support personnel,” he stated. “For the majority of us, we do want accurate feedback by our colleagues and our administrators.”

Chairman Allen emphasized the importance of concentrating on educating the kids not evaluating the teachers.

Academy Awards

Dr. Blair presented Virginia School Boards Association Academy Award certificates of recognition to Allen, Pete Gowin, Thomas Hutcherson, and Kathy Midkiff.

Dr. James Dumminger, clerk of the school board, and David Christian each received an Award of Excellence, which includ-ed a certificate and silver pin.

Blair explained that the VSBA annually recognizes board members who attend VSBA Academy programs designed to edu-cate them in boardsmanship skills and curriculum issues.

Activity Fund Audit

Superintendent Blair reported on the results of the annual school-activity fund audit for each of the schools.

“Everything has been done in accordance with normal financial reporting procedures,” shared Blair. “Robinson, Farmer and Cox and Associates did not identify any deficiencies in internal control and financial reporting that they would consider internal weaknesses.” He added, “We take this very seriously as do our principals. And, I want to congratulate each and every one of them.”

According to Blair, the auditors did not offer any comments or recommendations at either Dillwyn Primary or Gold Hill El-ementary. In turn, he congratulated Pennie Allen, principal at DPS, and Jennifer Grazier, principal at Gold Hill. “That is out-standing,” said Blair.

He shared several recommendations made by the auditors for some of the other schools including listing students by name on receipts rather than referencing them generically; and, making deposits on time.

Blair offered, “I really appreciate all of the schools maintaining the integrity not only of our instructional program but our fi-nancial program.

Thanking the principals for their hard work, Allen noted that many of the funds involve the keeping of several subcategories, and different clubs and organizations.