Carter G. Woodson

Published 4:24 pm Tuesday, February 14, 2012

BUCKINGHAM – During the public comment segment of its February 8 meeting, the Buckingham County School Board heard three requests regarding naming the elementary school on Route 20 in honor of Carter G. Woodson.

Geraldine Jones, chairperson of the education committee for the Buckingham County Branch of the NAACP, was first to the podium.

She began, “On behalf of the Buckingham County Branch NAACP, we are requesting that the Buckingham County School Board give serious consideration to the naming of the new elementary school located on Rt. 20 as the Carter G. Woodson Elementary School.”

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Ms. Jones read a letter from the organization that was signed by its president James L. Jones.

The letter outlined that in 1954, the school board built a new high school and named it after Carter G. Woodson, the renowned African American scholar and son of Buckingham County.

“Best known as the Father of Black History, Carter G. Woodson was born in the New Canton area of the county,” shared Jones.

As offered in the letter, Carter G. Woodson was the son of former slaves and although his parents could not read or write, they instilled the importance of education in their nine children.

In turn, Carter G. Woodson went on to earn a Ph.D. in history from Harvard University, becoming the second African American to achieve that milestone.

“He established the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History and the Journal of Negro History,” read Jones.

The letter noted numerous schools across the state and the country named in honor of the legacy of Dr. Woodson.

“A school named for him would be an honor for Buckingham County. Pride would be instilled in our students as they become aware of the great educator,” read Jones.

According to the request, a school named after Dr. Woodson would serve as a tourist attraction for visitors to the county.

“Carter G. Woodson alumni would also truly appreciate being able to visit the alma mater and reminisce their high school days,” continued Jones.

The letter explained that Carter G. Woodson High School became Buckingham Junior High School in 1971. Later, the school became Dillwyn Elementary.

“Many in the county are voicing their feelings that the school has significant meanings to the Buckingham community,” read Jones. “We would like this request to be considered by the board and an appropriate time be scheduled whereas the NACCP members can further address this concern before the board.”

The letter concluded, “We look forward to a positive response from our elected board.”

As she ended her presentation, Jones gave Chairman Acie Allen a list of names of people who were unable to make it to the meeting but supported the request.

Framer C. Harris was next to the podium. He, too, offered a letter to the board requesting the name Carter G. Woodson be placed on the new complex.

However, Harris specified, “I would like for it to be placed on the right side, upper level.” That portion of the facility includes the building that formerly served as Carter G. Woodson High School.

Recounting the numerous accomplishments of Dr. Woodson, Harris stated, “I believe that Carter G. Woodson will not only serve as a role model for the youth in the school system of Buckingham County but also as an inspiration to citizens of Buckingham County.”

School board member Thomas Hutcherson was next to present a request to name the upper elementary school section Carter G. Woodson.

In his request, Hutcherson wrote, “Dr. Carter G. Woodson, as you well know, has done great things and it will be an honor to have that section of the school named after him. It was the original name of that portion of the building.”

Sharing a copy of a newspaper article on Dr. Woodson, Hutcherson reiterated, “I think if Buckingham considered this, it would be an honor to Dr. Woodson.”

With his written request, Hutcherson also provided a copy of the school board's policy on school names.

That policy, Policy FFA, adopted in 2004, states, It is the responsibility of the Buckingham County School Board to determine the name of schools in the division. The Board will solicit and accept input from the public regarding school names but reserves the right to make the final decision regarding the name of any school. Suggestions regarding the name of a school must be in writing, must state the name of the person or group making the suggestion, and must state the reasons supporting the suggestion.

No school will be named for a living individual. Schools may be named for individuals who have been deceased for at least 10 years.”

Suggestions for Names Due No Later Than March 13

Chairman Allen, thanking Hutcherson for reminding him of the policy, added, “Basically, to me that says that there is no need to have a public hearing on the issue.”

He offered, “However, anyone who is interested can certainly submit any information they want to in writing to the school board office.”

Sharing that although the board would not be considering the decision at the next meeting, Allen recommended they set a deadline for accepting suggested names for the Route 20 project.

After discussing the issue, the board agreed that the deadline for submitting names would be the day before its March 14 meeting.

With the renovation and expansion of the two schools, the campus will encompass a lower elementary school and an upper elementary. Shared areas include the cafeteria, library/media center, and other resource areas.

Since the inception of the renovation project, the buildings have been referenced as Dillwyn Primary, for grades K through second; and Dillwyn Elementary, for grades third through fifth.

Electrical Problem at Gold Hill

During his report, Superintendent Gary Blair advised that there was an electrical problem at Gold Hill Elementary School on Tuesday, February 7. He said the situation caused smoke and sparks in the cafeteria area.

Dr. Blair thanked the school's principal Jennifer Grazier for her decisive response to the situation.

Chip Davis, facilities director, explained that there was an electrical short in the kitchen's washroom. He reported that Arvonia Volunteer Fire Department was first on the scene.

“One of those circuit breakers overloaded,” shared Davis. “We were able to get a certified electrician in there within an hour and a half.”

Davis, noting that everyone reacted very calmly, concluded, “It went very well and with minimal damage.”

Chairman Allen offered, “We want to thank all of you, everybody involved, for the prompt action.

School Board Appreciation Month

Announcing that February is School Board Appreciation Month, Dr. Blair read Governor McDonnell's Certificate of Recognition for the observance.

Paying tribute to local school boards, the document expressed appreciation for the efforts of local school board members “to make the Virginia public school system an excellent place in which to educate its youth.”

Blair shared, “Personally and professionally, I wish to thank all of you for keeping what is important-important; and, that's our children.”

Continuing, Blair said February is also School Board Clerk Appreciation Month. In turn, he thanked Dr. James Dumminger for his dedication and integrity.

Workers' Compensation Award

Holding up a wooden plaque, Superintendent Blair announced that the school division received the Virginia School Boards Association Workers' Compensation Award.

“It's the hard work that we all do,” stated Blair. “This is a team effort to make sure the schools are safe and accident free.” He added, “This is a coveted award. It doesn't only mean that our people are safe, it keeps the cost of insurance down.”

Allen noted that along with the transportation and maintenance employees they also have to thank the principals, teachers, and all personnel. “Your being careful and trying to do things the right way and not taking any chances is how we were able to win this award,” stated the chairman. He added, “Congratulations to all of our workers and everybody responsible for this.”

Policy Revisions

The board approved changes to Policy JO as presented during the January meeting. According to Blair, the policy deals with maintaining student records. The revision adds a section regarding electronic information that can be exempt from the records.

After the board approved Policy JO, Blair provided an overview of two policies the board will be asked to act on next month.

Policy GDR focuses on recording staff meetings, evaluation meetings, disciplinary meetings, and other meetings between administrators and teachers or classified employees.

Blair explained that he is recommending adding a civil leave clause to Policy GCBD, the division's leave policy.

Offering that there was no provision in the policy for a school employee who serves on the board of supervisors, Blair said he wanted to be able to grant professional leave to Donnie Bryan, a teacher who now serves on that board.

However, as Blair noted, the policy states, “Approval of leave may be contingent upon the ability of the school system to provide a proper continuity in the instructional program and or other job responsibilities.”

Research Study Approved

Agreeing to a request by Superintendent Blair, the board approved the division's participation in a University of Virginia research study to investigate the impact of architecture on the school environment and healthy eating.

In a memo to the board, Blair explained that the research topic is a relatively new one and has the potential to be of significant value not only for students in Buckingham but also for school age children across the nation.

Prior to the vote, Allen asked if the study would interfere with instructional time. Blair responded it might take a little bit of time but not a whole lot. He said it would basically involve questionnaires and observations.

When Hutcherson questioned whether there would be any cost to the division, Blair said there would not.

In Other Board Action

In a unanimous vote, the board approved its consent agenda as presented. The agenda included minutes of the January meeting; approval of bills and accounts; and building and grounds requests.

Concurring with a recommendation by its financial consultant, the board approved transfers of lottery and construction funds.

Noting that the county and the school division use a different system, Blair explained that the transfers would provide an action trail, or paper trail, to document that difference.

The board approved an overnight field trip to VMI for several JROTC cadets and their instructor


Prior to a closed session, Dr. Blair explained that the session was needed to discuss a personnel issue related to junior varsity soccer in addition to the personnel agenda.

After returning to open session, the board added junior varsity soccer to the athletic program.

The board also approved the personnel agenda as amended. However, the motion drew a six to one vote with David Christian opposing.

Appointments included David Glasscock, special education at Dillwyn Primary; Sandy Wier as school finance manager; Cheryl Davis, part-time business teacher; Seth Wilkerson, assistant coach for boys track; Casey Dunkum, assistant coach for varsity softball.

Additionally, the position held by Patrick Moore was reclassified from technology specialist to network manager.

Along with the retirement of Rosemarie Amos, BCHS foreign language teacher, effective June 30, the personnel agenda also included the resignation of Rebecca Strosnider, second grade teacher at Buckingham Primary, effective June 30.

Rather than adjourning, Chairman Allen recessed the meeting until Wednesday, February 15, at 6 p.m., when he said Dr. Blair would present budget ideas for FY 2013.