'Keep The Resolution And Fund The Schools,' Dr. Ross Exhorts

Published 4:03 pm Thursday, February 23, 2012

CUMBERLAND – Besides attending to regular business items and recognitions, much of the County's School Board discussion during the regular meeting in February was centered on the 2012-2013 proposed budget and anticipated funding shortfall from the state.

“Even though 36.2 percent of Virginia's schools are rural,” offered School Board member Dr. Christine Ross about state budget funding, “only 33.8 percent of the state's education funds come to rural districts. So that's not even an equal match. I would like to see an equal match there but we're still a little bit shy.”

Dr. Ross also mentioned to fellow board members about the School Board Appreciation recognition received from the Governor and said, “I appreciate the Governor giving us his support for school boards and public ed. but I'd rather see his support not through a mandate or his resolution and a pat on the back but by funding public ed. better so that we can actually do what we need to do for kids. Keep the resolution and fund the schools.”

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Dr. Ross later presented her research on how funding plays out in the proposed Governor's budget for public education and the prison system.

“I went back and looked at it this year and, yet, still when we look at comparing our per person money spent on public school for children versus what we spend in the state for prisoner in the proposed budget for 2013 the amount of money we are going to spend on a public school student is $5,494. And, yet, per prisoner we are proposing to spend $83,388… The price of balancing Virginia's budget should not be on the future of our children's backs. What are we going to give up…I propose to ask the Governor how we are going to do that when we continue to see those numbers rise. We can't see 40 faculty members leave and still think we can do the job we did six years ago. What are we going to give up?”

School Board Goals Report

School Board Chair Ginger Sanderson requested that the School Board members each provide an update on different aspects of the goals.

School Board member George Lee Dowdy III expressed that he went to see Senator Tom Garrett and Delegate Tommy Wright, along with the school administration and School Board member Eurika Tyree.

“We pled our case for issues that are up as Bills at both the House and Senate…things that are close to our heart,” he said. “There were three issues that I spoke about.”

Dowdy went on to describe that he lobbied for the school against the proposed “Kings Dominion Law,” in opposition of Charter Schools; and on the VRS (Virginia Retirement System) rate.

“Charter Schools-we are very much so against Charter Schools,” said Dowdy. “Especially in this region because it would take students out of our schools and it would take those test scores and much needed funds…and put them in other arenas and we don't want that to happen. We want to keep Cumberland as strong as it could be.”

Dr. Ross also addressed the VRS rate increase.

“The VRS is probably the most hardest hitting one for most of us in Virginia,” she said. “Whether you are in a rural school or in Henrico or whatever school system you may have. The VRS is really hitting us hard at this point.”

Dr. Ross further stated how the School Board continues to track bills throughout the General Assembly through VSBA provided updates.

Ms. Tyree spoke on her first experience attending the lobbying session and being visible for Cumberland.

“I wanted to get to learn about how everything works,” she said. “So I didn't have a lot of input but I was visible. I was there. They did see me and I think that means a lot.”

Ms. Sanderson explained how she recently attended a session of the House sub-committee for education with Chip Jones, assistant superintendent of finance and operations.

“I think all of us, as Board members, are feeling very compelled to support and advocate for all students and particularly students in our county,” she said. “I don't know in my time in education that I've ever seen it as critical for us to speak up.”

School Board member George Reid also addressed the proposed “Kings Dominion Law” and how Cumberland has in past school years received waivers to open school before Labor Day.

2012-2013 Proposed Calendar

Elizabeth Jamerson, Cumberland's supervisor of human resources, presented the calendar committee's proposed school calendar for input and as a first read item.

The calendar is based on a nine-week grading period, which will be up for approval by the School Board in March.

Highlights in the calendar include ten teacher in-service/workdays and the first day of school for students would be on August 8. The first semester would end on December 18 and the last day for students is May 17, according to Ms. Jamerson. The calendar is up for adoption at the March meeting.

Student-Based Learning

Cumberland Middle School Principal Mark Mabey presented information to the School Board related to the professional development day spent after returning from winter break. The Middle School and High School teachers attended a joint workshop on project-based learning provided by the Southern Regional Education Board, which was granted through funds in the High School That Work and Making Middle Grades Work grant.

The project-based learning workshop, according to Mabey, provided instruction to teachers on how to successfully incorporate project-based learning into the classroom.

At the Elementary School, the professional development day was spent participating in a reading in-service intended to provide research-based strategies for improving student reading comprehension and fluency.

Black History Month

In recognition of February being Black History Month, Chelsea Deane read a poem by Maya Angelou and received a certificate for her presentation before the School Board. She received a standing ovation from those in the audience for her reading.


Charlie Motter, from the Middle School, highlighted the uses of the PD360 Observation Tool to the Board. The PD360 tool is an on-demand, web-based professional development resource to teachers and administrators. The program provides professional development in areas such as classroom management, instruction, learning strategies, and assessment.

Motter utilized the PD360 “app” while giving his presentation to the Board to show how the tool is used in Cumberland as an observation method to allow administrators to give feedback to teachers on their instruction.

JROTC 4th Brigade

The School Board recognized the competition participants from Cumberland's JROTC 4th Brigade Best of the Best Marksmanship Competition.

The marksmanship team consists of Alex Bapties, John Ryan Bapties, Chris Green, Jonathan Hawk, Danielle Leonard, and Kirsha Purkey.

Major Peter Amico said, “The winning-est team you've probably never heard of. These five individuals are nationally ranked. They are the eighth best team in our Brigade, which consists of 327 schools. They'll be shooting for the top spot…One of our individuals, Alex Bapties, just competed in the national competition…where he was the number one shooter in the state of Virginia and 33rd in the nation. Our team is shooting against schools that range in population from anywhere between three to four hundred to in the thousands-there is no districts. They shoot against small schools, medium schools, large schools and they're a great team and they work well together…”


*The School Board took time to recognize the three students of the month. Kindergartener Nevaeh Bennett; sixth grader Brandon Cabon; and tenth grader Ariel Hampton were honored with the student recognition for the month of February. The students each received a plaque from the Board for being selected by their principals.

*The House of Delegates Art Contest participants and the students that were selected for Honors Band were also awarded certifications of appreciation. Those that participated in the art contest were Dakoda Boyles, Carlos Campos, Marya Elasha, Chase Grubbs, Wesley Marshall, Nik Ratliff, and Victoria Stockner.

*Honors Band recognitions went to Ashlee Johnson, Todd Jones, Sean Stinnett, Ben Westerhoff, and Band Director Nicholas Keicher.

*Meet the Staff awards went to Terry Trent from the Elementary School, Susan Shuart of the Middle School, and Wanda Smith-Childress from the High School.

*Joey Dayton received the Meet the Community recognition for the month of February from the School Board. Dayton is the Assistant Park Manager at Bear Creek Lake State Park and assists with the 4-H Cayuse Riders in Cumberland.

*The School Board also received recognition in honor of School Board Appreciation Month from the Virginia School Board Association and the Governor. The Clerk of the School Board, Elizabeth Jamerson, and new Deputy Clerk, Chip Jones, also received recognition in honor of School Board Clerk Appreciation Week.

*Rebecca George Beasley, Cumberland Elementary School teacher, was recognized for her National Board Certification. This distinction is awarded to teachers who go through the rigorous evaluation process to demonstrate their ability to equip students with the skills to succeed in the 21st Century global community. Only about three percent of the nation's teaching force has achieved National Board Certification.