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School Calendar Options Reviewed

BUCKINGHAM – During its April 18 meeting, the Buckingham County School Board reviewed three calendar options for the 2012-13 school year.

Prior to the board's discussion on the three calendars, which were presented to school employees in a survey, Superintendent Gary Blair explained that he was not asking for action until next month.

Donna Matthews, director of academic services, reported that Calendar 1 drew the most support. She said the option, which is similar to the current calendar, drew 214 votes.

According to Matthews, teachers would report on Monday, August 13, and schools would begin on Thursday, August 23. Winter break would begin on December 19 and students would return on January 3. Spring break would be the week after East-er; and, June 6 would be the last day of school.

With Calendar 2, which garnered 130 votes, teachers would report on August 22, and schools would begin September 4. Winter break would start on December 19, with students returning on January 3. Spring break would be the week after Easter; and, the last day of school would be on June 17.

Matthews explained that the third option offers a 160-day calendar, which was proposed for budgetary reasons.

With this option, teachers would return on August 13, and students on August 23. The first 80-day semester would end at the start of winter break, which would begin on December 20.

Students would return to school on January 4. Spring break would fall the week before Easter and the last day of school would be May 8.

With the 160-day option, the school day would be an hour longer, with an 8:10 a.m. starting time and dismissal at 4:05, said Matthews.

Sharing that comments on the 160-day calendar demonstrated concern for support staff employees who would experience a reduction in salary, Matthews said the shorter school year would not affect teacher contracts.

She added that such a drastic change in the school calendar might not be needed with a balanced budget.

Chairman Acie Allen expressed concern about the long day the 160-day calendar would require for pre-K through fifth grad-ers. However, Matthews pointed-out that many of the students already attend after school programs that run until 5:30 p.m.

As the discussion continued, David Christian asked about the feasibility of coming up with a 180-day calendar that would allow students to finish the semester before winter break, thus allowing students to begin a new semester when they return in January.

Sharing that each year members of the calendar committee, which includes employees from all sectors of school personnel, express interest in such a calendar, Matthews said it would necessitate students starting school earlier in August.

She said school divisions that begin earlier have shared that the first year of such a transition is usually difficult for students, parents, and staff but after that first year most like it.

Conversely, Matthews explained that for this coming school year, the move to the renovated schools on Route 20 would make an earlier starting date more difficult. She explained that the buildings would not be ready for the move-in until July.

Allen asked whether the proposed calendars coincide with the calendar for Governor's School, especially spring break.

Matthews responded, “In essence, it is almost impossible.” She added, “What they do is they make a calendar that works for us.”

Allen encouraged the board to review the calendar options, discuss them with their constituents, and be prepared for a vote at the May meeting.

Summer School Calendar

The July move to the schools on Route 20 will also affect the summer school schedule, explained Matthews.

She proposed that rather than the usual four-day week, they would have a five-day week. Moreover, the school day would be longer, beginning at 8 a.m. and ending at 3:15 p.m.

She recommended that to accommodate the July move, summer school would also start earlier, with classes beginning on June 18 and running through July 3.

Subsequently, the board unanimously approved the proposed summer school schedule as presented.

FY 11 County Audit

Beginning his report to the board, Superintendent Gary Blair provided a quick overview of findings from the county's FY 11 audit.

Referencing page 83 of the audit, Dr. Blair read, “In our opinion, County of Buckingham, Virginia complied, in all material respects, with the requirements referred to above that could have a direct and material effect on each of its major federal pro-grams for the year ended June 30, 2011.” Continuing, Blair shared that on page 84, the report stated, “We did not identify any deficiencies in internal control over compliance that we consider to be material weaknesses, as defined above.”

Moreover, the audit, explained Blair, reported that “corrective action was taken and this was not found to be an issue during the FY 11 audit,” on several issues cited in the FY 10 audit involving suspension and disbarment, tracking of ARRA funds, and the recording of Title I and Title I ARRA funds.

Blair offered, “We are very proud of that.” He added that Paul Imig, the school division's financial consultant, and Sandra Wier, finance manager, would be providing the board with a detailed listing of recommended improvements.

Policy Revisions

The board unanimously approved a long list of policy revisions.

Referencing the revisions, which were presented during the February and March meetings, Blair offered that most of them represent changes recommended by the Virginia School Boards Association.

The superintendent said there were three policies that would require enacting division-specific regulations. Those included GCBD, Staff Leave and Absences; GCQB, Staff Research and Publishing; and IICA, Field Trips.

Off Campus Project

In a unanimous vote, the board approved a request that will allow students from the Carpentry 2 and 3 classes to give the Buckingham Public Library a facelift.

Brandon Savage, carpentry teacher at the Buckingham Career and Technical Center, sought the board's approval for his stu-dents to do another off-campus project.

This one responds to a request by the Buckingham Library Board for help in giving the building's exterior a coat of paint.

In his letter, Savage said the job should take about two weeks, with the students leaving school at 8:30 a.m. and returning at 11:15 each school day until the work is completed.

“The different type of jobs that we are doing this year is providing excellent job training for the future backbone of this economy,” wrote Savage. “I am so proud to have the students represent my department, this school and the future of our Ameri-can Workforce.”

Before the vote, David Christian asked whether the school division is bonded for such work.

Blair responded, “We have liability coverage through the VSBA.”

Personnel

Following a closed session, the board, with a six-to-one vote, approved the personnel agenda as presented, with Kathy Mid-kiff opposing.

The agenda included the retirements of Ann Thomas, a fifth grade teacher at Gold Hill, and Doris Lee, a second grade teach-er at Dillwyn Primary; Linda Braxton, an aide at BCHS; Doris Glover, a bus driver and office aide; and Bernard Brown, car driver.

Resignations included Missy Shores, BCHS activities director; and Rachael Santaniello, assistant coach for girls track.

Joanne Kimble was appointed assistant coach for girls track.

In Other Board Action

Concurring with the superintendent's recommendation, the board approved the annual special education plan as presented by Thelma Llewellyn, director of student services.

She advised, “We wrote it based on the assumption that we will have level funding from the state for special education.” She added that the money would go toward personnel.

The board also approved the career and technical education plan. Prior to the vote, Kyle Bryan, principal of the career and technical education center, explained that the plan was similar to the one for this year.

In another unanimous vote, the board concurred with Blair's recommendation and gave its approval to apply for 21st Century Community Learning Center Grants for Buckingham County High School, Buckingham County Middle School, and the lower and upper elementary schools at the Carter G. Woodson Complex.

At the conclusion of business, Chairman Allen recessed the meeting until 9 a.m. on Friday, May 4, at the bus garage.

After opening the meeting, the board will go into a closed session to discuss personnel. At approximately 10 a.m., the board will return to open session to meet with representatives from the Virginia School Boards Association regarding the search for a new superintendent.