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Cumberland Partners With YMCA

CUMBERLAND – The Southside Virginia Family YMCA and the Cumberland County Public Schools division have partnered to provide swimming lessons to second grade students during the upcoming school year, according to information provided during last week's School Board meeting.

According to Chip Jones, assistant superintendent of finance and operations, after several meetings between the YMCA and the school's Central Office the partnership for the 2012-2013 school year is secured.

So far, he told the School Board on Monday, June 10, the tentative dates for the swimming program are February 18 through March 29, which will be the six weeks prior to the school division's scheduled spring break.

Also, according to Superintendent Dr. Amy Griffin, each second grade class will go one day a week for approximately 30 to 45 minutes for swimming instruction at the YMCA.

Jones also noted that the Elementary School is currently working to complete paperwork so that waivers and forms will be available for second grade parents and guardians to fill out at the beginning of the school year in August when the students come back after the summer break.

“We chose the six-week span prior to Spring Break because, you never know, family could be traveling for break and it's always good to get the kids motivated to get in the water…,” said Jones.

In other YMCA news, the school has also been working with Cumberland's Department of Economic and Community Development and with the YMCA related to possible after-school daycare possibilities in Cumberland on the elementary school's campus. Although details are just in the beginning stages, Jones explained, he said he'd keep the School Board up-to-date with that information as it is made available.

Epinephrine Pins

Policy JHCD, a new school policy passed down from the General Assembly, according to Dr. Griffin, requires schools to have epi pins in every school.

“The Virginia Department of Education is currently working to come out with guidelines for us to go by,” she offered the School Board. “But the procedures would have to include how many EpiPins, if we get EpiPins, are going to be in each school, who is going to be trained to administer them, how are we going to replace them because they go out of date if you don't use them?”

The school system, Dr. Griffin said, must have a prescription from a doctor in order to even obtain the pins.

“We're going to have to work with a local physician in getting a prescription for that,” she said. “So there are some things we're trying to work out and get guidance from the Department of Education.”

The passed law allows schools to keep and administer a prescription for epinephrine that isn't student specific in case of an allergic emergency.

In other policy news, Dr. Griffin introduced a whole host of new policies or additions to old policies as first read items to the School Board. The policies are currently being reviewed and will be up for final approval in July.

School Board Goals

During a summer work session the School Board worked to develop goals for Cumberland County Public Schools for the upcoming school year. Those goals were made public during the June School Board meeting.

The goals for the upcoming school year will be:

Cumberland County Public Schools will be student-centered.

Cumberland County Public Schools will expand opportunities for learning.

Cumberland County Public Schools will develop committed stakeholders who build positive relationships. Stakeholders are defined as students, faculty and staff, parents, and community members.

According to School Board Chair Ginger Sanderson, these new school goals will be the driving force that will continue to move the school division “forward” and also serve as a framework for the development of the Comprehensive Plan.

VRS Contribution Resolution

The School Board also adopted resolutions, which essentially approve the 2012-2013 school year member VRS contribution rate of current employees at five percent.

According to Jones, the school division opted to pay it all now instead of pay it later, he said.

The contribution rate must also be signed by the Cumberland Board of Supervisors so included in the package was also a resolution authorizing the superintendent to petition the Board of Supervisors to approve the VRS Board-certified rate contribution resolution.

“The three resolutions you had in your board packet-the first one talked about the member rate that the employees have to pay towards their VRS,” noted Jones. “We have opted to go with the five percent. The employees will be paying the five percent, which we budgeted for.”

The second resolution, according to Jones, deals with the non-professional group (bus drivers, custodians, mechanics, and food service employees).

“We went with the certified rate rather than going with the alternate rate,” he said. “…To sum it up, it's kind of pay now or pay later and we chose to pay now.”

Because the administration decided to go with the certified rate, a resolution also had to be signed and approved by Cumberland's Board of Supervisors.

School Business

In school business, the School Board approved variances for students T3, T4, and T5 once in open session during Monday evening's meeting and also approved the final payment of bills for the 2011-2012 school operating budget.

Sanderson will review and approve final bills and payroll so warrants can be issued in a timely fashion and, then, a full report will be available for the School Board's review during July's meeting.

The board also adopted a VPSA Resolution for technology funds. The School Board is required to adopt the resolution to use local funds to pay for technology hardware if the school plans to seek reimbursement from the Virginia Public School Authority for those items within 60 days of the first purchase.

By the Board adopting the resolution now, it will allow the administration to purchase and begin installation of all reimbursable equipment before school starts back in August.

First Helping Hand Recognition

Cumberland's School Board recognized its first “Helping Hand” recipient this month. Linda Eanes, Cumberland's 4-H Extension Agent, was the first to receive the School Board's new Helping Hand recognition.

Eanes has been employed as the 4-H Extension Agent since 2002 and also serves as the Unit Coordinator for the 4-H Youth Development and designs activities for students involved in Cumberland's 4-H program.

These activities include Short Chefs, after-school programs, and special interest clubs such as the Cayuse Riders: 4-H Horse Club and the 4-H Shooting Team.

Eanes offers a variety of activities to middle school students, including camping trips, archery classes, and leather crafting. She places emphasis on life skills and experiential learning, and has students doing everything from baking biscuits to pitching a tent.

Outside of the school system, Eanes is also involved in the community as well. She serves as a Parent Advocate for Family Assessment and Planning Treatment Team, Recycling Taskforce, provides services to Bear Creek Academy, and is a member of the Central Piedmont Chapter of the Master Naturalists where she has served as the chairman of the membership and historian committee.

The School Board recognized Eanes for her volunteer hours spent within the school system by giving her a certificate of appreciation and was honored as the system's first Helping Hand recipient.

Partnership's Award

Cumberland County Public Schools were awarded the Innovative Strategy for Family & School Partnership's Award earlier this year by Governor McDonnell and Secretary of the Commonwealth, Janet Vestal Polarck. Cumberland received the award, according to Elizabeth Jamerson, supervisor of human resources, for creating innovative strategies to build family and school partnerships and the school division's continuous community outreach.

Food For Thought

Cumberland County Public Schools were also awarded an Honorable Mention certificate in the Virginia School Board Association Food For Thought competition in recognition for the work the school division does to provide meal access to all students.

William Brandt, food service coordinator for the division, was present during the School Board meeting to accept the certificate from the VSBA Food For Thought competition.

High Schools That Work

The High Schools That Work Award of Educational Achievement was awarded to 15 seniors during the June School Board meeting. In order to earn the award, students must complete a college-preparatory course of study in at least two of three-subject areas; complete a concentration in a career and technical area; and meet the readiness goal in all three-subject areas on the High Schools That Work assessment.

The awards were presented to Michael Albrecht, Taylor Arbaugh, Christopher Deane, Bobby Hatcher, Casey Henry, Rebecca Jamerson, Alyssa Merkle, Cassidy Phillips, Lacreesha Reed, Kelly Shumaker, Malcolm Sims, Christopher Thompson, Jasmyn Toney, Kelsey Tucker, and Samuel Woodfin.

School Board Comments

Dr. Christine Ross thanked the community for its support in the midst of budget crunches while recognizing Ms. Eanes for her volunteer work in the schools.

“It's exciting to hear that we are now starting to partner with the YMCA to see what they can offer the students…,” she said.

Ms. Sanderson detailed the School Board's recent workshop.

“I don't think I've ever been prouder and that was to see the school system's administration come together to talk about the successes and openly talk about things that didn't quite go so well,” she offered about the information provided during the workshop.

Ms. Sanderson noted that the information provided also assisted the Board with being able to “hone” in on the goals for the upcoming school year.