The Next Superintendent
BUCKINGHAM – With the June 30 retirement of Superintendent Gary Blair, the Buckingham County School Board turned to the community, parents, and school division employees for input into the qualities they would like to see in the next superintendent.
To do so, the board scheduled a public hearing for May 17; and, initiated a survey that was not only accessible via the division's website but also by hard copies that could be mailed.
The deadline for submitting the survey was set for May 17, after the hearing.
Although the public hearing was held in the auditorium at Buckingham County High School to accommodate a crowd, it drew less than a dozen people and only two who went to the podium.
Both of the speakers were fathers of students in the school system.
Sharing that he has one child in the first grade at Dillwyn Primary School and a younger child who will one day attend Buckingham County Public Schools, the father stated, “Needless to say, I have a vested interest in their future and what is going to happen with the Buckingham County School System.”
The young man offered, “The choice for the next superintendent is very important not only for the future of Buckingham County but more importantly for the future of our children.”
He said elected and appointed officials must be of the highest moral character. Continuing, he stated that they must also be held accountable not only to the school board and the citizens of the county but more importantly to the children.
The next speaker shared that he has two sons, one at the high school and another at Buckingham Primary School.
Noting that his youngest son is a special needs child, the father praised Principal Joan Staton for the impeccable care, services, and education she has provided for his child.
Offering that he read in the newspaper that Staton was appointed interim superintendent, the speaker questioned whether there has been any discussion or consideration of hiring her as superintendent.
“But if you are not going to consider Mrs. Staton, you need to consider somebody like Mrs. Staton who has an open-door policy and communicates very well,” he stated.
The father shared that Staton was like the principal he had when he went to school-a principal who parents knew would protect and care for their children and always have the child's best interest at heart.
“So the qualities that I think you should look for are the qualities that Mrs. Joan Staton has exhibited to me in regards to my child,” he concluded.
When the school board met on May 9, a discussion ensued on a request by CTE Principal Kyle Bryan to continue the Southside Virginia Community College cosmetology class through the summer.
At that meeting, Bryan explained that by doing so, the adults taking the night class would be able to finish the program and enter the workforce quicker. He added that the instructor is paid by SVCC not the school division.
In his request, Bryan explained that the cosmetology room has its own HVAC system so the entire building would not have to be cooled.
However, during the discussion, David Christian questioned doing so “when money is as tight as it is.”
Sherry Ragland, offering that they had a group of adults who wanted to continue with the class this summer so they could finish it, moved to approve the request.
Conversely, Christian stated, “What we are commissioned to do is K through 12 education.” He added that he wasn't concerned about offering the course during the fall when they were already cooling and heating the building anyway.
Christian said he would like to know what the cost would be to open the room during the summer. “We are in bad times,” he added.
Subsequently, the item was tabled until the May 17 meeting so that Bryan could provide the board with an estimate of how much it would cost. The motion to table drew a four to three vote with Ragland, Midkiff and Hutcherson voting in opposition.
Thomas Hutcherson, offering that he agreed with what Christian was saying, stated, “However, a class of this nature is helping 12 people get into the workforce.” He added that they would really be helping 12 families.
During the May 17 meeting, Bryan reported that the estimated cost for using the classroom would be $190 for the eight weeks.
In turn, Sherry Ragland led with a motion to approve the summer session for the adult students enrolled in the program. With a second by Thomas Hutcherson, the motion drew the board's unanimous support.
Christian was unable to attend the meeting due to work-related obligations.
After closing the hearing, the board went into a closed session to discuss a public contract.
Upon their return, the board, in a unanimous vote, directed the superintendent to execute the memorandum of understanding with Honeywell for the energy performance contract.