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Traffic Problems Addressed

BUCKINGHAM – When the Buckingham County School Board reconvened its August 8 meeting last Tuesday to review financial proposals for financing energy conservation measures at specified schools in the division, Vice Chair Sherry Ragland asked for an update on traffic flow problems at the new Carter G. Woodson Education Complex.

Requesting the update, she offered, “I am hearing that everyday it gets a little better.”

Chip Davis, facilities director, replied, “It is.” He shared that they are constantly refining their efforts with the help of input from a lot of people and the staff at both Buckingham Primary and Buckingham Elementary schools.

Davis reported that they are currently using the teacher parking area at the primary school to help accommodate four lanes of traffic for parents, with one of those lanes designated for parents transporting students with special needs.

Referencing the traffic on the day of the meeting, he shared that the afternoon traffic, which has been the most problematic, flowed very well. Davis added that the law enforcement officers who have been helping with the traffic were unavailable due to an accident in another area of the county. “So we had to do it on our own and everything went fine,” he stated.

Davis added that the maintenance staff was on hand to help direct vehicles into the correct lane. Additionally, he said the staff from the schools directed and helped the students onto the buses.

Ronnie Palmore, transportation director, shared, “The first couple of days it was quite a chore. It was really tough.”

According to Palmore, Principals Pennie Allen and Cindy O'Brien have joined forces with the help of their staffs to assist children riding the buses while the maintenance staff is working with the parents transporting their children. “It has definitely been a joint effort,” he stated.

Offering that they were working “to make it better,” Palmore shared, “It's quite a big change when you have that many little kids getting on school buses.”

He added, “We did receive some criticism about it at first but it is getting better everyday.”

Ragland shared that many parents were really impressed to see the principals, the staff, and Dr. Cecil Snead, the new superintendent, teaming together to work through the problems.

She added, “I am still concerned about this situation.” However, she said she was hopeful that the problems would be solved once construction at the complex is completed.

School board member Kathy Midkiff expressed concern that teachers and staff at the primary school were unable to park at their building.

Davis said he has talked with the architects about developing more parking. He added that he and Palmore have come up with some ideas but are waiting to see what suggestions the architects have.

He shared he thought they have some ideas that would be low impact as far as the appearance of the complex but would help with the transportation/parking situation for the buses, parents, and staff.

Ragland reminded her fellow board members that when the plans were first presented, she expressed concern about the parking and traffic considering the magnitude of people and families that would be coming to the facility.

Pennie Allen, principal of Buckingham Primary School, expressed her appreciation to Cindy O'Brien, principal of Buckingham Elementary School.

Noting that O'Brien, the former principal of Buckingham Middle School, has worked at a larger facility, Allen stated, “Cindy has really helped me a lot with the organization.”

Continuing, Allen also expressed her appreciation to Dr. Snead and the central office staff as well as the transportation and maintenance staff. “They have been there everyday right beside us coming up with ideas and solving problems,” she said.

Sharing some of the innovative ways her staff has dealt with the transitional problems, Allen stated, “I am just so proud of the way they have come together.” She praised the teamwork of the staff and their commitment to solving problems.

She noted that they were encouraging parents not to arrive earlier than the prescribed pick-up time. The principal added that if a parent needed to pick-up their child prior to the end of the school day, they should park at the far end of the building and walk-in to get their child.

She reiterated, “I really appreciate all the support.”

Chairman Ed Wise questioned, “I am curious about the facility inside, how is that working?”

Ms. Allen responded that lunch was going well but they were still working on breakfast.

She explained that because the seating is more restaurant-style rather than the usual school cafeteria-style, it did appear to lend to dawdling. “But, we don't want to rush them. We want them to feel comfortable,” she shared, adding that once the children become more acclimated, things should go more smoothly.

Principal O'Brien reported that the older students are more accustomed to the routine and although 225 students had breakfast that morning, they were all out by 8:30 a.m. However, she added that they were working to get them back to the classrooms by 8:15.

Describing some of the “wonderful spaces” offered at the new facility, Principal Allen expressed her appreciation for the complex.

Superintendent Snead offered, “I want to commend the staff and administration at the schools for being so quickly able to identify problems, address them, and work together to problem solve.”

He added, “The evolution of what went on Thursday to where we are today is phenomenal. And, all that has been done while maintaining the safety of the kids.” He shared, “I am real proud of the problem-solving. Truly, it has been tremendous.”

Superintendent's Report

Dr. Snead, directing the board to the student activity funds audit for the year ending June 2012, offered, “I would like to report that there were no major findings.”

However, he added there are some minor matters that would be shored-up during the principals' meetings.

“But I am happy to report that there were no major findings and that we got a clean audit as far as the report goes,” continued Snead. “We are very proud of that.”

The superintendent also directed the board to an update for the 2012-13 budget. He explained that some of the revisions reflect changes in personnel.

“We are constantly reviewing and looking at our 2012-13 budget,” advised Snead, noting that the staff is compiling the annual school report and balancing the books for FY12.

He added that they are also in constant review of the division's ADM, average daily membership.

The superintendent explained that the state has budgeted its funding on an ADM of 1,906.75. However, the division's budget is based on an ADM of 1,921.82.

“Currently, as of the first three days, we have 1,970 ADM,” said Snead. “So the ADM is moving in the right direction.”

In an ensuing discussion on the ADM, Acie Allen asked if the additional students were spread-out across the system.

Snead replied that they were and at this time, there were no reports of overcrowding. However, he said they might get a few more students after Labor Day. “Traditionally, we do,” offered the superintendent.

Financing Awarded

Following a lengthy closed session that included discussion of the award of public contract, personnel, and student discipline, the board accepted a proposal from the Banc of America for financing the school division's energy conservation measures through a lease/purchase contract with Honeywell.

Along with accepting the Banc of America proposal, the board authorized Dr. Snead to take the necessary steps to complete the financial transaction.

In Other Board Action

The board approved its consent agenda as presented. That approval included the addition of Sam's Club and Southern States to the FY13 Agent of Record List.

After its closed session, the board accepted the resignation of Nicole Miller, an assistant principal at Buckingham High School. Miller has accepted the position of principal at an elementary school in another state.

The board also approved its personnel docket as presented. Appointments included Kathy Allen as special education contracted aide at BCHS; and, Ryan Peede as coach for the BCHS Scholastic Team.