National Honors

Published 5:24 pm Tuesday, November 13, 2012

BUCKINGHAM – The October meeting of the Buckingham County School Board began with Kyle Bryan, principal of the Career and Technical Education Center, announcing that Patti Branch was named a Gold Star Teacher of the Year by the WISE program.

Bryan shared, “WISE, which stands for Working In Support of Education, is a national organization promoting financial literacy through education.” He explained that WISE is the organization behind the Financial Literacy Test, an industry certification exam for the economics and personal finance course.

The award, said Bryan, is based on Branch's classes attaining a 90 percent pass rate on the Financial Literacy Test.

Email newsletter signup

He reminded that last year Buckingham CTE Center received the Blue Star Award, which is based on the percentage of students who passed the exam.

Accreditation Status

Referencing the comprehensive report on the Standards of Learning and Annual Measurable Objectives that Donna Matthews, director of academic services, provided last month, Superintendent Cecil Snead advised that those scores, which were preliminary at the time of the report, are now official.

Reiterating that Buckingham County High School and Middle School are Fully Accredited, Snead explained that Buckingham County Primary and Elementary schools are Conditionally Accredited because they are classified as new schools.

Noting the 72 and 78 scores in math at the BCHS and BCMS, Snead offered, “Every locale has recognized a dip in the mathematics scores due to the increased rigor of these assessments.”

The superintendent shared, “We are very proud of our leadership, our teachers, and our students in all four of these schools.” He stated “And, we are looking forward to great things in 2013 as well.”

Matthews added, “I want to reemphasize, too, that the Conditionally Accredited is not the same verbiage that we used to hear with conditionally accredited.” She explained, “That is what you are as a new school and they won't give you full accreditation because you don't have the scores.”

She shared, “Looking at the preliminary data, we would have been in great shape. So we are very, very proud of all four schools. They have done a great job.”

Superintendent Snead advised that as of 12:28 p.m. that day, Buckingham received the official status on the division's Annual Measurable Objectives.

“For Buckingham County Public Schools, all federal accountability measures were met with the exception of one-and that is the graduation rate at Buckingham County High School,” stated Snead.

He offered, “I would like to say that we are improving on our graduation rate at the high school. We have goals, measures and procedures set in place to hit that mark.”

As explained during the September meeting, the Virginia Department of Education is directing 485 schools that fell short of meeting AMOs to implement improvement plans.

Snead shared, “What is interesting is that we believe that next year, because this year's graduation rate actually hit the benchmark of 80 percent, we anticipate that will not be an obstacle for us next year.”

He added, “So if we continue to do the things that we have been doing in Buckingham County, we should not have any school in improvement next year.” The superintendent concluded, “So I thought that was a piece of good news.”

Revised Meeting Schedule

During his superintendent's report, Dr. Snead noted that with the exception of the December and May meetings, which include student award presentations held at 1 p.m. in the BCHS auditorium, the majority of the school board meetings for the 2012-13 school year are scheduled for 6 p.m.

Sharing that the September meeting included a discussion on having more afternoon meetings, Snead presented a revised meeting schedule that he said would be more conducive with the weather during the winter meetings. He noted that the schedule also includes several Tuesday meetings.

Subsequently, breaking with a long-standing tradition of meeting on the second Wednesday of the month, the board, with a motion by Vice Chair Sherry Ragland and a second by Thomas Hutcherson, unanimously approved the revised meeting schedule.

According to the new schedule, the board's November meeting will be on the first Wednesday, November 7, at 6 p.m. December's meeting, which begins with student recognitions in the BCHS auditorium, is scheduled for Wednesday, December 13, at 1 p.m.

Meetings in January and February are scheduled for 2 p.m., Tuesday, January 8, and Tuesday, February 12. In March, the board will meet on Wednesday, March 13, at 6 p.m.; and, in April, the meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, April 10, at 6 p.m.

The May meeting, another meeting that begins with student recognitions in the BCHS auditorium, is set for Wednesday, May 8, at 1 p.m.

Two meetings are scheduled for June, the first on Tuesday, June 11, at 2 p.m.; and the second, to close out the fiscal year, is planned for Thursday, June 27, at 6 p.m.

School board meetings, unless otherwise noted, are held in the Window Room of the Buckingham Career and Technical Education Center.

Expressions of Appreciation

Superintendent Snead expressed his appreciation to David Christian for his services on October 8, when the pharmacist/school board member and other Rite Aid employees administered flu shots to school personnel.

In turn, Christian thanked Brian Green, director of human resources, for his efforts in organizing the event.

After expressing his gratitude to Christian, Snead offered his appreciation to the full board for their support in providing him the opportunity to attend various conferences.

Snead explained that the conferences provided expertise in instruction, finance, personnel, facilities' maintenance, and other areas.

He shared that the Virginia Association of School Superintendents conference offered three legal workshops.

According to Snead, one of the more intriguing workshops was the legal and ethical parameters concerning social media and its use by educators.

“It's no surprise that our goal in Buckingham County as we work together as administrators, as we work together as a board, is to improve communication efforts,” said Snead. “And, sometimes those communication efforts necessitate that we use social media.”

Snead continued, “If we do that, we want to do that with our eyes wide open.” He offered, “I anticipate in the future we will have requests to use social media in our buildings for instructional purposes.” Snead stated, “So, I am happy to say that we will also have some guidelines by which we can use the social media.”

According to Snead, another helpful workshop was one on the Virginia Retirement System. The superintendent explained the information focused on the standards of quality funding formula. He added that the workshop provided insight about how to prepare for the FY14 budget, and information about the proposed VRS hybrid plan.

Vice Chair Ragland, who also attended that workshop, called the information overwhelming but helpful.

Snead shared that he also recently attended a meeting of the Virginia School University Partnership, which includes superintendents from around the state. He said the focus was on legislation that would ensure they are moving in the right direction for students.

According to Snead, during that meeting, the Curry School of Education discussed the impact of school architecture on school practices and healthy eating. “And they announced the fact that there is research being done in Buckingham Elementary School in Dillwyn, Virginia, that hopefully will note that architectural practices and everyday healthy eating behaviors will eventually promote priority in student health and community health,” shared Snead.

In Other Board Action

The board approved its consent agenda as presented. However, before the vote, Acie Allen, referencing approval of bills and accounts, recommended that next year they try “a little harder” to get more bids for the annual audit of the activity funds, which are kept by each school.

Following a closed session, the board, with a six-to-one vote, approved its personnel agenda as amended. Christian cast the opposing vote.

Appointments included Catherin Fortmuller, as business teacher at the Career and Technical Education Center. She is replacing Patti Branch who is now an assistant principal at BCHS.

The action also included the appointments of Elizabeth Gentry as librarian for Buckingham Primary School; Holly Asal, BP special education aide; Brenda Gunter, BP reading aide; Lisa Coleman, BCHS special education aide; Loretta Cottrell, BCHS special education aide; and Sarah Haines, BP reading aide.

Additionally, the personnel action included transfers for Ruby Coles from fourth grade teacher at Buckingham Elementary to alternative education teacher at BCMS; and, Patricia Keller from BCMS alternative education teacher to fourth grade teacher at BE.

Following the closed session, the board also authorized the superintendent to review contract change orders and status for payments.

Make Up Days Set

According to the division's website,, make-up days have been scheduled for the two days missed, October 29 and 30, due to concerns regarding Hurricane Sandy. The make-up days are Wednesday, December 19, and Thursday, December 20.