'For Bravery And Heroism'

Published 5:09 pm Thursday, April 4, 2013

BUCKINGHAM – The March meeting of the Buckingham County School Board began with Ronnie Palmore, transportation director, recognizing the students who demonstrated bravery and heroism during the February 26 bus accident on Route 698, Mountain View Road.

Palmore shared, “When I arrived at the scene I was amazed how the driver had all the students off the bus in a group and how calm they were.” He added, “I didn't see the first student upset or shedding a tear.”

Palmore explained that due to the students demonstrating such bravery and calmness he wanted to recognize them with a Certificate of Bravery from the Buckingham County School Board.

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Calling the names of the younger students who were on the bus when it overturned on that cold and rainy afternoon, Palmore presented the certificates to those in attendance.

“After speaking with the driver, she informed me how the older students had responded to help evacuate the younger students from the bus,” stated Palmore. “These students showed leadership and responsibility and I would like to present each of them a Certificate of Heroism from the Buckingham County School Board.”

Three secondary school students, Brian and Travis Harmon, and Dannyell Moore received certificates for their “true heroic actions.”

Palmore also expressed his sincere appreciation to the Virginia State Police, Buckingham County Sheriff's Office, Buckingham County Rescue Squad and Fire Departments, local citizens, the parents of the children, and his staff.

He thanked the bus driver for nurturing the students until help could arrive. “In addition, I would like to thank Brandon Savage for the use of his home. All the students were taken to his home to get them out of the rain and to make calls and receive medical treatment,” stated Palmore.

Superintendent Cecil Snead shared, “That evening is an evening none of us will forget. It is indelibly ingrained in our minds.”

Noting that Palmore had recognized and thanked all those who helped at the scene, Dr. Snead stated, “Now we need to take the time to recognize him.”

The superintendent offered, “I can't say enough about Mr. Palmore. He guided that evening toward success by coordinating all efforts.”

In response, the audience shared a most enthusiastic applause.

“And, I can't say enough about this community,” added Snead as he thanked the parents, students, Savage, and all the law enforcement and emergency workers that responded that evening. “We appreciate all the efforts,” he concluded.

Thanking the parents and students for attending the meeting, Chairman Ed Wise expressed his appreciation for “the immense cooperation” everyone demonstrated throughout the ordeal.”

Adding his gratitude, Thomas Hutcherson offered. “Parents, I know you are proud. I, too, am so proud of our children.”

Addressing the older students for going “beyond the call of duty,” Hutcherson stated, “Thank you for all that you've done.”

He added, “Mr. Palmore, man, you are something else.” The audience demonstrated their agreement with more applause.

Also offering her accolades to the students, from the youngest four-year-old to those in high school, the bus driver stated, “I can't say enough about these kids.”

Describing the accident scene, she said Brian was standing over a drop-off as he worked to get the younger children out of the back of the bus while Travis and Dannyell kept the children together.

Thanking Palmore and the school board for recognizing all the children, she stated, “Thank you for what you did because they are fabulous kids,” she stated.

Overview of FY14 Budget

Superintendent Snead, with assistance from Sandy Wier, financial officer, offered an overview of the FY14 budget proposal.

Describing the budget as the story of how they can do business to serve their public better, Snead said there are so many variables and constraints that get in the way of telling the story.

He began by explaining that the budget is based on an ADM, average daily membership, of 1975 students.

Addressing what Sequestration would mean to the board, Snead said that when talking with Kent Dickey, Deputy Superintendent for Finance with the Virginia Department of Education, he said awards already received for FY13 are safe.

“What we are doing is planning for next year,” explained Snead. He said Dickey advised it would be prudent to prepare for a five percent reduction for new federally funded awards. According to Snead, that would mean IDEA, Title I, and Perkins funding.

Reminding that on February 26, the board of supervisors approved the purchase of four buses with its year-end FY13 money, Snead said that was good news for the FY14 budget.

He explained that the $22.5 million budget proposal includes the board's priorities of not cutting any positions and wanting to give a two percent raise for all contracted employees along with a step increase.

Additionally, Snead said the proposed budget includes a $200,000 security upgrade and funding for a three percent VRS increase. He reminded that on Monday, April 15, at 7 p.m., the board of supervisors would conduct a public hearing on the proposed county budget.

In related FY14 budget action, Snead advised that they had received information that health care costs with Coventry Health Care of Virginia, Incorporated would remain as they currently are. Subsequently, the school board did not hesitate to approve renewing the contract with Coventry.

ProStart Competition

Chef Sandra Hawk, instructor of Culinary Arts at Buckingham Career and Technical Education Center, shared the successes of students during the Virginia ProStart Culinary Competition.

The students, said Hawk, collectively won over $30,000 in renewable scholarships from three top hospitality colleges.

Brandy Davis, Cory Houtz, and Daniel Friend earned third place in Hospitality Management. Hawk noted, “There were three points from first to third-that's how close it was.”

Darius Nelson, Olivia Mudd, and Shawntay Moneymaker won second place in Culinary, with Olivia receiving the first perfect score of 15 ever awarded for a dessert at a Virginia ProStart Competition.

“For a school system, let alone a school team, to come away with two out of six places in the state, think about it,” offered Dr. Snead, reminding that Hawk was recently honored as Virginia's ProStart Teacher of the Year.

JROTC Raider Competition

SFC Bruce Grazier, U.S. Army (Ret), one of the instructors for the BCHS JROTC program, introduced a group of cadets who serve as leaders for the Knight's Raider Team.

According to Grazier, as members of the Raider Team, which he defined as the physical fitness team for the JROTC, the students develop leadership, esprit de corps, teamwork, and a high level of physical fitness.

Grazier said there are 27 members, numerically divided into three teams-two mixed teams, which must include at least one female cadet, and an all female team.

The team has completed three Raider meets this year and has one more scheduled.

Grazier shared that the Knight Raiders recently competed at Manchester High School in the Best of the Best Raider Competition. “They beat two of the top Raider teams in Virginia,” prided the instructor. He added that in the rope bridge event, the team excelled over 29 other Virginia teams.

During competition, the cadets endure the Army Physical Fitness Test, which includes two minutes of pushups, sit-ups, and the one-mile run; a litter carry with a simulated casualty through an obstacle course; one-rope bridge; vehicle pull; logistics relay, which includes carrying two five-gallon water cans through a scripted course; tire flip; and the culminating 5K road march.

After Grazier's presentation about the Raider Team, the audience viewed a video about the competition produced by Cadet Ian Morris, one of the team commanders.

At the conclusion of the video, Chairman Wise congratulated the cadets and offered, “It is always a pleasure to recognize excellence.”

21st Century Grant

Pennie Allen, Principal of Buckingham County Primary School, led a presentation showcasing the 21st Century Program, which affords children in pre-K through fifth grade extended learning opportunities at the Carter G. Woodson Education Complex.

Allen began by noting that initially the program only served students at Dillwyn Primary School but now, with the new complex, it is available to 960 students.

She explained that the program, which provides remediation, enrichment and recreation, offers before school, after school, and summer sessions.

Allen said the federal grant provides approximately $200,000 a year for three years. Seventy-four percent of that funding is earmarked for staff, 15 percent for transportation, 10 percent for materials and supplies, and one percent for trips and events.

According to Allen, not only is the program staffed by teachers in the school division but it also draws instructors and volunteers from the community along with involvement from other organizations such as the Extension Service, 4-H, Buckingham Recreation Department, Crossroads, Sheriff's Office, VMDO Architects, and QuickStart Tennis.

Once a month, the program includes Fun Friday, which Allen said the students really enjoy. There's no schoolwork on Fun Friday, which also includes and promotes parental involvement.

Sharing an example of Fun Friday, Allen said they are looking forward to an upcoming production of Thumbelina by Theatre Four.

Stressing the parental involvement factor, Allen explained that parents must attend an orientation and must commit to being involved before their child can begin the program. She added that currently there is a waiting list for students to participate.

Zane Harshman, a fifth grade teacher, and Heather Page, a kindergarten teacher, provided an overview of the 2012 summer program.

Harshman said the 12-day program focused on academics and enrichment opportunities. The program also included field trips, a book fair, and an ice cream social with the parents.

2013-14 Calendar Approved

Donna Matthews, Director of Academic Services, provided an overview of the calendar committee's recommendation for the upcoming school year.

Using a chart, Matthews pointed-out that of the four versions voted on by staff, Version 3, which is similar to the current calendar, drew the most votes. However, she noted it did include Columbus Day as a holiday and added possible make-up days to the end of the school year.

Dr. Snead offered that another variable considered by the committee was a request by the Region 8 superintendents to utilize Election Day as a professional development day for teachers. He said they are hoping to bring in a keynote speaker for the region.

Subsequently, the board unanimously supported Version 3. With the approved calendar, teachers will report on August 13 and students return on August 20.

Following its adoption of the 2013-14 calendar, the board discussed the current calendar and days missed due to inclement weather. Although the division is not in jeopardy as far as meeting the required number of hours, some concerns were expressed about the loss of instruction time.

As the discussion concluded, BCHS Principal Roger Coleman said graduation for the Class of 2013 would be held on June 8.

Financial Help for SCA

Responding to a request from the SCA for financial assistance to attend the state conference in Williamsburg, Snead explained that in reviewing records, the staff found that in November, the SCA used its own funds to attend a national conference in Washington, D. C.

Noting a history of supporting certain expenses to national conferences, Snead said staff was recommending reimbursing the SCA for $630 in advisor fees and $120 in fuel cost for that conference. Subsequently, the board unanimously approved reimbursing the SCA for those expenses.

In Other School Board Action

The board approved Theresa Bryant as its representative on the building committee for the new county library.

Agreeing with a recommendation by the technology department, the board approved the recycling of used computers.

Following a closed session, the board unanimously approved contracting with SchoolMessenger for the school communications global alert system during the 2013-14 school year.

The board's approval of its personnel agenda included the retirements of Edna Carey, bus driver and cafeteria employee, and Mary Ruth Waycaster, bus driver, effective June 30.

Personnel appointments included Amina Lee, special education aide at Buckingham Primary; Tim Hoag, BCHS alternative education; Dana Hamner, office aide at Buckingham Primary; Sarah Haines, computer lab aide at Buckingham Primary; and volunteer coaches Catherin Fortmuller, tennis, and Evan Spears, soccer.

Current openings include an elementary teacher, elementary school librarian, high school English teacher; and middle school physical education teacher.