Woodson Complex Wins VSBA People's Choice Awards

Published 5:15 pm Tuesday, April 30, 2013

BUCKINGHAM – Superintendent Cecil Snead started his report during the April school board meeting by announcing that the May 8 meeting will begin with the annual student recognition program at 1 p.m. in the auditorium of Buckingham County High School.

His opening remarks also included information about the school board hosting the Virginia School Boards Association Regional Forum on March 18 at the Carter G. Woodson Education Complex.

During that event, Buckingham students were involved as greeters and tour guides, preparing and serving the dinner, creating the centerpieces for the tables, providing music during the reception, and participating in the art exhibit, stated Snead. He added that teachers and other volunteers were a driving force behind those endeavors.

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“We are going to acknowledge and honor those participants at our next meeting,” offered the superintendent.

Snead shared that the forum included the presentation of the prestigious VSBA 2012 People's Choice Award to the Buckingham County School Board and VMDO Architects for the architectural design of Buckingham Primary and Elementary schools at the Carter G. Woodson Education Complex.

Snead expressed his congratulations and appreciation to the school board, Chip Davis, facilities director, and VMDO for their achievement.

Audit Report

During his report, Superintendent Snead provided an overview of the school division's component of the county's 2012 audit.

Although recommendations were made for improvements, Snead explained they focused on mostly routine procedures such as reviewing capital assets and depreciation schedules on a regular basis.

Noting they were already working on formal policies and procedures documenting accounting functions, Snead shared that when he and Sandy Wier, financial officer, came on board, they agreed that was something they both wanted.

“So we feel really good that we are on track in doing this,” offered Snead, “And basically following to the letter our employee handbook.”

He said they were also paying particular attention to the suspension and disbarment requirements when requesting bids.

“All in all, it is a good audit and I am proud of the fact that we were able to recognize, coming on board, these things that were confirmed by the auditor,” concluded Snead.

Policy Changes Approved

Directing school board members to a list of policy updates presented last month for their review, Snead explained most of the changes involved updates, corrections, changes in cross-referencing, and similar revisions. He added that there were no major philosophical changes.

Subsequently, the board unanimously approved the policy updates as presented.

2013-14 Perkins Plan

The board unanimously approved the proposed 2013-14 Perkins Plan as prepared by Kyle Bryan, Principal of the Career and Technical Education Center.

Prior to the approval, Dr. Snead provided a brief overview of the plan. He began by noting that because the plan involves federal funding, Bryan included the recommended four to five percent reductions to accommodate Sequestration.

Snead said that the plan calls for replacing the technology lab at the middle school and providing support for industry certification tests. Subsequently, the board unanimously approved the plan.

Buckingham Preschool

Thelma Llewellyn, director of student services, provided a presentation on Buckingham Preschool, which opened in the fall of 2012 in the building that formerly housed Buckingham Primary School.

She began by explaining the program is based on the Virginia Foundation Blocks of Early Learning belief that early education is imperative to the future academic success and the growth of children's intellectual development.

According to Llewellyn, the program hinges on parental involvement and the involvement of other students in the school system.

She explained that each summer the Pre-K teachers visit the homes of their students before the school year begins. Once school begins, monthly meetings with the parents are conducted as well as opportunities for parental visits through-out the school year.

Noting her most recent visit to the school, Llewellyn shared that members of the CTE carpentry class were working with the preschool students as they painted birdhouses made by the carpentry class.

Along with the six classrooms for 108 students enrolled in the Pre-K program, the school also accommodates eight students in two preschool special education classrooms.

“Each classroom has a teacher and an aide,” shared Llewellyn. “Mrs. Craft is our lead teacher and our reading specialist.”

Staff also includes a secretary, cafeteria manager and one other cafeteria employee. “We serve breakfast and lunch to these students as well as to the Head Start students,” she continued, adding that the school nurse is at the school once a week.

Llewellyn explained that the two Head Start classes are not part of the division's Pre-K program but are housed at the facility through an agreement with Head Start.

Providing an overview of the curriculum, Llewellyn said it incorporates the Houghton Mifflin and SRA reading series and includes literacy, math, science, history and holidays, physical and motor development, and personal and social development. She shared numerous slides on the various activity and learning centers, special activities, field trips, and programs held at the school thus far this school year.

According to Llewellyn, registration for the 2013-14 school year was held on March 1 and 8, with 108 registering. “We are still receiving applications,” she offered.

“Right now we have an additional five on the waiting list. We are going to let people know by sometime in June who is going to be on the waiting list and who is going to get in,” she stated.

Noting that there were about 28 on the waiting list for the 2012-13 school year, Llewellyn advised that all but six were able to be included in the program.

Llewellyn shared that the committee recently met to assess the criteria. “We look at income, the parents' education, the child's development, health, home situations, and extenuating circumstances,” she offered.

Following the presentation, Dr. Snead, reiterating the importance of early childhood education, shared, “This is a great up-front investment that we have in Buckingham.”

Assessing School Security

Honeywell representatives Joyce Coleman and Ron Faw were on hand to discuss security recommendations.

Prior to Faw's presentation, Superintendent Snead shared that the staff, since last summer, has been working to assess security at each of the schools. He added that the board of supervisors also recently supported the endeavor with an additional $200,000 in funding.

“So tonight, we thought it would be good to have our representatives from Honeywell show us exactly what a security integrated system could do for us,” explained Snead.

Faw shared that he has worked in security for 35 years and is board certified as a security professional.

Offering that Chip Davis, facilities director, asked him to look at some specific areas, Faw provided an overview of the needs of those areas as well as recommendations to make them more secure for students, faculty, staff and visitors.

Faw continued, “So then we look at these things and say now let's develop that plan and process that strategy.” He offered, “Our job at this point is to come back with a turnkey solution,” which he added included training.

Before concluding his presentation, Faw emphasized the importance of ensuring that policy and technology work together.

Dr. Snead advised the board that in January, following the tragedy in Connecticut, the Virginia State Police along with Deputy Ewers, school resource officer, went through all the buildings and properties to assess the division's vulnerabilities. He noted that the assessments do align.

Agreeing with Snead on the similarities, Davis explained that the survey process by Honeywell began during the summer after witnessing the new security systems at the renovated schools on Route 20. He said it became “very evident at that time” of the need to implement similar security at the other facilities.

When Chairman Ed Wise suggested having Honeywell's plan reviewed by the Virginia State Police, Snead added that the security/safety committee, which includes the VSP, Sheriff's Office, and a school board representative, should also review it.

Snead shared, “The good thing is we have 100 percent cooperation from all parties.”

Subsequently, David Christian suggested that before a true review by the State Police, they should make sure that the security policies and plans “are up to par.”

Snead agreed and stressed the importance of including “management by walking around.” He explained, “I certainly do not expect to have a class change of 600 students and not have adults out there in the halls.”

Vice Chair Sherry Ragland added that the plans must also include training for current employees as well as incoming employees.

Public Comment

During the public comment segment, BCHS student Carter Allen addressed the board as a member of the dual enrollment government class.

He explained that the class requested permission to participate in a field trip to Washington D. C. where they had hoped to tour the Supreme Court.

According to Allen, the request was denied because the destination was over 100 miles. However, he pointed-out that the Student Council Association was going to a conference in Williamsburg, which he said is 126 miles, and the FBLA is going 150 miles to Reston.

The young man explained, “Both of those are club oriented rather than actually covering SOLs. Our field trip covers SOLs.”

Allen, noting the validity of the trip in conjunction with the SOLs, told the board that he was asking for a reconsideration of their request.

Responding to questions from the school board, Allen said there are ten students in the class but they were including some other seniors to cut the per-student cost for transportation.

Chairman Wise told the student, “We appreciate you bringing this to our attention.” In turn, the young man thanked the board for allowing him to comment.

Personnel Agenda Approved

Following a closed session, the board approved its personnel agenda as presented. Included were the retirements of Larry Morris, physical education teacher at BCHS; and, Ben Lang, maintenance; and the resignation of Lauren Saeler, kindergarten teacher at Buckingham Primary, all effective June 30.

Other action taken after the closed session was approval of the vendor response recommendation for the 2013-2014 copier contract.

The board also unanimously supported the expulsion of two students.

Gold Hill School

After its closed session and before adjourning, the board, with a motion by David Christian and a second by Kathy Midkiff, unanimously approved relinquishing Gold Hill Elementary School to Buckingham County. In June 2012, the school was closed for budgetary reasons.

In Other School Board Action

After an explanation by the superintendent regarding bids received on four mobile units at Dillwyn Primary School, the board approved awarding the bids as recommended by staff.

The board approved its consent agenda as presented. Included were minutes from the March meeting, the monthly enrollment report, and building/grounds requests.

Although the board approved the 2013-14 school calendar last month, which has schools opening to students on August 20, Dr. Snead explained the necessity of formally approving the division's pre-Labor Day request. In turn, the board unanimously approved the request.