School Security Upgrades

Published 4:44 pm Thursday, May 16, 2013

BUCKINGHAM – In an effort to provide updated comprehensive security for students, staff, and facilities, the Buckingham County School Board, at its May 8 meeting, unanimously approved a security proposal presented by Honeywell during the April meeting.

Using the new Carter G. Woodson Complex on Route 20 as a model, the proposal calls for upgrading the security systems at Buckingham Preschool, Middle School, High School, Career and Technical Education Center, and the Transportation and Maintenance Complex.

The terms of the contract with Honeywell call for upgrades designed to yield a fully integrated security system at a cost of $199,473.

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During that April meeting, Ron Faw, a certified security professional, provided an overview of the proposal based on his findings after assessing the facilities and the current systems.

On Wednesday, Superintendent Cecil Snead reported that responding to the board's request for the security committee to review the Honeywell proposal, Faw met with the committee, which includes representatives from the Virginia State Police and the Buckingham County Sheriff's Office.

Dr. Snead reported that during the committee's meeting, its members were able to judge the proposal based on its merits in conjunction with the recent safety audit.

The superintendent shared that a member of the committee commented that the presentation from Honeywell almost completely echoed what law enforcement officers reported in their audit.

He added that both the Virginia State Police and the Buckingham County Sheriff's Department gave the proposal their blessing.

Snead said the upgrade should be in place by August. Offering that effective security relies on people, the superintendent stressed, “So we have to stay diligent.”

Noting that security issues constantly change, David Christian said he would like to see the dialogue as well as the committee continue.

Agreeing, Chairman Ed Wise said he intends to see that the committee does move forward.

In a cooperative move earlier this year, the Buckingham County Board of Supervisors agreed to fund $200,000 from its FY13 budget to enhance security for the county's public schools.

FY14 Budget Approved

During Wednesday's meeting, the school board officially approved its $22,601,586 budget. Prior to the approval, Superintendent Snead explained that the county budget was formally adopted by the board of supervisors on April 22; and, now the school board needed to act on its portion.

According to Snead, the school budget includes a local county transfer for operations of $6,047,678.

Sandra Wier, financial officer and school board clerk, noted that the local funding for operations is essentially the same as FY13 plus the additional $591,117 approved by the board of supervisors for the salary increases.

“We have had an absolutely positive experience during the budget process,” stated Dr. Snead. “I want to publicly thank the board, my staff, and essentially Ms. Wier for all the cooperation through the budget process.”

Extending his appreciation to each department, Snead said they were able to make recommendations that made good, sound sense.

Chairman Ed Wise offered, “I would like to thank everyone for all their hard work.”

He continued, “And, I would like to say that our relationship as far as the budget went with the board of supervisors is the most cordial one we've had.”

Wise shared, “I really appreciate that very much-from the budget increase for our raises and the buses and the security system that they were able to approve on their last year's money.”

Vice Chair Sherry Ragland added the board's appreciation to Dr. Snead. Echoing that sentiment, Wise offered that the relationship Sneed developed with county administration and the board of supervisors is built on trust and transparency.

Wise concluded, “Everyone has done a great job and I appreciate it.”

Make-Up Day Added

Following a recommendation by Superintendent Snead, the board voted to make Tuesday, June 4, a regular student day, which would allow for a full day of instruction; and designate June 5, 6, and 7 as early dismissal days for exams.

With the change, the planned teacher workday would be held on June 10.

“It would not at all interfere with graduation on June 8,” stated Snead, noting that he conferred with staff at the high school and with the principals.

Prior to making the recommendation, Dr. Snead explained that during his routine visits to the schools, teachers talked about wanting more instructional time. Although the additional day would not offer more instructional time prior to SOL testing, the superintendent said it would add to the instructional integrity of the year and offer more time for instruction prior to exams.

Four-Day Workweek

Dr. Snead presented a proposal to implement a ten-hour day, four-day workweek from June 10 through August 8.

Noting that Buckingham has customarily enacted the summer schedule in the past, as have other school systems in the state, Snead explained that the schedule is seen as an energy saver.

According to the superintendent, summer school would be held at the middle school so the other school buildings could be closed and their major HVAC systems shut down in an effort to save energy over the summer.

After Ragland moved to accept the recommendation and Kathy Midkiff seconded the motion, David Christian questioned the actual savings that would be incurred.

Facilities director Chip Davis said that with the new buildings the amount could not be determined at this time. “The bottom line will be our electric bill,” stated Davis.

Questioning the productivity of a four-day workweek, Christian stated, “I am a firm believer that you don't get the same by four tens out of your employees as you do with five eights.” He also noted the inconvenience to the public with the offices being closed on Fridays.

Ragland noted that the Friday closings are posted on the doors as well as on the website. She added that the longer hours would accommodate those who wanted to stop by after work.

Theresa Bryant added that the employees value and appreciate the three-day weekend during the summer. Thomas Hutcherson agreed.

Reiterating the idea of energy savings, Snead also stressed his confidence in the professionalism of the staff.

“I'll leave it at I disagree and call for the question,” stated Christian.

Subsequently, in a five-to-one vote, the motion passed, with Christian opposing.

Lunch Prices Increased by Ten Cents

After a discussion about increasing lunch prices to adhere to state requirements, the board unanimously approved a ten-cent increase in the cost of lunches for the 2013-14 school year.

The increase means students will be paying $1.95 for lunch and staff will pay $3.10.

Along with expressing concern about having to implement the increase, school board members also discussed the quality and quantity of the lunches served at the high school.

Superintendent Snead recommended designing a survey for high school students and staff. “If we could get the data, that might help us,” he offered.

Vice Chair Sherry Ragland suggested and Thomas Hutcherson agreed that the cafeteria staff would benefit from training in how to use spices and herbs as a healthier alternative to enhance the taste of food.

Christian suggested seeing if Chef Sandra Hawk, the CTE Culinary Arts teacher, would conduct an in-service program for the cafeteria staff sometime during the summer.

Following through on the suggestion, Hutcherson stated, “I would really like to see that happen.” Likewise, Ragland said she thought the survey would be helpful.

Subsequently, Snead said Chip Davis would work on setting-up the in-service. “And we will create a survey for the lunch program,” added Snead.

In Other Board Action

With its approval of the consent agenda, which included minutes from the April meeting, bills and accounts, monthly enrollment report, the board authorized three students enrolled in forestry at the Career and Technical Education Center and their instructor to attend Forestry Camp at the Holiday Lake.

The consent agenda approval also authorizes five members of the Future Farmers of America and two chaperones to attend the Virginia FFA Conference at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.

Concurring with a recommendation by Kyle Bryan, principal of the Buckingham Career and Technical Education Center, the board approved Southside Virginia Community College's cosmetology courses for the summer and fall semester.

The board approved the Virginia Retirement System Resolution for Member Contributions by Salary Reduction for School Divisions.

Dr. Snead explained the resolution was in accordance with Chapter 822 of the 2012 Acts of Assembly, Senate Bill 497. “Essentially what you have to do as a board is pass this resolution prior to July 1, 2013, so we can turn it in to VRS, to ensure that we have our employees on the correct plan,” he stated.

The school board also approved the VSBA insurance renewal proposal for FY14.

Personnel Agenda

Following a closed session, the board approved its personnel agenda as amended.

Resignations, effective June 30, include Donna Matthews, director of academic services, who has been appointed Superintendent of Rappahannock County Public Schools; and Kelly Wright, guidance counselor at Buckingham Primary.

Transfers include Kristina Stearrett, physical education teacher from BCHS to BCMS; Desiree Gregory, teacher, Buckingham Preschool to Buckingham Primary; Wendy Spivey, teacher, Buckingham Primary to Buckingham Preschool; Chuck Meek, physical education teacher Buckingham Primary to BCHS; Anita Godsey, speech pathologist to librarian at Buckingham Elementary.

Appointments include Tracy Davis, teacher, Buckingham Elementary; Ashley Carter, teacher, Buckingham Primary; Kish Heslip, physical education teacher at BCHS; and Kristye Moxley, English teacher, BCHS.