Dove Named Chairman

Published 2:50 pm Tuesday, July 9, 2013

PRINCE EDWARD — Two new members joined the County’s school board last week just in time for the annual organizational meeting.

With few exceptions, little will change.

Buffalo District school board member Russell Dove was again selected to serve as the board’s chairman. Dove, a candidate for the same district’s board of supervisors seat this November, was the lone candidate to be nominated for the seat.

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Also returning will be vice-chairwoman Susan Lawman, who represents the Lockett District and was unopposed.

Dove welcomed new appointees Sherry Honeycutt and Beulah Womack to the eight-member board. Both appointees bring a wealth of experience to the board. Honeycutt, who will represent Farmville District (701), previously served on the school board from 1992-2005. Womack, of the Hampden District, is a retired educator and was a school board member in New Jersey from 1979-2004.

More Organizational Matters

Board meetings (with the exception of November) will be held the first Wednesday of each month unless the date falls on the first or second of the month, then it will move to the following Wednesday. All regular meetings begin at 1:30 p.m. with a public comment period set for 4 p.m., except for September and February—the two annually scheduled evening meetings—which begin at 4 p.m. and have a public comment time set for 6 p.m.

Chairman Dove tapped fellow board members to serve in various committee capacities. The student affairs committee includes Linda Leatherwood (chair), Honeycutt, Womack and Dr. Timothy Corbett; the finance committee will include Darin Thomas and Dove; the elementary school improvement team will feature Womack and Dr. Corbett as the alternate; Susan Lawman will serve on the middle school improvement team with Honeycutt as the alternate; and Leatherwood will serve on the high school improvement team with Dr. Lawrence Varner as the alternate.

Womack also agreed to serve as the representative to the Governor’s School for Global Economics and Technology Joint Board. Dove also named Honeycutt to serve as the VSBA (Virginia School Boards Association) delegate and Womack as the alternate.

In other organizational news, the school board agreed to empower the student affairs committee to act on behalf of the school board to hear discipline appeals, designated Director of Curriculum and Instruction Laura Williamson to attend meetings in the absence of the superintendent, authorized the superintendent to assign or reassign instructional personnel for the fiscal year, authorized the superintendent to pay debt service, adopted Roberts Rules Of Order for school board governance (with the addition that the chair be allowed to vote), and again chose Angela Foster to serve as its clerk and the superintendent as the deputy clerk.

In Other News…

*The school board discussed VSBA revised policies on a second reading and approved a lengthy list; approved a resolution for spending state technology funds, totaling up to $154,000; and approved the local consolidated application for federal programs funds (which is anticipated at the same rate as the previous year, or a total of $1,050,524.31).

*It was noted that the school has received a $10,000 gift for the purpose of incentives to be paid in conjunction with the Advanced Placement (AP) program at the County’s high school. The school board did not, however, take action, agreeing instead with the superintendent’s recommendation to study the matter.

The anonymous donor, it was noted, had also presented a description of the intended purposes of the grant and Dr. Smith cited there are five provisions if the board accepts the gift.

That list included the participation of instructors in summer professional development in AP; tutoring beyond school hours for AP courses and tests; transportation and other costs for AP meetings or review sessions; teacher awards and incentives ($100 for each qualifying AP score of three, four or five or $500 for summer course development; and AP specific materials.

Dr. Smith suggested that the board let them do “a little research” and compare the proposal with the AP grant program that is ending and then make a recommendation at the August meeting on the acceptance of the gift.

*Heather Edwards, a parent, expressed concern over the high level of teacher turnover at the high school and middle school.

“…I think any solid academic institution needs good continuity in their faculty in order to be successful,” she commented. “So, this is a concern that I hear frequently from parents because our ability to better anticipate what our children’s experiences might be from year to year, I think, would really go a long way towards building trust again in the system. And I just wonder, too—this is probably already in place, but I wonder, too, if there’s an exit interview process, maybe at the level of the human resources office that takes place. This kind of interview may even have a goal of getting to the bottom of the reasons for really what seems to be kind of an annual summer exodus of teachers from the system.”