LCVA is ‘invaluable’ to Buckingham

Published 1:13 pm Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Buckingham County Supervisor Morgan Dunnavant, who represents District Four, is right about one thing: There is a “myriad of people with their hands out that the board doesn’t say ‘no’ to.” What he’s wrong about is that many of those hands are giving, not taking, including the Longwood Center for the Visual Arts (LCVA).

The county’s annual $1,063 appropriation to the LCVA has recently come under fire from two supervisors, including Dunnavant, but putting that money in context reveals a substantial return on investment, with all the benefit going to Buckingham’s children.

Buckingham County’s preschool lost funding for all resource classes, including art, music, physical education, library and computer science, in 2013. Since then the LCVA has partnered with the school to fill that chasm. Each month, LCVA’s school programs educator travels to the school to provide programs to 135 students over a two-day period, incorporating the lost resource classes and also geography, world culture, social studies, math, science and language arts. And all supplies, travel, LCVA staff and resources are provided virtually free of charge.

In 2015, Buckingham commissioned a new comprehensive plan from the Commonwealth Regional Council to outline its desired physical, social and economic development. In regards to schools, the plan found that “education continues to be a concern for Buckingham County,” as well it should be, considering the county’s elementary school is “accredited with warning” and is deemed a “priority school” by the federal government, meaning that it has to undergo rigorous academic reviews and is required to adopt and implement school improvement plans.

When one considers that, according to the Department of Education, the average salary of a preschool teacher in the county is $30,080, the LCVA fills positions that would cost Buckingham $154,000 annually. The LVCA staff works tirelessly to raise funds to provide these services.

The LCVA’s work in Buckingham and surrounding counties is invaluable, and for supervisors not just to take it for granted, but to condemn it, for them to dismiss the care, fundraising, training, intervention, education and support that the LCVA consistently and excellently provides, shows a dangerous and hostile disregard for the education of the county’s children. And that’s one thing Buckingham County can’t afford.

Juanita Giles is the executive director of the Virginia Children’s Book Festival and a member of the LCVA Advisory Board. Her email address is Juanita@vachildrensbookfestival.com.