Updated: Ag Education Supporters Get Wakeup Call

CDN Editor: In an electronic mail message to CDN today (August 19, 2010) School Board Chairman Robina Bouffault said:

“You perhaps misunderstood me when you quoted me as saying:  “Last year horticulture had 65 students” Bouffault said. “This year there are only 45.” I said that two years ago horticulture had 65 students, while this past year  there were only 45.”

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School Board Chairman Robina Bouffault told the Clarke County Board of Supervisors yesterday that there are no plans or budget to consolidate the school’s agriculture and vocational technology training on the main campus of the new high school. Bouffault’s announcement caught several Supervisors by surprise and revealed a stark reality about the School Board’s budget priorities for the new campus.

Yesterday’s discussion was touched off by an impromptu comment by Supervisor David Weiss (Buckmarsh) suggesting that the county’s agriculture community still hopes to include a greenhouse and other “hands-on” curriculum at the new school campus. Current planning is focused on transporting students between the new high school facility and existing horticulture, agriculture and vocational facilities located at the existing high school.

Vocational education textbooks - Photo Edward Leonard

“I’ve been speaking with several people in the agriculture community and there is strong interest in moving the greenhouse and vocational technology and agriculture program to the new school site” Weiss said to Bouffault. “People want to help figure out how to do this.”

“That’s not an option” Bouffault replied. “There is no space for the facilities and no funds with which to do this. The plan is to leave all of the vocational technology and agriculture buildings where they are now. The school board had this discussion two years ago.”

Supervisor Weiss: “Then I recommend that you have the discussion again because you have a public relations problem.”

Bouffault: “We’re only talking about the “hands-on” aspect of the program. This is a small group putting its wish list to the top of the list”

Supervisor Byrd: “What is the cost of bringing the programs to the new location? Can you give us a figure on this?”

Bouffault: “We haven’t looked at the cost doing this. This is a difficult piece of land with quite a bit of slope. Storm water runoff is a major, major issue.”

As Supervisors Byrd and Weiss listened to Bouffault’s explanation, Supervisor Pete Dunning (White Post) attempted to squelch further discussion of consolidating the agriculture education functions on the new site.

CCHS Vocational Education building - Photo Edward Leonard

“We’ve got to support the School Board on this” Dunning said. “Everyone’s got a pet project and we can’t afford it. They don’t have to have all of that on the main campus. People have to grow up and adapt to the world today.”

School Board Chairman Bouffault then told the Board of Supervisors that the CCPS horticulture program was in decline.

“Last year horticulture had 65 students” Bouffault said. “This year there are only 45.”

[CDN Editor: Please see reference at the beginning of this story]

However, the CCPS horticulture program is not in decline, and has in fact more than doubled since last year.

According to CCPS enrollment figures, this year’s horticulture enrollment is 91 students, up from 45 in the last school year. Further, school officials said that approximately 20 freshmen students were turned away from horticulture classes last year due to teaching capacity challenges.

Likewise, student interest in CCPS’s overall agriculture education program is also growing at healthy pace with this year’s projected enrollment at 250 students, up from 228 last year.

Agriculture building at existing Clarke County High School - Photo Edward Leonard

Many in the agriculture community, including the Farm Bureau, have offered new ideas to the School Board to increase support for vocational and farm education programs within Clarke County Public Schools. The general sense in the community was that the dialogue with the School Board might lead to a solution for including a greenhouse and vocational facilities on the new school campus.

Bouffault’s statement yesterday seemed to rule out that possibility.

“I had never heard before that the issue had already been decided” said Supervisor Weiss after the meeting. Supervisor Barbara Byrd also said that she was also surprised by Bouffault’s statement.

Logistically, school staff and citizens close to the vocational and agricultural education program question the contention that the new high school site’s poor soil and drainage are reasons for keeping the agriculture programs separated from the main campus.

“The farm itself can stay where it is. There’s no reason at all that it needs to be at the new school site. The day-to-day student activities do need to be on the main campus though” said one school staff member. “If the agriculture and vocational students have to be separated it will mean the death of the program.”

It is unclear whether serious financial analysis of the costs and benefits associated with maintaining separate campuses has been performed. CCPS school officials estimate that transportation costs associated with maintaining separate campuses for agriculture students will cost nearly $25K per year. Student class time will also be consumed by each trip to and from the separate campuses.

Clarke County Farm Bureau President Clay Brumbach said that while he would love to see the new school support the vocational and agricultural classes on a single campus, he also believes that the School Board should be allowed to do its job.

“I respect the School Board’s ability to do what they can with what they’ve been given” Brumbach said. “The $7 million surplus has caused a lot of things to jump to mind by a lot of people for how the money can be used.”

“The Farm Bureau is always going to support agriculture in Clarke County” Brumbach said.

Clarke County High School horticulture greenhouse - Photo Edward Leonard

At yesterday’s meeting, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation liaison Philip Shenk told the Supervisors that Clarke’s agriculture community would like to have a conversation with the Clarke County School Board on the separate campus issue.

“Ideally we’d like to see the vocational and agriculture classes at the new high school without it costing a lot of money” Shenk said. “The agriculture community doesn’t want taxes to go up. But we also don’t want the vocational and agriculture students apart from the new high school.”

The Clarke County Farm Bureau says that agriculture is Clarke County’s leading economic sector.

At yesterday’s meeting Bouffault presented the Supervisor’s with a list of the School Board’s “Potential Project Cost Analysis” for capital improvement projects. While the School Board’s list of potential projects did include a cost estimate for eight additional classrooms for the new school, there was no mention of the requested greenhouse or other vocational buildings.

Several public officials have questioned the need to add classroom space to the new high school when population estimates for Clarke County are expected to remain stagnant.

The budget estimate for the eight additional classrooms alone is $1.9 million. Bouffault and the Clarke County Farm Bureau plan to meet on September 28th. No agenda has been announced.

Comments

  1. “That’s not an option” Bouffault replied. “There is no space for the facilities and no funds with which to do this.

    Bouffault: “We haven’t looked at the cost doing this

    Is it just me, or does anyone else see someone talking out of both sides of their mouth?

    Considering that it took anywhere from 10-20 years for the school to become a reality, maybe they should concentrate on getting it built first, with an eye for moving the programs later.

    • Robina is the BOS’ attack dog and does everything Pete Dunning tells her to do. She’s a 1 termer anyway, cuz she has eyes for Pete’s place on the BOS when he “retires” from the BOS. Shoot, Pete doesn’t show up for half the meetings anyway cuz he feels it’s not worth his time.

  2. dontaskme says:

    maybe they should focus on maintaining the IB, AP etc. programs instead of farm and voc. ranking from 43 to somehwere in the 400’s is awful. no offense to the “farmers” in Clarke, but my kids will follow in mine and my wife’s footsteps and every other member of my family in going to college at least (and graduating). focus on voc and farming at the expense of academic programs is not the answer. In case they have not noticed (the BOS), the demographics of Clarke have changed significantly i.e. a lot more higher educated families who expect top notch education for their kids, not an expectation to continue the family farming business.

    • Wow, selfish much?

      I assume you are new to the area. Based on that assumption, I also assume that you moved here for all the standard reasons, lower taxes, less traffic, less crime blah blah blah. I imagine part of what sealed the deal for you and your wife were the views of the rolling farm land that greeted you all as you came west across the mountain.

      Now let me ask you, do you think the county imports people to run those farms?

      While certainly not as “country” as it was 20-30 years ago, the county is still a rural/agricultural one. And it’s zoned to stay that way. I imagine you knew that.

      With that in mind, it only makes sense to help our kids that are going to run these farms in the future get versed in all the latest trends and technology for farming. It’s bad enough they will have to compete against Chinese slave farm labor. Now it appears if certain people have their way, they’ll have to compete to even get an ag based education.

      I’ll sign off with the standard answer. If the education the schools here isn’t up to your standards, there’s always Loudoun or Fairfax county.

      But then geez, there’s those pesky taxes, and crime, and traffic, and overcrowding
      in the schools, adn 80 kids to a classrom…………….

      Choices choices. Do I go live in a place like Loudon or Fairfax so my kids get a “top notch education”, or do I live out here and risk that they may not get into UVA because they were properly educated?

      Hmmmmmm

      • dontaskme says:

        Nope. Clarke for last 15 years, before the “boom” of new people in town. Made my choice a long time ago to move here and actually am happy with it and have no plans of ever moving and hope my kids want to live in the area as well. What ticks me off is whether the Matthews index is BS or not, going from 43 to 400 something is just plain wrong. This article may not have been the proper forum to express my frustration/anger with the BOS and SB and the “old boy” nature of Clarke politics.

        apologies for the stereotyping of “farmers”. typed and submittd by me without fully thinking it through.

        • Don Specht says:

          dontaskme said: “What ticks me off is whether the Matthews index is BS or not, going from 43 to 400 something is just plain wrong.”

          Do you think that possibly the cost-cutting move on the part of the School Board to no longer pay the student testing fees had something to do with that? The Challenge Index measures only participation in the testing program for the AP, IB, and Cambridge programs, so a drop in ranking only indicates that less students per capita did not test. I am not privy to current data, so I cannot comment on whether the number of students enrolled in IB courses is down or if the quality of their course work has faltered but I think you get the point.

          Aside to the CDN staff: Sorry for derailing the thread with all the IB stuff. I do hope the county can find a way to fully fund ALL their programs. The kids deserve it.

          CDN Editor: The broader discussion here seems to be about the virtues of a well rounded education and this thread is a terrific digression. As always, Clarke County citizens are presenting excellent discussion points. CDN is honored to facilitate the public dialog.

          • Ivan the Not such a bad guy afterall says:

            Don, Six out of fifteen diploma candidates passed.

          • Don Specht says:

            I’m gonna take the high road on this one.

            All fifteen of these young people are better for trying.

          • That tells you how well the teachers who taught them were prepared to teach the course. The kids that sign up for the IB program are no slouches. Unfortunately, the teachers weren’t prepared well enough to teach them. Probably why the Physics teacher left after his first year. None of his kids passed the exam.

    • IB is a waste of money. It’s just another type of AP, only you have to pay somebody else as well. We only need one advanced studies choice here anyway. The prior administration only pushed it so Loudoun and Fairfax folks would come out her and buy up the land and housing that the prior administration and their buddies speculated on. It took a while to see through the farce that the Matthews scale is, but we came around soon enough.

    • Your lack of intelligence on this issue is very evident. Agriculture employs individuals in over 300 identified careers and the majority of these careers require education beyond the high school level. The largest agriculture programs in the country are in the cities of Philadelphia and Chicago. The students in current programs utilize agricultural examples to learn science, mathematics and (yes) even a little production. One of the biggest issues facing the world is how to increase the production of food and fiber. Given the current growth rate of the world’s population, production must increase by 40% or we will have people starving in numerous nations by the year 2040. I certainly don’t want that for my family, and the people you are referring to as mere “farmers” can’t do it on their own without the support of national leaders, policy makers, scientists and higher education administrators that were likely participants in their own high school Ag. programs at some point.

      • former_ag_teacher says:

        Thank you for your articulate response! Agriculture is still the number one employer in the United States. Careers range from production to biotechnology, food science, veterinary medicine, ornamental horticulture (do you know how much a landscaper makes?!), forestry, engineering, and agronomy. Just this year Pioneer announced that it has unfilled positions every year and a first year employee with a bachelor’s degree starts at about $50,000. My graduates have attended (and will graduate from) top-notch schools such as: Cornell, Penn State, Rutgers, Virginia Tech, University of Maryland, University of Delaware, and Yale.

        Yes, it is essential that our students receive the highest quality education possible in language arts, mathematics, and science. Agriculture classes provide students with the opportunity to apply those skills to real world problems with a teacher’s guidance. Writing letters to congress about an agricultural issue, preparing speeches to deliver at community events, calculating fertilizer applications or medicine doses, balancing rations, using genetics to develop strong breeding programs, and understanding the physics and chemistry of soil (maybe they can fix the district’s soil problem) are regular activities in Virginia’s agriculture curriculum and they call on the higher level knowledge and thinking skills school administrators believe can only be taught in AP Calculus and to the small percentage of “advanced” students.

        Visit an agriculture program. See the students figuring out how to control pests and climate in that greenhouse so they can produce a vigorous crop. Those are the kids Montsanto and Pioneer want to hire. Watch students sanitizing facilities, calculating rations, administering medications, and checking animals for signs of distress/disease. They’ll have careers with Merck, Bristol-Meyers-Squib, Scherring-Plough, Phizer, and Johnson and Johnson, or as vet techs and veterinarians. The students learning about estrus synchronization and artificial insemination? Select Sires wants them. Now add in the leadership development that comes with designing and implementing FFA events and running an FFA chapter (ffa.org) and the inquiry and decision making skills that are called upon in a Supervised Agricultural Experience.

        Agriculture Education is preparing students to have life-long careers and to serve as leaders in literally hundreds of careers, many of which have not even been invented yet. It reinforces abstract concepts taught in other courses and provides the ever-sought answer to the ages-old question, “why do we need to know this?” Scoffing at “hands-on” learning shows a lack of understanding of basic educational principles and theories which tell us that “hands-on” learning is also “minds-on” learning more often that the typical book and lecture learning can be.

        I suggest that the residents of Clarke County examine how much their Board of Supervisors knows about education in general and agricultural education specifically. Why are they willing to spend more money on the highest performing students (AP and IB)? What percentage of their students actually achieve 4s and 5s on the AP test – as required by most colleges to receive credit? Does this justify running those programs for a few students at the expense of others? What careers are available to graduates of the school? And what is the quality of life afforded by those careers? Do the programs offered by the school line up with the careers available? Which programs are helping students become productive members of society?

    • agteacher says:

      That’s funny. I have a master’s degree from COLLEGE and teach vocational classes! You seem to be stereotyping these classes as if the kids that take them have no plans of going to college. I teach kids that spend their summers at the governor’s schools, are top 10% of their class, etc. How rude of you. When’s the last time you even set foot on a farm? I have one of those too and, wow, a lot of the farmer’s I know have COLLEGE degrees. Maybe you shouldn’t forget where the food you put in your mouth and the clothes you put on your ignorant back come from.

    • Concerned says:

      Why don’t you ask how many children in the Ag program also participate in IB/AP courses??? I know my son does and excels in both. Why don’t you ask one of the major farms in Clarke County how many of their children are college educated. They live right down the road from me and so far they are 3 for 3. My children are two for three. Today’s America does have “shrinking farmland”, however due to top knotch research at universities we have learned how to obtain more yield per acre, etc. Where do you think the research related to Ethanol came from [redacted]?? Perdue University has done wonderful research on how much better students participating in an Agriculture such as FFA do throughout their school years. They are both more goal and task oriented in many cases. I hope that your children will do well in college, it will be a shame if they starve before they make it through.

    • Gee I sure hope none of your kids want to be farmers! That would be terrible for you! Remind them that BMW nor Mercedes don’t make farm equipment. And farmers don’t look down on others as well as somebody as somebody like you who was obviously educated in a big, fancy city college. We are all so impressed!

    • ignorancemustbebliss says:

      How very smug of you to think the ag students and their parents aren’t educated to your level. You obviously no nothing of the hours, ingenuity and business sense it takes to run a farm or any ag related business. I know a lot of farmers that naturally have an awful lot of common sense and have trumped that by getting higher educations too. Our new ag teacher at the high school has a Master’s degree….a lot of educators teaching core classes can’t say that! Shame on you for looking down on a program that teaches values, leadership and self reliance. Why don’t you look at the track record of that ag dept, the awards, accomplishments and higher degrees abound! Those kids are grounded and become very successful and viable citizens. There’s more to ag than “farming”. And saying that, the next meal you have….thank a farmer!

    • Clarke Native says:

      WOW! Yikes! Farmers are WELL educated individuals, too! Believe it or not, farmers DO expect “a top notch education” for their children. And what, may I ask, in the world is wrong with continuing a family farming business? We can’t all be doctors, engineers, or attorneys. Where does the food on your table come from? Personally, I’m not a fan of receiving my tomatoes from China or my milk from India, but that’s just me. Stick around awhile, get to know the farming families of our community, and I think you will realize that you need to change your stereotypical, condescending attitude.

      Unfortunately, your words about our farming families completely negated the point you were trying to make.

    • Perhaps you are not aware that many of these ‘AG’ kids do indeed go onto college to further their careers IN Agriculture,attending schools like Va Tech to become Ag teachers (like Maggie Long-Clarke Alumni and current first year Ag teacher at CCHS this year, who is teaching your children), Extension Agents who help you out when your trees are infested with various pests), Farm Managers, Vets (who care for your beloved pets when they are sick or injured), Specialists in a variety of Agriculture from Horticulture to the production of the food ‘You and yours’ stuff your face with 3 times a day. Apparently, you’re one of the “my food comes from the shelf at the grocery store” types who moved here from the city with no concept of the reality of food production. And so you know, a large portion of these “Ag’ kids are AP/Honors students and Athletes as well, so they aren’t just some dumb farm kid, as you’d like to think. They are just as smart as YOUR kid, and deserve the same opportunities to learn.
      Do I take this personally? Yes, I am a 4H mother. I have 3 kids. My 2 girls are both 4H kids, one a Senior this year at the hs who just finished up her last year in 4H and raising and showing animals, and the other a 5th grader at Boyce who just finished her first year. Through our many years in 4H in this county, many of these ‘Ag” kids and their families have become our dearest friends and some are like our family. To me you are degrading part o my family as ‘not as worthy’ as yours, I find you to be extremely ignorant when it comes to the realities of the education of agriculture and what these kids go on to provide to our community. I can only hope, that for your sake, our economy doesn’t get worse than it is and you don’t have to rely on your farmer neighbor down the road if the local Food Lion is short on beef, eggs, pork, chicken, milk, or fruits and vegetables. Hmmm…wonder how you and yours would do without those?

      • former 4-Her says:

        I have gone trough both the 4-H and FFA programs and I am very proud to have done so, I was in the high school when the ag students had to be bused to the old high school to take those classes and had a lot of time taken away from learning in that class for that reason. It is ashame that this problem is even being consider again. I am presently managing a farm that is producing some of that food that these people think just appears out of nowhere. The school board really needs to look at building a school that meets the needs of every student so that they can be better in the field of study they want to be. They should also build a complete school before spending money on other projects, this money was for a high school to be built not halfway and the other money for pet projects. I believe that the picture that was published [redacted] had the ag/technology dept as part of the school, not an add on later. It is very discouraging that the school board would even think of doing something like that to this community. Maybe these are not the right people to be in this kind of position. Maybe they should think about that and listen to the citizens in their district, they are the ones that elected you to voice their best interest.

  3. And to think that [redacted] Pete duped all those farmers in his district that he supports Ag in CC. Obviously, his true colors sre shining brightly through. Where did his kids go to school anyway?

  4. Concerned says:

    Hmmm…. Over 340 students for these classes and we don’t have room for them at the new school. It would be nice to try to put them in that 6,000 square foot technology wing at the back of the school which is already planned. You have 2 agriculture teachers in place and one horticulture teacher part time in place, which means they are already in the budget, you have quite a bit of equipment which can come over from the old high school, and a supportive Agriculture community who would be willing to help out by seeking funds for the extras. A greenhouse may come in at between 75,000 to 125,000. So, how is leaving the program at the old high school the right answer when you are going to pay 25,000 or so a year to bus the kids and have nothing to show for it. I am sincerely hoping that Robina will see the sense in doing this now that she has factual numbers. Agriculture is by far the largest industry in the state of Virginia, let’s prepare our students to participate in it!

  5. Don Specht says:

    Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. [Santayana]

    The cost of transporting the students to and from the remote ag facilities will force the issue, as it did the last time CC built a new hs.

  6. Don Specht says:

    dontaskme says: “maybe they should focus on maintaining the IB, AP etc. programs instead of farm and voc. ranking from 43 to somehwere in the 400′s is awful”

    The measuring tool is equally awful. The Challenge Index measures only participation, not performance. In my humble and now-retired professional opinion CC would be served just as well by continuing to offer AP courses and maintaining the strong dual-enrollment link they have with LFCC. In austere times there are things within the academic side of the budget that can be eliminated, such as the IB program, without reducing the capability of the hs to serve the needs of all students.

    Trust me, I am familar with the IB curriculum, and I find parts of it laudable: The TOK course, the fact that the examinations are at the end of a two-year course of study, instructors must predict the scores of their students prior to testing, … What I do firmly believe is that the expense of the program is unnecessary when you can get the same bang for your buck with AP & DE.

    Bottom line: The keys to success in secondary education are supportive parents, good instructors, and students who are willing to devote the time and exhibit the desire to excel. The programs used to deliver instruction are less important than these factors.

    You learn by doing. Any academic teacher will tell you that non-participatory direct instruction is the least effective tool in promoting long-term retention. Coaches, band and play directors, and ag and tech instructors have always known this. I would urge the BOE to reconsider their stance and serve the needs of all. It takes a big tent to house all the potential that our young people have to offer. Offering these courses remotely is a step into the past, and many will remember the last time that was done. Much was spent on transportation, and the delay in constructing the proper facilities proved costly.

    • Geez, Don, why did you retire? You could do well in administration!

    • Why don’t you explain what you think the cost of the internationally recognized and rapidly growing IB program is Don?
      IB registration fees? Nope-paid by the students.
      IB test fees? No again-paid by the students.
      IB teacher training? Wrong again, paid by an outside grant.

      If you want to equalize the Ag and IB cost structures, you would need to start charging the Ag students like they do the IB students. So the cost is how much to the county?? Let’s start at zero and you do the math.

      • Don Specht says:

        Pro-Ed: Why don’t you explain what you think the cost of the internationally recognized and rapidly growing IB program is Don?
        —–
        Me: If you are going to trumpet the growth of the IB program, why not cite some numbers?

        Internationally recognized, but how often do any students gain credit with Virginia colleges and universities through the IB program? I contend that in the US there is more recognition for AP than there is for IB in terms of course credit earned.

        From http://www.collegeconfidential.com/dean/archives/ap-vs-ib.htm

        Another consideration to keep in mind is that the more selective colleges often give college credit only for IB classes taken at the “Higher Level” (“HL” in IB lingo). IB students take three classes at that level and the rest at the Standard Level (“SL”). Some colleges give credit only for IB exam scores of 7 (the top); some for lower scores. Thus, even the most outstanding students may only get college credit in three areas, while AP students could end up with credit in many more subjects, depending on how many AP classes the student takes, how he fares on the exams, and what the college’s credit policy is. Some parents and students report that they have to jump through more hoops for IB credit than for AP credit, especially when students are not at the most selective colleges.
        —–

        Pro-Ed: IB registration fees? Nope-paid by the students.
        IB test fees? No again-paid by the students.
        —–
        Me: Hmmmm …. User fees, sorta like “pay-to-play,” are an expense the family must incur.

        Please note that the AP program does not impose a student registration fee. Also while it is true that the cost of both examinations to the student are about the same, AP provides students with the opportunity to have their official AP transcripts sent automatically to five (5) schools they are considering attending free of charge. IB charges students $12 for each school.
        IB does allow one free submission to a U.S. university and two to a Canadian university, if the student has the foresight to request this option in September before the May exams.
        —–

        Pro-Ed: IB teacher training? Wrong again, paid by an outside grant.
        —–
        Me: While I was still teaching in Clarke the county was kind enough to send me to two different training sessions, one in New York City, the other in Sante Fe, NM. In the years after I left I went to several week-long AP Institutes, one at Wake Forest, the others were hosted by various high schools under the Fairfax County Public Schools. Trust me, the AP Institutes were better in terms of the quality of the instruction, the networking with other instructors, and I’d venture to guess that the AP events were less expensive, especially when I was commuting from home to Fairfax. I also did all the AP curriculum work during my summer vacations, while the IB work was during the school term, iirc.

        Oh yeah, what happens when the grant runs out?
        —–

        Pro-Ed: If you want to equalize the Ag and IB cost structures, you would need to start charging the Ag students like they do the IB students.
        —–
        Me: I want to do no such thing. Let’s review what I said …

        “In austere times there are things within the academic side of the budget that can be eliminated, such as the IB program, without reducing the capability of the hs to serve the needs of all students.”
        […]
        “What I do firmly believe is that the expense of the program is unnecessary when you can get the same bang for your buck with AP & DE.”

        So if the county were to charge ag students user fees it wouldn’t be the first time this was done in CC.
        —–

        Pro-Ed: So the cost is how much to the county?? Let’s start at zero and you do the math.
        —–
        Me: I think you have over-simplified the fiscal argument, P-E.

        • Darryl Holland says:

          Any individual or group from Clarke County who would like to visit a new Agriculture and Horticulture program [with greenhouse and livestock facilities] are invited to Henry County and Magna Vista High School in Southside Virginia [Martinsville]. I would also think anyone at Henry County Schools [School Board Office or School Board members or members of our Board of Supervisors or our Division Superintendent] would be willing to speak to any interested party in regard to the impact of these two programs [Horticulture and Agriculture] on our local educational system, and the value of having these on the main school campus. Sincerely, Darryl Holland dholland@henry.k12.va.us

        • Sandra Stickovitch says:

          IB vs AP. That is a debate that each parent must muddle over. We chose to send our daughter to a private school and have her pursue AP/DE courses over sending her to CCHS and having an IB diploma. IB and AP both have their advantages but for us, IB was not an option.

          I am not familiar with the high school but do they offer the same amount of AP classes as they do IB or is IB focused on more? I’m out of the loop.

          I hope the school board decides to move the Ag building over to the new high school. We need to support our farmers as much as possible. There is a new revolution out here and its called buying local. There are plenty of opportunities for local farmers to sell the items they grow-farmers markets, restaurants, specialty stores, etc. We need to keep the foods that we eat local for all of our sakes. We as citizens need to support this critical school program in order to ensure the safety of our food for years to come. Just take the recent egg recall……380 million eggs were recalled….but none were recalled that were raised locally.

          See my point?

          BTW, Mr. Specht-NDA will not be the same without you! I know Alexis will miss you. Enjoy!

    • Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would agree with anything Don Specht had to say! Thanks, Daddy Don, for your insight and wisdom.

      • Allan McWilliams says:

        JAFO I have great respect for Don Specht & his wife Nancy a long time CC teacher. My son started college in 1991 has become a Physical Therapist.He started college @ VCU. He was scared to death when he started math classes with students from the large schools in the northern Va area. He has told me more than once thanks to Don Specht he was better prepared than the kids from the so called better & larger schools. I thank you again myself Don.

  7. Concerned says:

    The Agriculture and Horticulture Departments both raise funds for themselves, Pro-Ed. The citrus sale FFA does is a major fundraiser. And, really when did this become a fight between IB and Ag? As far as I know any decisions concerning IB classes do not entail construction questions. The Ag department and horticulture department do. Stop muddying the waters and fight your cause in front of the supervisors like we are.

  8. Bystander says:

    This is incredible. The land has quite a bit of slope? You chose this land Robina! You blocked the purchase of the “flat” SA site, in fact, you personally met with DCR to assist the owner in filing a complaint to sabotage the site…it’s a matter of public record (May 2007 School Board Meeting minutes). You bullied the other current Board members as to the exact placement of the building on this site and now there is no room for horticulture and agriculture? Robina you are a disaster!

    And the student count? The woman doesn’t know her numbers; as usual she is making it up as she goes. Thank you Clarke Daily News for calling her out on another set of [redacted]!

    • Unwelcome Outsider says:

      Robina’s involvement is systematically ruining the school system with two goals in mind – to dissuade new families from moving into Clarke County and to prompt current residents with school-age children into packing up and moving out.

      So what’s the problem? Whether or not they’ll publicly admit it, this what many of the “old-timers” want anyway.

      The decimation of school programs (whether Ag or IB or AP) and the debacle over the new high school are means to an end.

  9. Darrell Lloyd says:

    What a shame. There is more to FFA than tractors, hogs, and corn…. Many people would be surprised by the life lessons learned from this organization. Please take time to research and understand what FFA and Vo Ag actually teaches for before tossing it aside.

    BTW……who will feel [CDN Editor: Was “feed” intended here rather than “feel”?] this country in a few years? Not everyone is born to be a systems engineer working for NASA. Plus, one can get into a state university specifically to study ag science.

    • Fly on the wall says:

      Keep in mind, too, that Ag classes are just that – classes. FFA is a club, like DECA.

      • Agteacher says:

        Just to keep it straight – FFA and DECA are co-curricular clubs that go hand-in-hand with the classes and only students in those classes can be in the clubs. They’re not open to the general student population. FFA values are taught in the classroom and carried out through the organization. Jimmy Carter was an FFA member, as were many senators, congressmen, judges, CEOs, governors, etc. These people all took agriculture classes!

  10. Concerned says:

    Anyone enrolled in the Ag program at CCHS is also a member of FFA.