School Board Recognizes Principals, Presses Forward on Building Plans

The Clarke County School Board took time out last night to recognize outstanding leadership from its school principals. The School Board also continued to check-off school design details in hopes of maintaining a mid-summer ground breaking for the new building.

With Governor Bob McDonnell’s  designation of  March 8 -12 as Virginia, “Principals Appreciation Week,” Superintendent Dr. Michael Murphy used last night’s meeting to praise each CCPS school leader for their excellence and leadership. Murphy characterized the principal’s job as the most challenging role in the school system adding, “Being a high school principal is the hardest of all.”

Murphy and the School Board honored five principals in all, Johnson-Williams’s Evan Robb, Berryville-Cooley’s Stephen Geyer, CC High School’s John Werner, and Boyce Elementary’s Susan Catlett. Murphy also recognized the important leadership contribution of Jay Lucas. Although Lucas does not hold the title of “principal,”,Murphy said Lucas’s role as  Administrator at the F&M Center plays  an integral part of CCPS’s success in helping kids stay in school and graduate on time.

CCPS Principals (l-r) Dr. Stephen Geyer, Jay Lucas, Evan Robb, Susan Catlett, John Werner

CCPS Principals (l-r) Dr. Stephen Geyer, Jay Lucas, Evan Robb, Susan Catlett, John Werner

The evening also provided the School Board with updates on a range of topics. High School Principal Werner  presented the new CCHS course catalog. In addition to several course changes, Werner described the school’s adoption of  “PowerSchool,” a student course scheduling software system. According to Werner, CCHS students will soon be able to create their next-year course schedule  through PowerSchool. Not only will the software system make the scheduling process easier for school staff, students will  have a final version of their course schedule for the coming year before leaving school for summer vacation.

CCHS’s DECA student marketing and management organization provided an overview its many student benefits imploring the School Board to maintain funding support in the coming year. Concerned Citizens of Clarke County, a volunteer group committed to continuance of advanced coursework for CCHS students, noted that CCCC had raised over $25K over the past year.  CCCC funds have  allowed all 12 CCHS International Baccalaureate instructors to receive updated IB training and funded 23 IB/Advanced Placement student scholarships. The CCHS Athletic Department demonstrated its newly acquired electrotherapy machine.

Dr. Murphy noted that in spite of school cancellations caused by this years Arctic conditions, CCPS are not yet in danger of extending the school year.

Stefani Bell, the School Board student representative, asked the Board to consider moving the Curriculum Committee meeting to a time slot that would allow students to attend.

In construction news, the School Board rejected Crabtree,  Rohrbaugh & Associates (CRA) request to approve its 90% design document after CRA was unable to  certify that the design was, in fact, 90% complete. CRA also presented a revised plan to address cramped work space concerns  in the new school’s food service area. CRA’s suggested design solution involves elimination of a large pizza oven and reconfiguration of a structural wall. CRA floated a price of $7,500 for the changes but there was no formal agreement from the School Board for the change.

Last week the School Board unanimously approved $14,500 in legal fees for counsel Joseph Luchini. Luchini is charging the School Board a flat rate of $12K to review the construction bid documents and up to $2,500 for a legal opinion authorizing Chairperson Bouffault to act as the Board’s ‘authorized owner’s representative.”

Rejecting a “green” parking approach, the School Board opted away from a gravel parking option for overflow parking, a move that would have spared rain water from storm water management system. Allowing storm water runoff to naturally soak back into the soil, when feasible, is considered a “green” building technique. The School Board rejected the “green” option citing safety and aesthetic concerns. However, the Board did opt to route nearly three acres of storm runoff that will be generated from building rooftops into grass-covered areas when possible.

Fire flow concerns remained cloudy. Chairperson Bouffault reported that any schematic change to the proposed  hydraulic system would trigger a permit review by the Virginia Department of Health and thus delay the anticipated construction start date for the new school. Yet, the most recent design documents submitted by PHR&A estimated the cost of the fire flow design at $479K, over $200K more than previous estimates. The current design, as submitted to Virginia Department of Health and other agencies, requires replenishing 240K gallons of water over a two-hour period into Berryville’s water tower in the event of a fire. An alternative design relying more directly on ground tanks may be possible but would almost certainly result in a new review process thus delaying the project.

The School Board unanimously approved invoices for its consultants; Crabtree,  Rohrbaugh & Associates for $207K and Gannett-Fleming for $9K.


  1. Jim Gibson says:

    $2500 to tell us that RRB can have that sort of power? Wow…It’s also funny that so many deficiencies keep cropping up with the “already-purchased-last-Spring-by-RRB-and-the-SB” plans. Did they not do their home work and ask the right questions when they toured a middle school that currently houses 200 less students than our high school?

    Regarding scheduling, it’s a shame that Mr. Werner and Dr. Murphy put so much pressure on “class sizes” that electives teachers fear for their positions. How does one compare high school courses and a Kindergarten class? They’re not the same concept at all. The high school is typically set up more like a buffet of courses for kids to find their niches; a Kindergarten class needs a smaller class size so that every child gets enough attention in his/her formative year.

    • Jim Gibson says:

      It is nice to see the principals receive recognition they’re due. Their’s is a thankless job.

    • Tony Parrott says:

      When the SB voted 3-2 to make Robina the “owner’s agent” they did so with the stipulation they would be looking for an outside person to handle these duties. I wonder how the search is going?
      Once I see the actual opinion from the attorney I’ll comment on it.

  2. Tony Parrott says:

    The best part of School Board meetings to me is the recognition of students. Not taking anything away from the principals that were recognized, because they do a great job, the students are what the schools are about. The DECA presentation was outstanding! I knew nothing about DECA or what they actually did. But I learned a lot by sitting through the presentation. It’s wonderful to see so many kids active in groups like DECA and FFA in such a small school district.

    Next time see them washing cars I’ll be sure to help out with their fundraising. After all the snow now would be a good time for a fundraiser.