As the Clarke County School Board opened the new year, one of its first duties was to elect a Chairman and Vice-Chairman for 2011. Out-going Chairman Robina Bouffault opened the process with an overview of the events and accomplishments of the last year. She remarked:
In spite of the economic downturn and the many new challenges that our school board has faced over the last year, I believe that we have done an excellent job of progressing on many fronts:
Our long-awaited new high school is under construction. It was a banner day last July when we signed our construction contract with Howard Shockey and Sons, and had our official ground-breaking on July 24th, even if it was under a scorching sun with a 100 degree temperatures. Now, six months later, our school construction is proceeding on time and on budget. Let’s hope the weather allows it to stay that way.
The upside of the poor economy helped us to obtain a construction cost well underneath the one budgeted. This has had the positive effect of giving us an extra $ 7 million that we can dedicate to the renovation of not only the current high school, but Cooley and Primary as well.
Getting our new high school built is definitely the highlight of 2010 for our board.
But, we did not stop there. Our school division, after all, is all about educating children and everything that requires.
Our board contracted with the firm SODEXO for our school meals, and I believe that the positively rave reviews we have received are a testimony to the great improvement in food quality, and a tribute to the hard work of our Superintendent and his staff who made it happen.
The board congratulated Rick Catlett, who was promoted to the Assistant Superintendent’s position, and who is using his many talents to balance our students’ needs with those of our hard-working staff and the many demands of the VDOE and those pesky un-funded mandates that plague all of our school divisions, and create so much red tape.
2010 also saw the arrival of three new school board office employees – Lisa Floyd, our new Director of Instruction and Curriculum, Ed Shewbridge our Testing Coordinator, and Randy Trenary, our new Director of Operations, all of whom are already well advanced in working towards improving and refining our curricula, testing, school operations. We are confident that their input will show excellent educational and operational results over the upcoming year.
Our IT Department, under the guidance of David Baggett, has progressed in bringing our IT infra-structure up to speed, and is working to make the technology in our new high school state-of-the-art. Much has been already been done – yet there is still much more to do, funding permitting.
Last but not least, our joint Maintenance Director, Bobby Levi, has been a true wizard at not only maintaining but beautifying our school buildings, both efficiently and unobtrusively. He and his assistant Ruby Miller run a well-oiled machine and make it look easy. They have our thanks.
So, where are we going in 2011?
Our board is facing a double-whammy: not only a difficult budget situation again for FY12, – this will be the fourth year in a row – but a continuing decline in our pupil population, which also equates to fewer dollars in revenue. Yet we must protect our vital mission: that of guaranteeing an excellent education for all of our students, even during these difficult times.
We cannot rest on our laurels, well deserved though they may be. There is still much work to be done, and scant funds to do it with. However, we have a solid Superintendent, a highly qualified and motivated staff, and an entire community supporting us. The challenges may be many, but I am completely confident that our board and staff have the will and the ability to tackle them as they arise.
So, school board members, let’s roll up our sleeves, get to work, and make 2011 another good year.
Tom Judge opened the nominations for Chairman and Barbara Lee was nominated by Jennifer Welliver. Robina Bouffault seconded the nomination. There were no other nominations and when the votes were cast, Ms. Lee was elected unanimously. Ms Bouffault relinquished her seat and Ms. Lee immediately took up the position of Chairman of the Clarke County School Board for 2011.
Next the position of Vice-Chairman needed to be filled. Emily Rhodes name was put forth and she was also elected unanimously.
Ms Lee’s first meeting as Chairman was a marathon session filled with challenges for the upcoming year. The Clarke County School system faces yet another year of diminishing funds compounded by declining enrollment rates in the system which will mean lower funding from the state in the future.
Commenting on her new position and goals for the upcoming year, Barbara Lee said, “My goal is to have a united board. I want to run things as smoothly as possible.”