School Board Meeting Update
August 11, 2022
• Tim Davidick • Anna Weddle (Chair) • Jenny Wilson • Dana McCaleb (Vice-Chair) • Matt East •
School Board Meeting Recap
Thursday, August 11, 2022
There were several notable moments during the August 11 School Board meeting, held at the School Board Office (143 Poor Farm Road, Fincastle, VA 24090) from 5:30 to 8:45 PM. Timestamps are included with each highlight to help you navigate directly to the point in the recorded meeting, which is available in the Archives section of BCPS Live.
1. Guardian Initiative (Timestamp 5:20 - 5:32)
2. First Day of School Update (Timestamp 7:30 - 12:30)
School board office administrators were able to visit each building to interact with students, staff, and building principals. 4,470 students were present in our buildings and virtual academy on day one. This number is higher than last year as we have seen increased enrollment in the southern part of the county.
An unexpected fire alarm occurred just a few minutes before dismissal at Lord Botetourt High School. Botetourt first responders were quick to the scene to assess the situation. Some students were late in getting home, but several parents expressed gratitude for the prompt communication from the division.
3. Superintendent's Report (Timestamp 12:35 - 22:00)
- July 29: New Teacher Orientation - BCPS welcomed 45 new teachers
- August 4: Botetourt Health Department hosted a vaccination clinic
- August 1: Teachers returned to work and participated in professional development in-services
- Special thanks to Altec Industries, Yokohama Tire Corporation, and United Way for their generous donations of school supplies on behalf of BCPS students
- Botetourt County Schools served 334 students during the BCPS Summer Academy
- The technology department distributed Chromebook devices to all 5th graders, 9th graders, and teachers.
Mr. Dewease answered some maintenance-related questions from board members. He reported that the amount of fungal spores in targeted areas at Lord Botetourt High School is significantly decreased following mitigation efforts.
4. Strategic Direction Update (Timestamp 22:01 - 1:15:20)
Dr. Russ and members of the Strategic Planning Team, along with our partners at Thru-Ed, Simma Reingold and David Irwin, presented an update for board members.
Botetourt County Public Schools' 3 Commitments:
- Every Student - graduates prepared for meaningful employment, higher education, or military service.
- Every Employee - is a member of a community of collaboration, planning, and practice that fosters personal and professional growth.
- Every Learning Environment - is designed to connect students to real-life, authentic learning experiences, guided by our community's values and needs.
There is an opportunity at the upcoming board meeting on September 8 for a public hearing on the strategic direction. There are no time limits for this public hearing section and individuals are encouraged to share their thoughts.
6. CIP Plan & School Board Statement (Timestamp 1:23:58 - 1:43:04)
- Anna Weddle provided a statement explaining the difference between a school division's Operating Budget and Capital Improvement Plan. Since 2008, Botetourt County Schools has been able to perform standard maintenance, but has been underfunded for capital improvement projects, such as building repairs, bus replacements, playgrounds, visitor vestibules for safety, etc. The school board developed a Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) in 2020 but has yet to receive the funding requested. A miscommunication between the School Board and Board of Supervisors has resulted in the school division not receiving $4.5 million dollars that was anticipated to address capital improvement needs.
- Dana McCaleb was informed that not only would the school division not receive the CIP funding requested, but that there would continue to be a deficit for the next five years. Although funding from the state in the amount of $2.5 million dollars is greatly appreciated, it pales in comparison to the amount needed to fix and replace our aging structures. She stated PTA groups should not shoulder the burden to raise funds for that which should come from the county. She has reached out to Governor Youngkin and Delegate Austin regarding the situation.
- Matt East expressed similar sentiments regarding the breakdown of communication and the dire need to address our buildings, especially as it pertains to security.
- Jenny Wilson expressed a concern that the condition of our buildings may drive away potential residents who will never know what we offer in Botetourt County.
- Tim Davidick encouraged leaders to feel an urgency to get creative and address these priority needs. "We need to be prepared, and we've kicked this can down the road for too long." He reached out to Delegate Austin, Delegate Head, and Senator Newman as legislative liaison.
7. Policy Change (Timestamp 1:44:57 - 1:46:42)
Jenny Wilson proposed that section C of fundraising policy JL-BR be amended. This change would remove the need to submit an opt-out form and will instead read:
"Student participation in fundraising is strictly voluntary. Student grades, playing time, and athletic practice time will not be affected by participation, or lack of participation, in a fundraising activity."
The motion passed unanimously.
8. Community Outreach Reports (Timestamp 1:46:45 - 1::)
- The Botetourt Education Foundation will meet next month.
- Mr. Davidick also reached out to Delegate Austin, Delegate Head, and Senator Newman regarding legislation following the Commonwealth passing its budget in June. Senator Newman sent information on school safety and capital improvement resources.
- Reminder that Virginia passed legislation to pay for meals for students who qualify for reduced prices. This is valid for the 2022-23 and 2023-24 school years!
- He offered to take our representatives on a tour of our buildings.
- Attended a Character Counts meeting
- Attended the 4-H Fair and is proud of all the students who participated
- Parks & Recreation met on the first and discussed updates on projects and sports seasons
- Mandy Adkins, Director of Parks & Recreation reported every team for fall sports has a coach
- Dr. Russ and Mrs. McCaleb attended a meeting at the newly named Mountain Gate Community College (formerly Dabney S. Lancaster Community College)
- Completed training with the Virginia School Board Association
- Attended new teacher orientation and was impressed with how many of our 'new' teachers are veteran educators
- Attended the regular Board of Supervisors meeting
- Attended the 4-H Fair and enjoyed seeing a lot of our younger students succeeding