By Matt de Simone
The Botetourt County Public Schools (BCPS) School Board held its monthly meeting at the administration offices in Fincastle last Thursday.
The board recognized BCPS Employees of the Month for December and January. Custodian at Colonial Elementary Jose Ariza Lama and Teacher Licensure Specialist Linda Dameron received their certificates of recognition.
The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) recognizes February as School Board Appreciation Month and School Board Clerk Appreciation Month. The board showcased a brief video featuring BCPS students thanking the School Board members for their leadership.
The public comment portion of the meeting featured comments by Botetourt residents regarding the current mask policy for teachers and the mask policy for students on school buses.
The board appointed Valley District representative Tim Davidick as the new School Board Legislative Liaison and Dana McCaleb as the new School Board Parliamentarian.
Superintendent Dr. John Russ made his monthly report. He noted that the budget and finance department submitted the annual IDEA Maintenance of Effort Report to the Virginia Department of Education. The report shows whether school divisions maintained spending levels for Special Education year over year. BCPS was informed it passed the maintenance of effort test.
The first FY23 budget work session was held on January 13. Discussion included high-level factors that will impact the FY23 budget, such as local composite index, enrollment, and economic factors at the state level. The board discussed then-Gov. Northam’s outgoing budget proposal and the potential changes that may occur through the budget cycle with the recent change in leadership.
Russ noted that employees who plan to retire and participate in the Retirement Service Program submitted applications by the February 1 deadline. Division and school administrators participated in the Western Virginia Public Education Consortium job fair at the Salem Civic Center on February 5.
The Instructional Personnel Report was submitted as part of the fall Master Schedule Collection. BCPS continues to report a high rate (96.44%) for the number of class sections taught by licensed and adequately endorsed instructional personnel.
The Special Education Department completed the Core Special Education Assessment in December. The report is part of the new cyclical auditing system employed by the Virginia Department of Education to oversee Special Education practices in localities within the state. The self-study involved compiling evidence and writing narratives explaining how BCPS is compliant with regulations and gathering evidence from numerous student records.
Russ’s report on instruction highlighted the Habitat for Humanity high school project for seniors titled “The Senior Experience.” He recognized the principals at both high schools for organizing the event. The project gives seniors the chance to experience a day at a Habitat for Humanity construction site.
“It’s a lasting project (the students) will have their hands on and will have something to show (at the project’s competition),” Russ added during his report.
BCPS submitted evidence of compliance for the 2020-2021 school year for the Standards of Quality Compliance Pilot Program. The pilot program is a new extension of the SOQ Compliance Report submitted annually in July. The evidence was due February 1 and was submitted on time.
The 2019-2020 math cohort professional development before COVID will begin again in the fall. Radford University faculty Agida Manizade and Dale Parris will facilitate the cohort of K-5 teachers to provide individualized professional development opportunities. The program offers ten custom sessions in the following content areas: geometry, rational numbers; proportional reasoning; place value; numbers and operations; patterns and functions.
BCPS started a strategic planning process with a kick-off engagement meeting on January 25. BCPS has partnered with Thru-Ed for the strategic planning process and, ultimately, developing the next division’s comprehensive plan. The engagement meeting included administrators and community stakeholders.
The planning team members participated in conversations with the Thru-Ed partners and learned about the strategic planning process components. Additionally, the consultants visited three schools and interviewed administrators, teachers, students, and school board members. The strategic planning process is in the beginning stages and will continue over eight to 10 months.
Russ’s maintenance report mentioned that Roanoke Valley Sprinkler, ServPro, and the maintenance department completed repairs and cleaning at Colonial Elementary School due to water released from the activation of a single fire sprinkler. McNeil Roofing completed roof patching at James River High School.
Russ and Davidick commended Andy Dewease, the maintenance department, and Botetourt Fire & EMS’s quick actions.
The maintenance department replaced several faucets at Buchanan Elementary and vent pipes at Greenfield Elementary in the restroom and kitchen areas. Additionally, the maintenance department repaired the bleachers and a basketball goal at Lord Botetourt High School.
Russ mentioned that the technology department was granted $380,100 through the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program. The funds will be used to replace teacher and student Chromebooks that are reaching the end of life and will no longer receive updates.
The board successfully submitted the fall Master Schedule Collection Report to VDOE. The report complies with federal requirements in which the school division must show course-enrollment data linking courses taught to teacher qualifications.
The board provided the list of the holidays provided for full-time contracted personnel. Martin Luther King Jr. Day would be designated as a holiday, and three days during spring break set as holidays. The list could return next month as an action item, if necessary.
To watch last week’s BCPS School Board meeting in its entirety, visit bcps.live/archives.