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 Botetourt County students in the Roanoke Valley Governor’s School Project Forum.
Claire Dozier and Anna Frittman of Lord Botetourt High School took the second-place award in Cellular and Molecular Biology for their project “Is it Tuna? A Comparison of DNA Degradation in Various Thunnini Preparations.”
James Voight of James River High School won first place honors in Engineering Mechanics B for his Tennis Ball Collector project.
Ryan Cooper and Andres Hernandez of Lord Botetourt took the second-place prize in Engineering Mechanics C for their Soil Moisture and Temperature Probe. In the same category, Sydney Vokus of Lord Botetourt took home first place honors for her “Rotating Weekly Pill Dispenser 2.0”.
In Microbiology A, Lord Botetourt’s Kalob Daniels and Kane Reczek won the second-place award for “The Effect of Essential Oil of Origanum vulgare on Gram-positive and Gram-negative Bacteria. (MI-A 1)” Additionally, Laila Alam and Raimee Sykes of Lord Botetourt took second place in the same category for “A Comparison of Cinnamon Bark and Cinnamon Leaf Essential Oils on the Growth of Escherichia coli (MI-A 4).”
Seth Richards of Lord Botetourt earned a first-place award for his work on “The Effect of AtUNC-93 Gene on Abiotic Stress Response in Arabidopsis thaliana” in the Plant Sciences B category.
The Plant Sciences C category saw Kaeli Berry of James River and Brett Smith of Lord Botetourt take first place in their project, “The Synergistic Allelopathic Effect of A. archangelica and F. oxysporum on the Germination & Growth of on S. lycopersicum.”
James River’sRiver’s Carter Baka-Collins won first place for “The Use of Python in Encryption Testing for Cybersecurity (SS-A 2)” in the Systems Software A category.
The board recognized student-athletes consisting of James River High School state champion wrestlers Craig Bowyer (120 lbs.), Chase Cuddy (126 lbs.), Carter Miller (195 lbs.), and James River swim team’s efforts in the recent state championship swim meet.
The public comments saw a Cloverdale school bus driver ask for pay raises for drivers county-wide. The man asked the board to consider making proper adjustments to meet bus drivers’ wages in surrounding school districts.
Last month, BCPS Director of Operations Andy Dewease informed the board that the department secured the services of Hurt and Profitt to conduct a moisture and mold study at Lord Botetourt High School. Greg Witt of Hurt and Profitt presented the recent moisture and mold inspection at Lord Botetourt High School, which showed their findings in a slide presentation. Witt stated the results saw water-stained ceiling tiles, issues with pipe insulation, and water-stained HVAC chiller lines with mold growth on coils.
Witt noted not every HVAC system needs cleaning, and their findings were expected when looking through a facility as old as Lord Botetourt. He recommended remediation in specific areas of the school, including the handicap area of the girls’ locker room, the auditorium foyer, and particular classrooms.
The board heard the first reading of the 2022-23 school budget from Director of Finance Brandon Lee. Currently, the finance department awaits a decision from Governor Youngkin on what the final number will be. Still, Lee thinks the House proposal of $1.36 million keeps the county in a safe position and a good starting point to build the final budget proposal.
Russ provided the first-read changes to policy JL-Fundraising and Solicitation and the Virginia School Boards Association (VSBA) February 2022 policy updates. All policies are available on the BCPS School Boards BoardDocs page under the policies tab (https://go.boarddocs.com/vsba/bcps/Board.nsf/Public).
Russ presented his Superintendent’s update for the month of March.
The board held budget work sessions on February 17 and March 8 with Board of Supervisors members in attendance.
The budget and finance department continues to monitor the general assembly for the final preparation of the FY23 budget. The board of supervisors appropriated two grants for the school division at the February 22 meeting.
National School Counselors’ Week was February 7-11. The central office and schools celebrated school counselors throughout the week and their contributions to schools, children, and families. Additionally, school social workers are being celebrated in the same manner this week for National School Social Work Week.
The special education advisory committee held an informational session on February 15 regarding extended school year services versus summer school. Both services explained the differences between each program, including eligibility criteria for extended school year services for special education students.
The human resources department participated in the Radford University Career Fair on February 28 and the Roanoke College Education Job Fair on March 8.
The new Virginia Alternate Assessment Program (VAAP) administration begins this month. The previous portfolio-based VAAP was replaced with a new multiple-choice assessment in the content areas of reading, mathematics, and science. Teachers, testing coordinators, and school administrators have prepared students for the new assessment.
In February, county students completed the Roanoke Valley Governor’s School (RVGS) application process. Botetourt County will invite seven new students to attend RVGS in the 2022-23 school year. Notification letters will be mailed on March 21.
The second semester transportation safety meeting for bus drivers and other CDL holders was held on February 15 at Central Academy Middle School.
The maintenance staff repaired sewer lines at Troutville Elementary, Cloverdale Elementary, Read Mountain Middle School, and Lord Botetourt High School. The maintenance department replaced several faucets at James River High School and replaced a broken water line at Lord Botetourt High School.
McNeil Roofing patched several sections of the roof at Buchanan Elementary. Smart Mouth pizzas are now available to students at Read Mountain Middle School and soon at Central Academy Middle School. The pizzas are delicious and meet the nutritional guidelines set by the USDA.
Technicians recorded bus driver training held on February 15 at Central Academy Middle School. Additionally, technicians updated computers with the newest TestNav version to prepare for VAAP and upcoming SOL testing.
The 2020-21 Civil Rights Data Collection data was collected and aggregated. The federal report provides leading civil rights indicators related to access and barriers to an educational opportunity from preschool through twelfth grade.
The maintenance department replaced the analog cameras at Read Mountain Middle School and James River High School. Additionally, the department replaced a Power over Ethernet (PoE) switch at James River. PoE switches are used to power some of the phones at James River.
Leah Stevenson made a presentation on the BCPS Virtual Academy highlighting some of the benefits the Virtual Academy provided for Botetourt County students.
To watch March’s BCPS School Board meeting in its entirety, please visit bcps.live/archives.