By Matt de Simone
The Botetourt County Public Schools (BCPS) School Board met last Thursday in Fincastle at the central administration office. Chairman Anna Weddle and Vice-Chair Dana McCaleb were re-appointed to their respective positions. Additionally, the board appointed LuAnn Delosreyes as clerk and Cathy Quinn as deputy clerk.
The board announced that School Board meetings would continue to occur on the second Thursday every month at 5:30 p.m.
Public comments saw two individuals address the mask mandates in schools.
Superintendent Dr. John Russ made a statement about the recent changes in student vaccinations and isolation mandates. The board approved the proposed updated mitigation strategy recently implemented by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH). This new strategy will cut down on quarantine and isolation time.
“(The new strategy) is going to be some legwork for our school nurses and administrators, but it gets kids back in the buildings, and that’s been our focus the entire time,” Russ stated.
Russ presented his monthly report. He addressed the current budget and finances, speaking about the governor’s initial budget proposal that has been made public, and the Virginia Department of Education has issued a calculation tool. The finance department evaluates the device and calculates budget scenarios per the superintendent’s plan for the upcoming budget.
The human resources department is preparing for upcoming job fairs, including the WVPEC Job Fair scheduled for January 29 from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Salem Civic Center.
Annual retirement informational sessions have been scheduled for BCPS employees on January 12 and 19 at 6 p.m. at Read Mountain and Central Academy. Any employee considering retirement in the next several years is encouraged to attend one of the sessions.
The human resources department completed the fall submission of the Positions and Exits Collection. The information is used to identify and report critical shortages by geographic area, school division, and subject matter.
School divisions must make an unduplicated count of students with disabilities receiving special education on December 1 of each school year.
The board submitted the BCPS December 1 Child Count Report to the Virginia Department of Education on time.
Russ’s instructional focus mentioned Title I teachers and PALS tutors recently participated in Specialized Program Individualizing Reading Excellence (SPIRE) training. SPIRE is an intensive reading intervention program for nonreaders and struggling readers, available in both print and digital formats. Instructors will use this program with students in kindergarten, first grade, and second grade who need supplemental reading instruction.
Two high school teachers are participating in a Virginia Department of Education pilot to vet state-developed performance tasks in World History l. The vetting process will ensure the tasks are appropriate for anticipated use in verifying credit beginning in the 2022-2023 school year, pending approval by the Virginia Board of Education.
The 2022 high school summer session planning will follow the design of the 2021 summer session and include expanded class offerings. Class offerings will be based on identified needs and those courses necessary to complete graduation requirements. Ninth grade health/physical education and tenth grade health/physical education/driver education will be offered as new courses again in partnership with the YMCA.
The maintenance and operations portion of the report saw Russ speak about the Western Virginia Water Authority installing sodium hydroxide and orthophosphate feed equipment to the school water treatment facility at Eagle Rock Elementary. Maintenance staff completed roof patching at Buchanan Elementary and worked on sewer backups at Cloverdale Elementary and Lord Botetourt High School.
Technicians have provided support for SOL testing and replaced elementary proctor caching computers used for SOL testing in all elementary schools. Also, they are verifying inventory for all interactive boards and panels, particularly those approaching the end of service.
Lastly, Russ spoke about the fall Master Schedule Collection Report submitted to the Virginia Department of Education. This collection is required to meet the federal reporting requirements. It includes data used with the Student Enrollment Demographics Form Report and the Instructional Personnel and Verification of Licensure Endorsement Report.
To watch the January meeting in its entirety, please visit bcps.live/archives.