Community urged to participate in search for school superintendent

Jackie Nunnery

by Jackie Nunnery

LANCASTER—School board chairman Joan Gravatt on Monday, August 8, announced that the search for a new school superintendent has begun.

“Leadership of our schools is a very important component to the ongoing success of our students, teachers and staff,” said Gravatt. “We feel the selection process should be inclusive and reflect the thoughts and concerns of the entire community.”

Gravatt urged everyone to complete a survey at Paper copies are available at each school or the school board office.

Meanwhile, acting superintendent Jessica Davis told the board a ribbon cutting for the Early Childhood Education Center will take place on Wednesday, August 17. A community open house is scheduled for September 18, so “anyone in the community can get in and see what we’ve been talking about.” Although work remains on the playground, “it’s beautiful and everyone needs to see it,” said Davis.

She noted Heather Evans has resigned as pre-school administrator, but will work to ensure a smooth transition while the search for a replacement continues.

Davis said there are six open teaching positions remaining and the administration is “getting creative” with class sizes and schedules in order to ensure that students are getting what they need.

To ensure student and staff safety, the division is offering “every single staff member” a four-hour training session called Civilian Response and Casualty Care, developed by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), said Davis. The course, according to the DCJS website, “provides strategies, guidance and a proven plan for surviving an active shooter event.”

First grade teacher Stephanie Slack reported a positive experience shared by her and 11 other Lancaster teachers who attended the Southern Regional Education Board’s Making School Work Conference in July. Slack said, “There was so much to take in” during the four-day conference but she found there were many ideas “that we as a county are already doing successfully.” Slack said teachers will share ideas at their schools through professional development.

During public comments, Kilmarnock Town Council member Rebecca Nunn and Kilmarnock Museum president Carroll Lee Ashburn requested a permanent home for the new Star Wall, suggesting it could be at either the existing school auditorium or the new middle/high school auditorium once it is completed. Ashburn said 26 community members from Lancaster and Northumberland counties who have gone on to excel in performing arts will be inducted at an October 16 event.

In a 5-0 vote, the board approved a revised crisis plan to include pandemic guidelines.

In a 4-1 vote, the board approved Virginia School Board policy guidelines to include a provision that members can participate electronically in no more than 25% of meetings. Kenya Moody voted against the measure because rising COVID-19 cases may make virtual attendance more prevalent. The board unanimously approved the same policies but omitted language regarding 4H requirements since the division does not have a 4H program.