School is out for the summer, but teachers and local Board members are working diligently to prepare for the upcoming school year, which is right around the corner.
At their monthly meeting on July 2, many important matters had to be discussed and finalized.
Craig County Public Schools (CCPS) chose their mission/vision statement to be, “Every child a Graduate, Every Child Prepared for Life.” Superintendent Jeanette Warwick emphasized that their goal is always to have every child graduate and that starts when they are in kindergarten.
All members were present, including: Chairman and Craig City Representative Pat Myers, Superintendent Jeanette Warwick, Vice Chair and Representative for Craig City Susan Crenshaw, Gina Smith – Simmonsville, Faye Powers – Potts Mountain, George Foster – New Castle and Diana Bayne – Deputy Clerk of the School Board.
Warwick also shared with the Board, the Capital Improvement Plan and the purpose and expenditures of each category. Board discussion brought the approval of each.
The decision was made to approve the painting of the McCleary Elementary rooms but wait on the middle and high schools until a later date. The elementary teachers had already cleared their walls of things in hopes that this would take place over the summer.
“McCleary needs the painting now,” Warwick said. “We can strike off the middle and high school for now, as I had the contractors to quote the schools individually.”
The decision to add window film was made to the cafeteria as an effort to provide a mirror so people cannot just look straight in and see the students. “It is much more economical to do this. It will help with the heat and cooling and provide a safer place for our students,” Warwick added.
It was also noted that they would start saving money to remodel the auditorium.
The handbooks for the students, staff, coaching and athletic departments were reviewed and approved too.
The sealant for the parking lots was postponed for one year, per Adams Construction Company suggestion. The bid was $30,000.
Much discussion was made over the rules of exam exemptions and SOL testing which the State changed.
Explained Sam Foster, the Director of Instruction and Technology, “If a student does not need the test, then they can no longer take it. Students doing standard diplomas, having to take particular SOL exams, had no incentive to do well, as they did not need it to graduate though it affected the school for accreditation.”
Foster also explained how the new laws affected the decisions of how CCPS and school systems tested. “For graduation purposes, if a student wants to graduate, they have to pass their SOL tests. If a high school student does not do the SOL tests, they will not graduate. The law now states that they have to pass five SOL’s to graduate.”
Smith alluded to how the main purpose of having the exam exemptions was to encourage the students who were taking the SOL’s to do well on them. “It gives the students an incentive to make good grades,” she said.
Currently at the high school level, all freshmen take math, sophomores take biology and juniors take reading.
“Middle school has been exempted from exams completely. Sixth and seventh graders do not need an exam and the eighth and ninth graders take five SOL’s, so they are tested out,” Foster mentioned before adding, “our decision is to have all students take a final exam with no exemptions, regardless of their grade point average.”
Smith is concerned about taking away the incentive, noting that there are other awards such as athletic but now there will be no academic awards for those students who strive to make better grades.
George Foster brought up the ‘search and seizure’ policy. To which Warwick said, “In most cases, we call the sheriff’s office if there is suspicion of a dangerous firearm or drugs. It is mainly for safety of our students.”
Lunch prices changed for the year. “We invite all parents and guardians to come and have lunch with their children, but now, all others must have administration approval,” Warwick said.
The dress code for girls was decided to be ‘mid-thigh’ to be appropriate. Principal Melissa Whiting said that they chose this measurement as CCPS sends students to Botetourt school which has the same policy. “We felt like they should have the same dress code at both places,” she noted.
Principal Whiting also explained that it was easier to visually assess the measurement of ‘mid-thigh’ verses placing an index card at their knee.
No longer will any tobacco, nicotine or vapor of any kind be allowed on the premises, including the athletic games. “We used to be able to designate a smoking area and we are no longer allowed to do this,” Whiting said.
Warwick noted that it also includes employees. “At most all other schools, they have already adopted this procedure. All departments will be informed,” she said.
The cell phone possession policy has been changed to be from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
The Board wished to have an open discussion of the paid time off verses personal leave.
“Our concern is to ensure that instruction is not impacted,” Warwick said. “When someone takes a full week off during a school year, that does impact instruction.”
She shared that in polling the neighboring divisions, she couldn’t find anyone in Virginia that is doing a PTO time, only sick and personal days. After much discussion, the Board voted to add a personal day to the current policy.
Open House is scheduled for Tuesday, August 6, from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m. All parents and guardians are encouraged to bring their child.
The first day of school is scheduled for Thursday, August 8.
The next School Board meeting will be on Tuesday, August 6, at 6:30 p.m. in the Media Center. All Craig residents are encouraged to attend to support the students and school staff in Craig County.