At the April Craig County School Board meeting, there were many subjects to address for the evening.
Superintendent Jeanette Warwick announced the names of the Craig County students who participated in the 2023 Roanoke Valley Governor School Project Forum.
Certificates were awarded to these students as they were recognized.
- Craig Isaac Morris for his participation in the forum
- Shawn Cady for placing first in Systems Software Python One-time CAD encryption, which is an easy-to-use Python library for building parametric 3D CAD models
- Tyler VanDyke and took first place Systems Software for Assimilation Experience as well third place in the Western Virginia Science Fair in the Region. Tyler explained Warwick shared that Tyler was in preschool and that it made her “so proud to know that the child in Ms. VanDyke’s preschool class is doing some great things and is already accepted into Virginia Tech. It is a very humbling experience for me and makes me very proud of you.” Tyler demonstrated his arm gauntlet that he stated is a “martial arts simulator that recognizes certain moves based on color filtration. His prototype 2 was what he presented at regional, stating that it is “more user friendly and recognizes another move of his strikes, using 150 lights of code.
Much discussion was noted on the driver’s education program, having a parent and student representative to address the board. The board is working diligently to find a person to do the behind the wheel education.
Warwick shared that the current budget is based on the governor’s version, which is the most conservative. It is based on a total enrollment of 434 students. She spoke of the decline of students in most school districts.
“The budget is still being tweaked from the county administrators meeting and decisions made earlier this month, however the Board of Supervisors are scheduled to approve the final budget on May 4, at their monthly meeting,” Warwick said. “Once they approve their budget, we will come back to our May meeting and adjust our budget according to their final allocations.”
Warwick shared the variables in the budget, including a five percent salary increase. She added that the insurance premiums went up nine percent overall in the division, adding that they are currently obtaining a quote from a comparable insurance company.
“If this is comparable and will save our employees money, we wish to look at that avenue,” Warwick said. “We know that our employees do not want less coverage.”
It was shared that some staffing reductions will take place, as some positions did not need to be filled and some due to funding.
Also, they will be combining some of the shorter town routes and not replacing the bus driver that will be retiring. Retiring staff and vacated positions will not be replaced due to student enrollment.
Warwick showed the breakdown of the incentive programs that require a local financial match to be able to access the funds of several possible monies to be available for CCPS.
One example was a requirement of the Compensation Supplement. “We have to contribute $145,000.24 from our local budget or we cannot use the supplement money of $286,000 of the state share,” she said.
Warwick also went over other supplement options.
Representative Darren Gilreth asked the question, “If we are unable to provide enough bus drivers now, why are we not hiring another bus driver?”
Warwick shared that they have all the school transportation bus routes filled, however they lack bus drivers that are willing to run extra-curricular routes.
The school has approached the coaches, asking if they would like to obtain the Class B CDL license, whom their employee, Mr. Crowder who has been training the bus drivers for eight years, including the classes and training.
Land Lab students updated the board with all of their competitions they have entered and winning top places. They added that they received first place at Va. Tech in the meat competition.
They have also been doing activities with the McCleary Elementary students and other events, including having a small petting zoo at their last school event.
The Land Lab students shared that they had a baked potato bar for the teachers to show their appreciation.
They sold three cows and will be getting more this month. Their newest little one is called Ruby and it was said that she “likes her bottle.”
The Land Lab students were excited to share that they received a $10,000 grant that will help them to bring their dreams and visions into fruition a little earlier than planned.
They invited everyone to their Land Lab Fair which will be on May 6 with over 50 vendors already registered.
Warwick shared that she was so proud of all the work the teacher, Emily Nolen, along with many others who have done, to not only get the Land Lab up and going but seeing everyone “continuing to move it forward”.
It was reported that Craig County EMS trained the schools bus and car drivers and other facility and maintenance crew in CPR, and First Aid. They will be training the staff in August along with a Stop the Bleed training.
Chairman Trace Bellassai inquired about getting teachers certified as instructors. Warwick shared they are currently checking on the cost and programs.
Student board member, Randalyn, inquired about getting the Community and Emergency Response Team, CERT program started again in the school.
A new science program is being purchased for the elementary school to help further the children’s education.
The board discussed the children’s absenteeism guidelines. Warwick reported that regardless of why a child is absent whether sick, broken leg or covid, if they miss 18 days, they are flagged as being chronically absent which is a Virginia Department of Education issue.
“Everyone is trying to lobby the state to try to change that,” Warwick said. “This is a part of our accreditation rating. But right now, it is a flaw in the reporting system, and we cannot do anything else right now.”
She noted that in speaking with other district superintendents, that all gave their same responses.
Principal Susan Stimeling reported that they have a Student Support Committee.
“At five unexcused absences, I send a letter and then at 10 unexcused absences we request a conference with the parent and make a plan she said. “If the unexcused absences continue, then the control will have to be given to someone else. We are learning ways to get the students more involved.”
Stimeling shared that she is looking forward to seeing the results at the end of the year as she feels the students are doing much better with their new protocol.
Principal Horton shared that at McCleary, she was able to identify about 22 students who could be considered chronically absent.
“I put together the data from the state report and 50% of these students unexcused absences had decreased. I do feel like it is working though it is slow and steady,” she said. “We also have a plan for these students, as our school counselors check in with the students and some of them mentioned they like to play basketball before school, so we are trying to create ideas of positive motivation instead of relying on just letters and threats.”
Principal VanDyke added, “The DOE complimented us on the decrease that they have seen.”
Also reported was that they looked at all the students from grades nine through 12 and identified any students that needed attendance, grade support, or in need of a mentor and recommended those students for the new “Engage” program the state has provided.
Maintenance Director Shane Gills shared,
- The auditorium is being completed and the students and teachers are very excited about this.
- Waco was working on water lines and installing a new breaker, all completed over spring break.
- Locker rooms are being revamped and a new sprinkler system is being installed.
- The gym is being scheduled for it to be completed by the start of the school year.
- The new paint is LEED, which they use in nursing homes which are eco-friendly.
Bathroom destruction was discussed, and it was reported that there has been less. They also reported that the VAPE sensor is working great. New stall doors are being ordered.
The next school board meeting will be in May and the community is encouraged to attend or watch online.