10-19-05

 MINUTES

CALLED MEETING OF THE ALLEGHANY COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD
October 19, 2005
C.E. Darnell Conference Room at Jackson River Technical Center
 

The Alleghany County School Board and the Covington City School Board met to discuss possible joint services or merged operations of school divisions.

PRESENT: R. Joe Anderson; Wayne Botkins, Vice-Chairman; H. Hunter Fridley; Robert A. Fridley; David W. Halsey; Randall S. Tucker; and Michael L. Whitehead, Chairman.  Also present:  Robert P. Grimesey, Superintendent and Ingrid W. Barber, Deputy Clerk

ABSENT:  None

The called meeting was called to order at 6:00 p.m.  The call to order was followed by a moment of silence and the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.

SUPERINTENDENT’S REPORTS & RECOMMENDATIONS

(06-105) Updates from Board members and the Superintendent concerning work that has been done in response to community interest in possible joint services or merged operations of school divisions.

Mr. Whitehead stated that it was a privilege and honor to sit in the meeting with the members of both boards.  He affirmed that the professionalism and dedication of both boards, and their love for the children in both communities were a blessing to all parents.  Mr. Whitehead said that during a school board work session with the Alleghany County Board of Supervisors last spring, he was given the green light to pursue the Covington City School Board regarding the possible consolidation of schools.  After three meetings with both chairs, vice-chairs, and superintendents, Mr. Whitehead stated that all parties involved agreed that something needed to be done. 

Mr. Jay Woodson, Chairman of the Covington City School Board, thanked Mr. Whitehead for the kind words and good conversations in the past.  He stated that all members of the Covington City School Board were willing to discuss possibilities of a jointly operated or a consolidated school system.  He said that both boards wanted to provide the best educational opportunities for the children in the community.  Mr. Woodson stated that the challenge was to look at the economically feasible ways of addressing the issue.  Mr. Woodson discussed some research about how school facilities impacted learning environments and student achievement.  He also concluded that the challenge remains with both local governments’ abilities to appropriate the funds to meet school construction projects.  He said the purpose for the meeting was to discuss the possibility of a state school efficiency review which would analyze: (a.) how the school divisions could function more efficiently even if they remain independent; (b.) how the two school divisions could increase efficiency further through expanded joint operations; and (c.) how the school divisions might increase state funding and improve efficiency even further through complete consolidation.  He recommended that no decisions be made until the school efficiency reviews were completed. 

Mr. Eddie Graham, Superintendent of Covington City Public Schools, reviewed the current jointly operated programs that are shared by both school divisions.  These programs include:

1. High school occupational and technical training programs at Jackson River Technical Center;

2. Adult education programs at Jackson River Technical Center;

3. The alternative education program at Jackson River Technical Center;

4. Information technology services at Jackson river Technical Center;

5. Truancy enforcement services;

6. The Alleghany Highlands School Health Consortium, better known as the school nurse program;

7. The Jackson River Governor’s School at Dabney S. Lancaster Community College;

8. A shared pool of substitute teachers; and

9. Flexible procedures for non-resident student enrollment and transfer between the two school divisions.
                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                                                                 ATTACHMENT I

Dr. Robert Grimesey distributed and reviewed a handout that displayed options for school division mergers.  He explained the substantial differences between a jointly operated and a fully consolidated school division.  Dr. Grimesey said it was important to educate the public about the difference.    He encouraged board members to review past reports associated with school consolidation in the Alleghany Highlands, including a 1991 report submitted by Dr. Wayne Worner of Virginia Tech, and a 1997 study conducted by Dr. David Alexander and associates of Virginia Tech.  Dr. Grimesey provided a copy of the executive summary of the report published by Alexander and Associates.  He noted that the report was one of several that contributed to the eventual decision by Clifton Forge and Alleghany County to proceed with full consolidation.

 (06-106) Authorization to participate in joint Covington City-Alleghany County School Divisions efficiency study with Virginia
                  Department of Planning and Budget

Mr. Graham provided a copy of a page from the web site of the Virginia Department of Education (DOE) that explained Governor Mark R. Warner’s “Education for a Lifetime” initiative.  He directed school board members’ attention to a section that explained school efficiency reviews.  He stated that the purpose of the audits was to identify savings and best practices within school divisions.  He stated that copies of other school efficiency studies were available on the DOE’s website.  Mr. Graham said he and Dr. Grimesey were proposing that both boards authorize the superintendents to work with the Department of Planning and Budget (DPP) and the Governor’s office to conduct school efficiency reviews for both school divisions.  He noted that DPP estimated the cost of the study would be $200,000 and that the superintendents’ most recent conversations with representatives from the DPP and the Governor’s staff indicated that there was a great likelihood that the entire cost would be covered by the state.  Mr. Graham concluded that the review would require that the school divisions fulfill at least 50% of the recommendations.  Failure to do so would require the localities to reimbursement 25% of the cost of the study, he said.

Dr. Grimesey stated that he had spoken with other superintendents regarding their experiences with past efficiency audits, and the superintendents felt that the audits were worthwhile experiences.  He added that the DPP and Governor Warner’s staff have indicated great interest in finding a year-end supplemental appropriation to support the implementation of a joint efficiency review of the Covington and Alleghany County school divisions.

          MOTION:  That the Covington City and Alleghany County school divisions authorize their superintendents to implement
                             a joint efficiency study with the Virginia Department of Planning and Budget contingent on the availability
                             of state
funding.           
                        MOTION:  Mr. Botkins                         
                        SECOND:  Mr. Tucker
                        VOTE:     Unanimous                                                               

OTHER BUSINESS

 (06-107) December 5, 2005 Joint Legislative Committee

Dr. Grimesey explained that Senator Creigh Deeds and Delegate Jim Schuler would not be available for the December 5, 2005 joint legislative meeting.  He recommended the possibility of changing the meeting to another date.  He was instructed by board members to pursue an alternative date.

 ADJOURNMENT

         MOTION:  That the called joint meeting of the Covington City and Alleghany County school boards be adjourned.
                       MOTION:  Mr. Hunter Fridley                             
                       SECOND:  Mr. Tucker
                       VOTE:     Unanimous
                       TIME:      7:06 p.m.