School Board launches new academic year

The Rappahannock County Public Schools (RCPS) School Board’s Aug. 10 meeting signaled the seamless start of a new school year with both a new superintendent and a new high school principal.

“Rappahannock County is a wonderful place to live and raise a child,” said Dr. Aldridge A. Boone, the new superintendent, in a prepared statement. “Our primary goal is to ensure that each child in our community is afforded the opportunity to learn, grow and realize his/her dreams in a safe environment wholly conducive to teaching and learning.”

Items on the agenda included negotiations with AT&T about the construction of a Cingular cell tower on school property. In exchange, the school system would receive not only cash rental payments but also possibly free broadband.

Also discussed were school safety issues, for both staff and students. The new high school principal, Robert Stump, recommended that, rather than focusing on employing guards or constructing barriers, priority should be given to fostering a sense of community whereby everybody looks after everybody else.

This sentiment tied in with the theme of “Relationships Matter,” which Boone said would “connect our entire school community to our school division.”

One of the public schools’ strongest individual community supporters, Bill Dietel, was in the audience as he had been a month earlier and thanked the board for responding to his earlier request that microphones be used at board meetings, so that the audience could more easily follow the proceedings.

Dietel also “saluted” efforts to make the formats for the board agenda more useful. But he suggested that current board agendas are perhaps too similar to business meetings and that, instead, discussion of academics should always be front and center.

To help facilitate school board governance, Dietel also lauded the July 28 strategic planning and policy retreat for board members. If necessary, he said, he or perhaps other individuals in the community would personally help meet the costs of similar planning sessions in the future.

“Citizens want you to succeed,” Dietel announced in the “public comments” portion of the meeting.

In other business, Dr. Becky Greer, assistant superintendent, announced that Rappahannock schools, in partnership with Frederick County schools, were one of only 124 schools total around the country to receive a federal grant for “Teaching America History.”

In other business, the board approved contracts for cafeteria services and repairs to the road and drain system.

In a festive opening ceremony, the Piedmont Caledonia Pipes and Drums played two rousing numbers to the appreciative applause of board members, school employees and interested citizens.

Orientation for new students will be held on Aug. 18, at the high school — 6:30 p.m. for kindergarten and 7 p.m. for eighth grade students. The annual “Taste of Rappahannock” will be held Sept. 11 by Headwaters to raise monies for the schools.