Familiar faces will be seen in new jobs in the administration of the Rappahannock County Public Schools.
The shuffle comes after Dr. Becky Greer, assistant superintendent of schools, left to become superintendent of schools in Radford, Va., as of Sept. 1.
Instead of filling that post, new superintendent of schools Aldridge Boone elected to split her duties and reorganize the staff, as he announced to both the county Board of Supervisors last week and the School Board at its meeting Tuesday night (Sept. 14) at the high school.
Carol Johnson, formerly principal of Rappahannock County Elementary School, becomes director of special education.
She replaces Mike Tupper in that position, and Tupper becomes the director of instruction, staff development and testing.
Cathy Jones, now assistant principal of the elementary school, becomes principal. Boone also decided to eliminate the position of assistant principal at the elementary school, and the school board approved Tuesday his promotion of Amy Gubler to the post of administrative assistant at the school.
The new appointments went into effect Wednesday (Sept. 15).
“I had a choice of filling her [Greer’s] position or reorganize and I chose to reorganize,” Boone told the supervisors on Sept. 8 during the “About Our Schools” portion of the board’s meeting.
Of Greer, Boone told the supervisors, “she had expressed her interest in being a superintendent.” Her departure “wasn’t a question of if but when,” he said. “I got started planning.”
His decision to in effect do away with the assistant superintendent’s position is “not a criticism” of the way the job was performed but “just a way of doing business. I think I have a good feel for the people” on the staff and their abilities. “I knew I had quality people to fill those positions.”
The shuffle eliminates advertising the position of assistant superintendent and the time it would take to fill it.
“I anticipate a cost savings” though “I have to hire a couple more people,” Boone said, including a human resources specialist who will also work to seek out grants for the school system. The grants position is new, though there was money in the budget for it, the superintendent said.
“The biggest obstacle has been the time to write (applications) and administer the grants,” Boone said. “We need a dedicated person for it.”
Obtaining grants will not only bring new resources of revenue to the school system but can also be used to foster community partnerships, the superintendent said. He hopes to have an HR specialist/grant writer on board by mid-October.
Boone also informed the county supervisors that the school system had 924 students enrolled at the start of the current school year in August, slightly more than the 917 the school budget is based on.
He said the state will adjust its funding of local districts on March 31 based on the ADM — the Average Daily Membership. More money could be forthcoming from the state at that time though it is not a “dollar for dollar” proposition, Boone said.
In other action, the school board Tuesday approved plans for the Young Garden, named for longtime contributors Mitzi and the late Bill Young — made possible in large measure by a recent $95,000 donation made by Mitzi Young to the Headwaters Foundation and designated to be used for Headwaters’ Farm-to-Table and related programs at the elementary and high schools.
The Young Garden will be built in the elementary school courtyard, and features study areas, shade trees and a pond. The board presented awards of appreciation to Young, the Rappahannock Farm Bureau and the Laphams of the Farm at Sunnyside for their support of the Farm-to-Table, food and nutrition programs at the schools.
Boone told the school board that the committee of volunteers and Headwaters board members who surveyed parents about whether they’d use an after-school activities program found that more than 300 parents said they would.
“We cannot fund, at this point, such a large group,” Boone said, “but we can at least move forward.”
While Headwaters and committee leader Philip Strange work on plans to raise funds for the program — which will most likely start out in the elementary school’s multipurpose room, to be offered rent-free to house the program — the school division can provide planning help, Boone said.
The program will most likely begin with two-and-a-half-hour sessions on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, for which Headwaters has said parents would pay $45 per semester per child.
Boone estimated that 75 percent of the cost of the program will have to come from funds raised in the community by Headwaters.
In other action, the school board also decided, on Boone’s recommendation, to drastically alter operation of the RappFit center — two exercise-equipment rooms at the high school shared by students and, after school, by members of the public. The operation, Boone said, had run up a deficit of almost $31,000, primarily the cost of hiring staff for the hours it was open to the public.
“It should cease to be a membership facility,” Boone said. “When we looked into what it would cost to buy out the remaining unexpired members, I thought it might be $4,000 or $5,000 — but it was $115.”
The board agreed to refund the outstanding $115 in already paid membership fees, and to follow Boone’s recommendation that: public hours be reduced to 4 to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday; the high school schedule staff, already salaried, to run the center; and that public use be free to all members of the community.