An anti-bullying program will be developed and put in place in the Rappahannock County public schools by the end of January.
It was proposed by Superintendent Aldridge A. Boone, who said the program met with “great success” in the Appomattox school system that he headed before coming to Rappahannock this year.
The proposal was approved by the Rappahannock Board of Education at its meeting Tuesday.
The school system will be utilizing the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program developed by the Institute on Family and Neighborhood Life at Clemson University. It is named for Dan Olweus, acknowledged as a pioneer researcher in the field of bullying.
Rappahannock is paying $3,700 over two years to develop and implement the program. The cost covers the training of school staff, travel expenses for Olweus staff, program materials and surveys, Boone said.
“It is a comprehensive program — it’s not just for a few weeks. It will be a coordinated effort by all members of the school community from custodians up to the superintendent,” Boone said.
He said after the meeting surveys to be conducted will determine the extent of the bullying problem in the Rappahannock schools.
He said during the meeting that bullying is a problem that every school division faces. “I’ve come to realize that people have their heads in the sand as far as bullying is concerned. All schools have bullying.” It is a problem that “doesn’t go away by happenstance. You have to involve the community and the schoolchildren.”
The program will cover how to identify instances of bullying and how to deal with it. Each of the schools in the county will have a committee focused on the issue and Rappahannock teacher Karen Sanborn will oversee the overall program.
Boone said students will be challenged to develop an anti-bullying slogan. A prize will be awarded to the winner chosen. There will also be a logo along the lines of “Panthers Don’t Bully.”
State of the schools: Oct. 21
In other business, Boone noted that he will be delivering a “State of the Schools” address at 6 p.m. Oct. 21 in the high school auditorium. He said he expects there will be time for a “brief” question and answer period.
Boone said he hopes to have the annual school report ready by that time.
Under personnel matters, the superintendent told the board that Anna Garcia, administrative assistant at Headwaters, will be joining the school system as a human resources specialist and grant writer. Her start date is Oct. 18.
Boone also informed the board that a bus route is being restored to serve riders in Amissville. There used to be three routes there but one was eliminated over a year ago. Restoring it will relieve overcrowding that never reached the level of being a safety issue, the superintendent said.
Adding the route means an additional fuel expense of just over $4,000 for the year. A driver for the route is already on staff so an additional bus driver hire isn’t needed, Boone said.
The route was expected to be in service today (Thursday, Oct. 14) and the affected parents were being notified.
The board also approved contracts with the lowest bidders to supply diesel, fuel oil and propane. The names of the winning bidders weren’t immediately released. They will be once they are notified.
The next board meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 9.