Further support voiced for Boone

At its monthly meeting Tuesday (Dec. 11), the Rappahannock County School Board heard more citizen support for current superintendent Aldridge Boone, whose two-year contract expires next June 30.

Parent Linda Petty, of the Jackson district, began the public comment period by noting how pleased she was to see so many parents at the meeting and proceeded praise Boone for his problem-solving abilities.

“He’s very good at identifying problems and putting the right people on them,” Petty said. She cited his appointment of Trista Grigsby, the new director of nutrition services at Rappahannock County Public Schools. Petty said her child experienced a severe allergic reaction to peanuts from the school lunches one time, and prior to Trista’s appointment, Petty said the cafeteria staff couldn’t comfortably guarantee her daughter wouldn’t come into further contact with peanuts.

“Trista walked me through the [food preparation] process,” Petty continued. “And now the food is just better . . . I’m afraid Dr. Boone will start looking elsewhere if we don’t ask him to stay soon.”

Janet Davis, owner of Hill House Native Plants and Nursery and parent of a second-grader, echoed Petty’s thoughts. Davis, who also voiced her support of Boone at last month’s meeting, said she appreciated Boone’s foresight in making long-term changes to the school, and said she believed that continuity of leadership is important in a school system.

Headwaters executive director Jane Bowling-Wilson spoke next, and began by thanking the school board for its hard work in striving to benefit the children.

“It’s an often thankless job,” she noted. Wilson then spoke about Boone’s support for Headwaters’ ventures, including Farm-to-Table and the recently expanded After-School Program.

“He’s volunteered and attended events,” Wilson said, later showing a picture of Boone reading with children as part of the new Starfish Mentoring program. Wilson said Boone has been very successful and communicative with Headwaters during his tenure. “I’m very grateful for the partnership,” Wilson concluded.

Gary Light, of the Stonewall-Hawthorne district, also began by thanking the school board members for their work, and said he believed their most important job is to find, hire and maintain a good superintendent. “I have heard nothing but good things about Dr. Boone’s performance,” said Light, who also spoke in support of the superintendent at last month’s meeting.

Piedmont district resident Jeff Sabol said he has noticed a “transformation of our schools” over Boone’s tenure. He praised Boone for embracing technology, strengthening the after-school programs and upgrading both math and reading. “And I hear he’s pretty good with insufficient budgets,” Sabol laughed.

Sabol said the situation required a “thoughtful approach” from both sides, and encouraged them to seek common ground – the desire to better the system for the benefit of the kids.

“It’s dangerous to reverse our progress,” Sabol warned. “I think we could see parents alienated and a migration of students to other school systems.”

Finally, Sabol wondered about the impact that not renewing Boone’s contract could have on future Rappahannock County Public School superintendents.

“What kind of replacement would we even be able to get if we ran him out of town?” Sabol wondered. “That’s not a good legacy for any of us.”

School board chairman John Lesinski said last month that Boone’s contract expires next June but that the board owes him an evaluation by the end of the calendar year. “Word must have gotten out that we were in the process of his evaluation,” Lesinski said, referring to the outpouring of support. The decision of whether or not to renew Boone’s contract was a personnel matter and thus private, Lesinski said, noting that no decision has been made. Other board members contacted deferred comment to Lesinski.