School board weighs meeting time change

In a brief organizational meeting Tuesday night (Jan. 7), the Rappahannock County School Board floated the idea of changing the start times, and possibly dates, of its monthly school board meetings.

Currently, the board meetings begin at 6:30 p.m. on the second Tuesday of the month. Jackson district representative Amy Hitt was the first to suggest possibly changing both of those, pointing out that the board meetings almost always coincide with one (or several) athletic events, forcing parents to pick what they attend.

Hitt suggested the meetings could be moved to Monday or Wednesday night. “There aren’t as many [school] events on those nights,” Hitt said, “and Monday is when the supervisors already meet.”

“You can find a school event every day of the week,” countered board chairman John Lesinski.

“The second Tuesday of every month should be sacrosanct,” agreed new Stonewall-Hawthorne representative Larry Grove.

Superintendent Donna Matthews also pointed out that Tuesday is the only night of the week when no other school-related committees meet — all of which require the presence of at least one school board members. “Selfishly,” admitted Matthews, “I like it that way.”

All the board members did agree that better, more cooperative scheduling between the board, the athletic department and the band department could eliminate many scheduling conflicts. “There are only so many days [athletic director] Jimmy Swindler can work with,” cautioned Matthews, “and sometimes there’s just no other day to have a game on.”

Grove then told the board that he had heard from several people who wished the board meetings started later in the evening. Of the surrounding counties, Grove said, only Loudoun starts theirs at 6:30; every other board meets at 7 p.m. or later. (Two years ago, the board decided to change its meeting times to an hour earlier than they’d traditionally been.)

The rest of the board agreed, and hoped that a potential later start time might allow more parents to attend. Lesinski suggested a 7 p.m. start time would fit the needs of the board perfectly: The closed session portion of the meeting could still start at 6, but would continue for a full hour before being opened to the public, possibly eliminating the need for a second closed session.

Lastly, the board discussed moving the start time of its upcoming budget work sessions to 8:30 a.m., eliminating the need for a nightly meeting and allowing more time for discussion. No final decisions were made; the proposed changes will be assembled into a revised calendar which will be approved at the school board’s regular monthly meeting on Tuesday (Jan. 14).