By SHANNON WATKINS
The Pulaski County School Board met Tuesday night in a three-hour session that left some attendees exhausted.
Pulaski County High School social studies teacher Steve Lavery stood up during the second recognition of citizens and said, to a burst of laughter, “I was searching for an unabridged works of Charles Dickens to read to the committee.”
One of the board members jokingly fired back, “It would be shorter than this meeting.”
Earlier in the meeting, the board gave Brian Huddleston in PCHS’s IT department the Employee of the Month Award, and ESL teacher Dannah Card the Teacher of the Month Award. The board praised both for their ongoing hard work and dedication.
At Huddleston’s award, Superintendant Tom Brewster quipped, “The qualification for this award is that he’s a Dolphins fan.”
The awards were followed by a presentation by Director of Special Education Dr. Toni Elitharp, who read a declaration from Governor Robert F. McDonnell declaring March to be Developmental Disability Month and urging citizens to include and recognize people with developmental disabilities in the community.
She called forth several students and former students of the Pulaski County school system who benefited from the special education program, allowing each to speak briefly about their experiences in it. The presentation was met with applause by all present.
Following this was a 12-minute video, condensed from the full 40-minute version, presented by PCHS TV Video Production teacher Gregg Hawks and Drivers Ed teacher Sarah Matney. The video, entitled “Choices,” warns viewers of the dangers of drunk driving, was both made with, and starred, several Pulaski High students who, it was revealed, improvised their dialogue within the framework of the story.
“They had a good time, but when it came down to it, they put their hearts in it,” Matney said.
The movie is being used as a teaching tool in the school system and also will be shown at the Pulaski Theater on May 4 at 7 p.m. Admission will be waived for those who bring a can of food for local food banks.
After these presentations, the board got down to business to discuss what course it would take to handle make-up days for the 6 days missed in schools due to inclement weather. The first option was to set June 3 – 10 as makeup days; the second to transfer the number of days school has been in session to hours. In doing so, the school system would meet the required number of hours without scheduling make-up days. The board voted to convert to hours.
Also under discussion was the graduation date for PCHS. After much debating, the board decided to hold off voting on a date until Monday night.
Following this, the board approved formalizing the use of any fiscal year carryover funds into the textbook and school capital funds. This will still have to be approved by the Board of Supervisors at Monday’s joint meeting.
Superintendent Tom Brewster noted, “We really want to improve our efficiency in the area of textbooks. If we can keep a little of that fund every year, we can do something on a large scale. It makes us more self-sufficient.”
The board adopted the new budget for fiscal year 2013 – 2014, already hammered out in numerous budget workshop meetings since December, unanimously.
The budget covered five areas: the health insurance program; increasing salary to employees who had between 21 and 30 years of experience; funding the local share of a 2 percent salary increase for all teachers and support staff in 2013 – 2014; adding one school research officer for each middle school; and adding security cameras to all schools.
Next, the board voted on the 2013 – 2014 school calendar; the biggest issue brought up was the gap between SOL training and testing. Currently training occurs in December and testing occurs after winter break.
Board member Linda Hill voiced the board’s general displeasure with this policy when she said, “If you have to wait for two weeks, you lose your edge.”
The following item, principal assessments, will be brought back next month.
Dr. Gregory Brown reviewed VSBA policy updates to be examined by attorney Timothy Kirtner.
Dr. Elitharp took the spotlight again to review the next three agenda items which included special education policies and procedures and the special education annual plan, both of which have not changed; and new House Bill 325 on training support services for with dealing students on the autism spectrum. This information will be voted on at the next meeting.
Elitharp began by announcing, “Actually, the special ed policies and procedures handbook is 84 pages, so I thought I’d read each one of those to you.” Amidst laughter and applause, Brewster replied, “I’m on the edge of my seat!”
A review of the 2013 budget was covered by Finance Director Chris Stafford, who pointed out that one third of the current fiscal year’s budget is left.
PCHS Assistant Principal Ross Matney Habitat for Humanity partnering with Governor’s STEM academy at PCHS.