Meet the Neighbors

Because my term on the Fluvanna School Board doesn’t begin until January, I’ve had time to go to school board meetings in some of our surrounding counties.  It suddenly occurred to me I could probably learn something from our neighbors, so this week I went to Orange, Goochland, Buckingham, and Albemarle.

The meeting in Orange was very short, but they have two meetings per month, a regular meeting and a workshop.  After I turned up for the regular meeting, I found out most of the action takes place during the workshop sessions.  Several counties meet only once a month, but that makes for a long evening, and it’s hard to imagine everyone is as focused at 10 pm as they were at 6.  Buckingham School Board often meets during the day, beginning at 1:00.

There were other less obvious, but very interesting, differences.  In some counties it was clear who was in charge of the meeting.  In others it was a toss-up between the Board chair, the superintendent, or even apparently influential members of the administrative staff.

There was a big difference in time spent discussing Board member questions or concerns. Some counties kept closely to a prescribed agenda, not asking questions or adding new business.  Some went a little too far in the other direction (at least I thought so after 10 pm) but you had to appreciate their level of engagement.  I did like that Goochland and Albemarle included “New” or “Other” Business on the agenda.

Two things that everyone had in common concerned public comment and community attendance.  Most of the meetings had only 1 or 2 people making a public comment.  One county did not invite speakers to come forward from the audience but required them to sign up in advance.  There were no takers.  Some of the other counties were (no kidding) excited to have people come forward.  They tried to put speakers at ease before their remarks, and commented on the issue when the speaker was done.

Community attendance was very low in all locations.  We’re talking less than 5 people.  Even Albemarle only managed about 10 folks who didn’t have to be there.  But how many of us sit in on sessions of the General Assembly, only about an hour away?  We elect representatives to show up and represent.

Fluvanna also had a School Board meeting this week.  It was fairly short.  One of the items teacher subscribers may find interesting is that the $300 one-time bonus is off the table.  The possibility of a raise from the Governor was discussed, and he announced just yesterday he’ll propose a 2% raise for teachers, but not effective until July 2017 and dependent on revenues estimated for 2018.  That means 0% next year with 2% possible after that “subject to approval and matching funds from local governments”.

Cumberland has a School Board meeting on Monday.  Anybody want to carpool?


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This blog is a personal blog written and edited by me.  The views expressed in this blog are purely my own and do not represent the Fluvanna County School Board, the school superintendent, or anyone else. Comments added by others are not necessarily my opinions and I am not responsible for their content.