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Camilla Washington, Carol Tracy Carr, Perrie Johnson and Brenda Pace look over a poster on federal and state benchmarks.“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink – but you sure can make it thirsty!”
Fluvanna School Superintendent Gena Keller heard another educator say this at a recent conference and decided to deliver this message to teachers and staff in a unique way.

Keller bought salt licks for every school.

“Each school will decide what to put on the salt block, but it will be something like ‘Make them Thirsty,’” Keller told the Fluvanna County School Board at its semi-annual seminar Monday (Aug. 8). School Board member Charles Rittenhouse did not attend.

Reaching absent or disinterested students is difficult for everyone, Keller said. “We need to grow and imagine teaching children for a future we can’t even imagine,” she said.

At the seminar the Board welcomed new staff and discussed student performance, a preliminary budget, and carrying out a Board self-evaluation.

Board Chair Camilla Washington said she asked several local school boards for input on how they conducted self-evaluations. Only Charlottesville and Albemarle responded. Both surveys were in-depth, multi-page documents.
Carol Tracy Carr said the evaluations were more “detailed” than she imagined.  She said she envisioned a more entry-level evaluation – one that started with the Board’s vision statement and had them rate how well they were meeting it in different aspects.

“I’d like it to focus on Fluvanna specifically,” she said.

Washington agreed Fluvanna’s evaluation need not be so in-depth, but said “it’s important to hold ourselves accountable to make sure we hold the superintendent accountable.”

Perrie Johnson said she thought the Fluvanna survey should “include questions we ask on our staff survey.”
The Board asked secretary Brandi Critzer to come up with a list of statements to include on the survey. They plan to meet in a work session next month to further discuss the evaluation process.

Jamie Mathieson, director of testing and accountability, presented information concerning new federal and state monitoring guidelines. As Board members looked at each poster, Mathieson answered questions.

Director of Finance Edward Breslauer showed the Board a 96-page preliminary budget that started with fiscal year 2017’s number of $38 million. This led to a discussion of how important it is that residents and the Board of Supervisors understand how fluid the school budget has to be.
Carr said the budget has to reflect the changes in Fluvanna County.

“For example, we don’t know how many Spanish speaking students we’ll have so we don’t know how many ESL (English as a second language) teachers we’ll need,” Carr said.

Keller reminded the Board that when she first became superintendent six years ago, the budget was done by just her and Breslauer. Now staff, school principals and directors have input, which she said makes a more representative budget.