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Two School Board seats up for grabs

Two Fluvanna County School Board members serving the last year of their terms announced at Wednesday’s (April 12) meeting they will not seek re-election.

Neither the Board chair nor vice chair will be returning.

Chair Carol Carr (Rivanna) cited her age and wanting to spend time with her grandchildren as reasons why she decided not to run. “It has become a pat phrase, but wanting to spend time with my family is a very real thing,” Carr said. 

Saying her time on the Board has been an “incredibly rewarding experience,” Carr added she wished she had run for office long before she did.

Carr, who is serving out her second four-year term, urged students at the meeting to consider running for elected office. “It takes a willingness to learn and dedication,” she said. “I strongly encourage that you do it – if not now, then certainly down the road.”

Vice Chair Camilla Washington (Columbia) said, “After some consideration I’ve decided not to run… So now is the time for the people in the Columbia District to step up.”

Washington was the youngest African American elected to the Fluvanna County School Board in 2010.

Both Carr and Washington made their announcements at the end of the meeting during Board comments.

Early in the meeting, the Board recognized several students for service and accomplishments. 

Joseph O’Connor, a seventh grader, was a semi-finalist in the Virginia National Geographic State Bee.

High school students Casey Clark, Sophia Leichtentritt and Madison Carel were recognized for helping middle school students learn computer coding.

Senior Owen Lietzel started the raspberry pi club at the middle school. Lietzel explained that a raspberry pi is a single-board computer used to teach basic computer science. As Board members shook his hand, Owen joked that he was sorry he hadn’t brought them a pie.

Next the Board recognized the Fluvanna High School Academic Team and its accomplishments in the statewide Battle of the Brains. The team consists of captain Harrison Lee, Eva McGehee, Emily Baker, Sam Conti and Sophie Kershner. Only Eva was present.

Interim Superintendent Chuck Winkler asked the Board to take its annual look at the extended service program that allows retired Fluvanna public school staff to get paid a stipend for working a certain number of hours a year and continue receiving health benefits. 

The Board gave Winkler permission to draw up several options to either keep the plan as is or amend it. Members will put the matter to a vote after reviewing those options.

Winkler told the Board that Fluvanna schools will have about $300,000 extra this year from the state due to class size reduction and basic aid. Winkler suggested using some of the money to have school documents translated by a certified translator as mandated by the state. 

Board member Perrie Johnson (Fork Union) suggested the money be used to give staff bonuses. 

Charles Rittenhouse (Cunningham) said if the schools had the money coming in, perhaps they shouldn’t have asked as much for local funding. “We can’t keep putting it on the taxpayers,” he said. 

Winkler said he’d look into the suggestions and come back to the Board with options.