School Board discusses testing data, discipline

School Board discusses testing data, discipline

By Ruthann Carr


The Fluvanna School Board met Tuesday (July 30) for a seminar to discuss testing data, discipline, budget, and strategic priorities.


Accreditation standards have been revised by the state and will no longer be just based on overall student achievement on state tests, Superintendent Chuck Winker told the Board.

The revised standards measure performance on multiple school-quality indicators and are rated at one of three levels:

  • LEVEL ONE: Meets or exceeds standard or sufficient improvement
  • LEVEL TWO: Near standard or making sufficient improvement
  • LEVEL THREE: Below standard. All schools must develop a multi-year plan to support continuous improvement on all indicators.

Any level below Level one triggers required local and state actions and interventions to improve performance.

At every one of Fluvanna’s schools, black, economically disadvantaged and students with disabilities are performing below Level one in English.

Chronic absenteeism is another quality indicator. It’s at Level two for Central. At both the middle and high schools it is currently at Level one but projected to reach Level two.

Winkler said all administrators are working with teachers to close those gaps in English achievements and absenteeism.


In the staff survey, those who added comments often said discipline is inconsistent, administration isn’t supportive of teachers when it comes to discipline and aren’t in the hallways or at lunch where much of the bad behavior happens.

Many teachers commented on the survey that even when a punishment is administered, parents come in and complain. The result of their complaints is too often the punishment is lessened. This, teachers say, undermines their authority.

In a 4-year comparison of all recorded discipline referrals (in-school and out-of-school suspension, bus incidents and Department of Education reportable, 2018/2019 was the lowest with 3,306.  The highest year was 2016/17 with 4,758.

A DOE reportable offense is “any incident that results in more than 0.5 days with in-school suspension, any out-of-school suspension, and any incident that could be perceived as a criminal act (i.e. weapons, drugs, assault, etc.),” Winkler said.

Andrew Pullen (Columbia) said too often the numbers don’t reflect realty. It could be teachers and administrators just make fewer referrals.

He said he heard that the Florida school shooter was allowed back in school despite multiple discipline problems that led to suspensions, “because they were concerned about chronic absenteeism numbers.”

He read from the school handbook on dress code violations and said students know they have five infractions before suffering any real repercussions.

“(They could think) I’ve got five times.  I’m not really going to get punished,’” he said.

Perrie Johnson (Fork Union) said often teachers have already tried good behavior and punish bad before referring the student to the administration.

“Too often the administration starts from step one and they need to move on from the point the teacher left off,” Johnson said.

She also said when a student is disciplined fairly, it makes all students safer.

Superintendent Chuck Winkler agreed discipline needs to be fair and consistent.

“When you have an abuser, you punish the abuser,” Winkler said.

In other business, Winkler asked the Board to consider hiring a part-time trainer to shore up the full-time position.

“It’s a matter of safety – it’s summer and athletes are at risk of heat stroke…it’s an accident waiting to happen; a lawsuit waiting to happen,” Winkler said. “I’m in favor of trying to find one and there is money in the budget.”

The Board voted to move the August meeting to Aug. 13 at 6:30 p.m.



After Board questions about technology spending in the July meeting, Winkler and Executive Director for Instruction and Finance presented answers.

“I felt horrible after the June meeting and I shouldn’t have,” Winkler said. “There are no smoke and mirrors. There is nothing dishonest about this.”

Winkler said the Board agreed in October to move money from the technology budget into the instructional category with the understanding it would buy technology needed for instruction: Chrome books for students, teacher laptops, software, etc.

In June, Winkler told Director of Technology Josh Gifford to spend his appropriation because that money cannot be carried over.

Winkler said both he and Gilliam struggled after the last meeting because try as they might, they didn’t have the answers at their fingertips which appeared as if they were trying to hide something.

“I told you in June I was going to instruct Josh to spend the money in his budget,” Winkler said. “We did not spend $500,000 more in June. We just didn’t. I didn’t do anything wrong or unethical”

He said the Board’s questioning where the money came from to buy the technology took him and Gilliam by surprise.

Winkler wondered how much spending oversight the Board wanted.

“I don’t know how many pencils you want me to buy, but they have to be bought. Do you want to know every time I need to buy something? I’m talking big-ticket items over a certain amount. We need a new tractor.”

Pullen said, “You just bought one.”

“Yes,” Winkler said. “And we need another. Do you know how many fields we have to cut? I’ll do my best to find a used one.”

As of July 30, the district has $859,303.31 of local funding leftover that can be returned to the county.

When that number is final, likely in September, the Board can vote on what to do with it.

As he has in the past, Winkler pleaded with the Board for direction in planning the budget, wanting them to express their priorities.

He gave them an inch-thick copy of the line-by-line budget.

“Please take a look at that,” he said. “Jot down your questions. Let me know what your priorities are. I’d like to start planning the FY 2021 budget as early as next month.”

Because the Board was scheduled to meet new teachers at 1 p.m., there wasn’t time left to spend time discussing strategic priorities.

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