Holiday gift from school board

By Ruthann Carr

At its meeting Wednesday (Dec. 8) the Fluvanna County School Board voted to give staff and students an early Christmas gift: three days off.

Superintendent Peter Gretz said Dec. 20, 21 and 22 were scheduled as school days, but he suggested adding them to the holiday vacation.

Gretz said giving that time off to students and 10-month contract staff could be in recognition of how difficult the school year has been.

Discussing the proposal, Andrew Pullen (Columbia) said he’d like to extend it to all staff.

Board Chair Perrie Johnson (Fork Union) said staff and teachers hired under a 10-month contract don’t get nearly the amount of paid holidays as year-round staff.

“But haven’t 12-month employees had a difficult year?” said James Kelley (Palmyra).

Pullen said, “I agree with Dr. Kelley.”

Acknowledging the rare moment of consensus, Pullen said, “Capture this moment.”

The Board voted unanimously to grant all staff those three extra paid days off. Students will return from break on Jan. 5.

Charles Rittenhouse (Cunningham) did not attend the meeting.

During his superintendent’s report, Gretz said more students are attending the new, after-school tutoring and remediation sessions.

Attendance is hovering around 90 percent, he said.

There is a small group of students at each grade level who are not engaging in education: either online or in-person, Gretz said. Each student’s reasons are different and multi-faceted.

Gretz said administrators, teachers and staff are working together to find the best solution(s).

In other business:

An eight-hour, hunter-safety course will be offered to students Feb. 26.

Gretz said the number of COVID-19 cases is going down in the schools. He said very few of those who go into quarantine because of contact with a COVID-19 positive person actually contract the virus.

Executive Director for Instruction and Finance Brenda Gilliam said Fluvanna’s Local Composite Index rose by .0087 percent, which means about a $600,000 decrease in state revenue for Fiscal Year 2023.

Another wrench in the process is Fluvanna must come up with a working FY2023 budget just weeks after a new administration and new legislature takes office.

The Board will meet Jan. 20 at 10 a.m. for the FY2023 budget seminar.

It was Shirley Stewart’s (Rivanna) last meeting before retiring.

Johnson read and presented to Stewart a proclamation from the Board.

Gretz gave Stewart several gifts and said in the short time he worked with her, he learned much.

“From the moment I began here you’ve been extremely welcoming to me,” Gretz said. “I appreciate your thoughtful approach to decision making. You have a great deal of judgement, discernment, wisdom, compassion and care.”

Kelley thanked Stewart as well.

“You continue to have a north star that is enviable and reliable and a willingness to listen and learn,” Kelley said.

Johnson thanked Stewart for her “intellect and compassion.”

Pullen wished Stewart “good luck in the future and Merry Christmas.”

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