Fluvanna School Board changes

By Ruthann Carr

At its first meeting of 2022 (Jan. 12) the Fluvanna School Board:

Welcomed new member Gequetta Murray-Key (Rivanna)

Voted James Kelley (Palmyra) as Chair

Voted Perrie Johnson (Fork Union) as Vice Chair

Changed meetings to the second Thursday of each month 

Meetings will still be held in the auditorium of the Administration building with the closed session beginning at 5:30 p.m. and public session at 6:30 p.m.

Former Chair Johnson began the meeting introducing the many “housekeeping” chores the board faced at the first meeting of the year after an election. 

“I’m removing myself for nomination as Chair,” Johnson said. “During the past year I felt returning members held a diminishing respect for my efforts to accomplish the role.”

Johnson nominated Kelley for Chair. The board approved Kelley 3-0. 

Andrew Pullen (Columbia) was absent. 

Charles Rittenhouse (Cunningham) attended remotely but his vote wasn’t heard. 

Kelley changed seats with Johnson. 

“This isn’t a position I necessarily sought,” Kelley said. “I appreciate Ms. Johnson’s service to us. I feel bad for the part I played in making her not feel valued. It’s a difficult position. I know I have some learning to do. I know I’ll reap what I sow. I expect karma to remedy all things for you.”

Kelley nominated Johnson as Vice Chair, adding, “if she’s willing because I could use her help.”

Kelley checked to see if Rittenhouse had anything to say. 

After unmuting his microphone, Rittenhouse joined the others to vote Johnson as Vice Chair. 

Kelley asked Rittenhouse if he wanted to record his vote for Chair. 

Rittenhouse said he would have voted “no” for Kelley for Chair. 

“But you got it, so let’s move on,” Rittenhouse said. 

The final vote for chair was 3-1. 

In other news, Capt. Von Hill presented the board with an overview of the School Resource Office (SRO) program. 

Hill said the program began in Fluvanna in 2003 and officers involved have specific roles:

 Act as a positive role model;


 Serve as a community liaison;

 Work as a law enforcement officer to address violations.

Hill said SROs are specifically trained to work in schools in those capacities. 

Murray-Key said she’d like the program to be shared with and explained to the community and staff. 

She thanked Hill for meeting with her after the November election.

“Ultimately our students and teachers need to feel safe,” Murray-Key said. “I am in support of what we’re doing. Making sure discipline is applied fairly is important. What we have is what I’ve been looking for in a program. Great job, on where you started and where you’ve brought the program.”

Kelley agreed. 

He said studies show SROs lead to school incidents moving to courts and disproportionally affecting students of color.

“But that doesn’t seem to be the case in Fluvanna,” Kelley said. “What’s the secret sauce?”

Hill said it’s a three-fold approach: Being open-minded and open in communication and being willing to listen.

In other business:

Superintendent Peter Gretz said 82 Fluvanna students enrolled in Virtual Virginia for a second semester. 

He said the schools received $17,615 from the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief Fund for Homeless Children and Youth (ARP-HCY) to help homeless students and families with emergency wrap-around services. 

They also were awarded $160,000 funding for security upgrades. It requires a $40,000 match.

Gretz said CDC revised its guidelines shortening isolation/quarantine guidance with a lot of nuances about time of vaccination and age. 

He didn’t feel the schools needed to change their policy immediately.

“I’m asking if changes regarding isolation and quarantine need to be made that you would defer to me to work with my team to make those decisions in the next few weeks rather than waiting for the next board meeting or calling a special meeting,” Gretz said. 

The board agreed.

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