Johnson won’t seek reelection to School Board

By Heather Michon

Perrie Johnson will not seek a third term on the Fluvanna County School Board.

“It seems early to announce, since my term lasts until the end of December, but in case my decision matters to anyone who is considering the position, I wanted to give them the time to make their decision and prepare,” she said at the end of the monthly board meeting on Thursday (March 16).

“I especially want women to consider serving,” she added. “Over half our student population is female, and I think their unique experiences and perspective can be best represented by at least one female member of the board.” 

Johnson was first elected to represent Fork Union in 2015. Fellow board members James Kelley (Palmyra), Charles Rittenhouse (Cunningham), and Andre Key (Rivanna) said they would miss her and her contributions to their discussions. 

Members spent some time reviewing the FY24 budget. Finance Director Brenda Gilliam said the legislators in Richmond remain locked in negotiations over the state budget. The amounts allocated to the schools may not be available until June or July.

In normal years, school districts have a good idea of their allocations by February.

Kelley explained to a group of FCHS seniors attending the meeting that state budget delays over the past two years complicated the budgeting process. “We’re having to budget as a county and the Board of Supervisors are having to set tax rates knowing, honestly, very little about what the state’s going to give us, so it’s a bit like trying to hit a moving target.”

It can also mean that teachers must sign contracts for the next year of work without knowing what their total salary will end up being. “Which is really disconcerting for us, in terms of trying to keep our teachers, but also for teachers, who are just people trying to make their own home budgets,” Kelley said. 

A decision on the COVID leave policy for teachers returned to the agenda from a previous meeting. For much of the pandemic, teachers were not required to use up their sick leave days for a mandatory quarantine period. That policy lapsed in mid-2022, and the staff advisory committee requested the board drop the mandatory quarantine and allow teachers to treat COVID like they would any other virus.

Kelley said he didn’t think he was in the majority, “but I fundamentally believe that it is a worthwhile use of our funds to encourage people to take the time they need to quarantine and to not spread the disease.”

Johnson said she supported the continuation of the policy and would like to make it retroactive to the point where it lapsed in 2022. She also argued it should end when the federal government ends the COVID emergency on May 11.   

After some discussion, the members agreed to set the quarantine period at five days and required teachers to present a positive COVID home test if requested by their administrator from here until the policy sunsets in May.  The motion passed by a vote of 3-1, with Rittenhouse voting against the motion and Andrew Pullen (Columbia) absent for the evening.

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