Academy big OK'd by board

April 11, 2014

The Henry County School Board on Thursday awarded the base bid for the second phase of construction at Magna Vista High School’s Warrior Tech Academy. 

The bid was awarded to Daniel & Co. Inc. of Danville in the amount of $203,850, pending available funding.

Because the bids came in over budget, the school division administration had recommended delaying part of the work and awarding the base bid to Daniel & Co. in the amount of $156,400. 

But at Thursday’s school board meeting, a number of school board members — including Merris Stambaugh, Francis Zehr and Tom Auker — either asked if there would be savings by completing all the remaining work in phase two at one time rather than having to do part of it later, or indicated they would like the school division to try to find funds to complete all the work during phase two.

Then Stambaugh, who represents the Collinsville District, made a motion to award the base bid to Daniel & Co. in the amount of $203,850 — pending availability of funding. The board approved the motion. 

If the full $203,850 can be obtained, two large labs and some smaller “break-out” areas for small groups of students to meet and work on projects would be added to Warrior Tech, officials hope.

Schools Superintendent Jared Cotton and others said complicating the problem is that the school division’s number of students has declined, which will mean less state funding. Dawn Lawson, the school division’s chief financial officer, said she is trying to finalize the numbers and calculate the impact of the decline. 

In other business Thursday, Barbara Young, science specialist with the Virginia Department of Education, presented a Green Ribbon Award for Magna Vista High School to Assistant Principal Mike Weber.

The Green Ribbon Schools program recognizes energy-efficient and environmentally friendly schools with programs that promote environmental awareness, literacy, community engagement and student wellness. 

Magna Vista High School was one of two schools recognized from Virginia, and only 64 schools were recognized nationwide by the United States Department of Education, according to a school board document.

Young said that during the three years the U.S. Department of Education has given the award, 146 schools nationwide have received it. Four of those schools were in Virginia, including Magna Vista, she said. 

“This is an extremely prestigious award. We are very proud of Magna Vista,” Young said.

In other business, Janet Copenhaver, director of technology and innovation with the school division, reported that the Center for Digital Education and the National School Boards Association recently named the county school division the top in its size category for most fully implementing technology benchmarks in digital education. 

“HCPS was ranked No. 1 in school divisions between 3,000 and 12,000 students and was given the first-place trophy at a reception in New Orleans on Saturday, April 5,” she added.

Copenhaver also reported that HCPS was awarded the Division Leadership Award at the 2014 Southside Virginia Regional Technology Consortium (SVRTC) awards banquet March 27 at Longwood University. The award recognizes “the advances of technology in the educational setting in a school setting,” she said. 

In other business:

• Sandy Strayer, director of K-12 instruction, made a presentation about planned changes for identifying students for Algebra I, making sure they are academically ready for the class. 

• Cotton announced the final plan for inclement weather makeup days. School will be extended one day, to May 23, but that will be a half-day. May 22, which was supposed to be a half-day, will be a full day. A teacher workday, originally set for May 23, has been moved to May 27.

• The board adjusted summer work hours for all maintenance, transportation, central office and other 12-month employees to a four-day work week, Mondays through Thursdays, June 2 through Aug. 1. The superintendent will determine official work hours. The action is estimated to save more than $40,000 in the cost of utilities and motor fleet fuel. 

• The board approved a plan for spending an estimated $162,048.52 in federal funds (Carl D. Perkins grant) on career and technical education programs.

• The board approved the purchase of reading materials for Axton, Mt. Olivet and John Redd Smith elementary schools and Collinsville Primary School at a cost of $131,575, including shipping. 

• The board approved the purchase of career and technical education textbooks at a cost of $32,951.44, including shipping and handling fees.

• The board approved the purchase of 20 desktop computers for the Regional Alternative Program at a cost of $18,915. 

The program serves students in Henry County, Martinsville and Patrick County. It is housed at the Center for Community Learning and lets students continue pursuing a high school diploma in an alternative setting. The computers being used are seven years old and need to be replaced.

• The board approved the contract renewal for the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessment program at a cost of $61,707.10. 

• The board held a discussion about the gap in student enrollments between Bassett and Magna Vista high schools, heard some “unscientific” enrollment projections for those schools, decided not to hire a professional demographer, decided to make no changes in attendance zones at this time and decided not to bring up the issue again before the next budget cycle.

After the meeting, Cotton said DeWitt House, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, will retire June 30. 


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