Warren schools tackle new year on new day

FRONT ROYAL – Warren County Public Schools began 2016 with administrative appointments at the School Board meeting on Wednesday, a change from their 2015 Thursday meetings.

Starting off the new year, the School Board unanimously appointed Catherine Bower to serve again as chairman and Douglas Rosen to serve as Vice Chair. South River member Donna McEathron sat at her designated spot for the first time after being elected to replace Joanne Cherefko.

“We do have a lot of things – as Mr. Williams said – on the burner this year, and you’re the right person to lead us in that direction,” board member James Wells said later as part of his report.

The board also appointed Rob Ballentine to serve as the School Board Clerk and Annette Bass as Deputy Clerk. Additionally, Superintendent Greg Drescher suggested he serve as a backup for Bass. Bower and Rosen will continue to serve on the Building Committee and Bower will serve on the Mountain Vista Governor’s School Board in Cherefko’s place.

Director of Secondary Instruction Alan Fox updated the board on Skyline High School’s essential action plans that came out of academic review because of the school’s accreditation status. He said the school will submit a three-year plan to the DOE in the fall.

Director of Elementary Instruction Lisa Rudacille gave the board details about division-wide essential actions that would facilitate professional development, training and feedback as part of that plan.

As part of his report, Drescher noted the positive impact of the start of a new semester after winter break with tests out of the way. He said the middle school construction is on schedule and updated those in attendance about the approval of roof and entryway construction at Ressie Jeffries Elementary.

Drescher also described the current processes for the schools’ substitute teachers transitioning to the new outsourced Source4Teachers system. Of the reported 140 school-hired substitutes, he said 90 have signed on so far – though he also said a significant portion of that 140 aren’t as active.

Source4Teachers District Manager Joseph Fitzgerald said that sign-on rate is higher than typically expected and the company has begun recruitment around the community.

“There’s always a little bit of anxiety when there’s change, and so we’ve been able to, with Mr. Smith, meet with anyone that was concerned,” he said.

Training will continue with multiple staff groups until the shift is made officially in March.

The board also approved the 2016-2017 Program of Studies for middle and high school students, including courses for programming, graphics, physical education and general music. In preparation for bills that would come due before the board could approve the clerk’s report, the board again approved pre-approval payment authorizations for emergency situations and compensation.

Replacing several totaled or out-of-service vehicles, the board also approved purchasing three new vehicles for the schools’ Transportation Department. The board also approved shifting School Board meetings from the second and fourth Thursdays of every month to the first and third Wednesdays of every month and adopted the 2016 VSBA Code of Conduct for School Board Members.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com