The Warren County School Board named two new principals on Tuesday.
Shamika A. McDonald takes over as principal of Leslie Fox Keyser Elementary School and Kenneth R. Knesh Jr. moves into the same role at Warren County High School.
McDonald and Knesh, both assistant principals at their schools now, begin their new positions on July 1. McDonald succeeds Danelle Sperling, who the board recently appointed to serve as principal of Skyline High School. Knesh succeeds Ernestine Jordan.
Chairman Arnold M. Williams Jr., Vice Chairwoman Catherine R. Bower and board members Kristen J. Pence, Ralph A. Rinaldi and James S. Wells attended the meeting. All members voted in favor of Superintendent Christopher Ballenger’s recommendations for the appointments.
Ballenger introduced each administrator. McDonald has worked for the school system for 17 years as a teacher and an administrator, with the last four years as assistant principal at Leslie Fox Keyser. Ballenger said McDonald’s experience makes her the “perfect choice” for the principal position. McDonald graduated from the Warren County school system and she is currently working on a doctorate degree.
McDonald read a speech in which she thanked board members for allowing her to continue her leadership at Leslie Fox Keyser.
Ballenger introduced Knesh who, in his 22 years in education, has worked as a teacher, assistant principal and principal. Knesh has served as the assistant principal at Warren County High School for six years, which Ballenger said makes him the best choice for the position. Knesh congratulated McDonald on her appointment and also credited Jordan as his mentor and inspiration.
Also at the meeting, members voted to:
• Adopt a resolution authorizing the superintendent to reassign any teacher, assistant principal or principal within the division for the 2021-2022 school year.
• Approve the 2022-2023 division calendar. The school year for students begins Aug. 9, 2022 and ends May 25, 2023, according to the calendar.
• Renew insurances for 2021-2022 through the Virginia Association of Counties group self insurance risk pool.
• Select the firm of Robinson, Farmer, Cox Associates to conduct the fiscal 2021 school activities funds audit at a cost of $15,500.
• Approve the health, dental and vision insurance rates for the 2021-2022 plan year effective Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, 2022.
Earlier in the meeting, board members heard from three parents during the community participation period. Each speaker urged the board to lift the requirement that students wear masks in school and said the restrictions are hurting more than helping children. Members do not usually respond to comments or questions raised during the participation period.
Ballenger later gave the board an update on the division’s COVID-19 cases. The division has one active case involving a student and 10 quarantined; zero active cases involving staff members and two quarantined. Ballenger attributed the decreasing numbers of active cases and quarantines to the collaborative efforts by the health department and Valley Health to hold vaccination clinics for staff and students. Ballenger said that 266 people aged 16 and older received vaccinations at a clinic held on May 5 at Skyline High School. Another clinic at Skyline on May 26 recorded 414 people aged 12 and older receiving vaccinations.
Ballenger said Gov. Ralph Northam’s order that took effect May 28 requires that anybody on school property or on a school bus wear a mask. Division administrators relaxed the mask mandate for people outside as long as they maintain social distancing.