By Callie Hietala
Patrick & Henry Community College (P&HCC) presented a $5,000 donation to Henry County Public Schools’ Career Academy at the Dec. 9 Henry County School Board meeting.
The money comes from the National Center for Construction Education & Research (NCCER) and Build Your Future (BYF) which, for the past 9 years, has organized and promoted October as Careers in Construction Month (CICM), bringing together industry professionals, training programs, and government entities to raise awareness.
The Career Academy in Fisgboro is the county’s career and technical education (CTE) center. It provides juniors and seniors from Bassett and Magna Vista High Schools the opportunity to prepare for careers in industrial maintenance, cybersecurity, cosmetology, and animal science upon graduation.
P&HCC was one of four institutions selected by NCCER from a nationwide pool of nearly 170 organizations to present $5,000 in funding to a construction craft training program of its choice. Each of the 170 institutions made a pledge aimed to increase public awareness of career paths in construction and to inspire the next generation of craft professionals.
“Patrick & Henry Community College was proud to nominate Henry County Schools’ Career Academy because it is committed to taking career and technical education to the next level,” said Rhonda Hodges, P&HCC’s Vice President of Workforce, Economic, and Community Development in a press release. “The Career Academy’s objective is to make education applied, practical, and aligned with industry needs.”
Dr. Greg Hodges, president of P&HCC, congratulated the school system for the success of the academy: “Our senior leadership team toured the Career Academy again last week and could not be more impressed with the work that you all are doing. We are delighted for our continued partnership in being able to take (your students) into our career and technical education programs at Patrick & Henry.”
He added that, “we are delighted to extend our partnership with the CTE academy in training the next generation of technologists that we all know that we need.”
In other matters, the board:
*Reviewed the proposed draft calendar for the 2022-2023 school year. The calendar will be presented again to the board for its approval at its Jan. 6 meeting.
*Heard an update from Lisa Millner, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, regarding expenditures funded through the American Rescue Plan (ARP) ESSER III funding. Henry County Public Schools has received a total of $18,063,913.32 in funding. At least 20 percent of the funds must address learning loss.
Millner said some of the funding has been allocated to hazard pay for nutrition workers, help cover summer school and after-school tutoring expenses, compensate teachers covering classes due to a shortage of substitute teachers, fund one paraprofessional for each elementary and middle school, and pay additional nursing staff. Additionally, Millner said, they hope to use some of the funding to hire two new assistant principals.
Thus far, purchases using those funds include HVAC upgrades and equipment, transportation system upgrades, various online resources and platform subscriptions, updated furniture to allow for social distancing and efficient sanitization, COVID-19 testing kits, iPads, PPE and sanitizing products, among other items. In total, the schools have spent or allocated $4,583,585.82 for compensation and fringes, $10,576,419.00 for purchased services, and $2,903,908.50 for materials and supplies.
*Heard from Assistant Superintendent of Operations and Administrative Services Dr. David Scott on the timeline for the development of a school budget for the next fiscal year. Chairman Thomas Auker appointed Terri Flanagan and Cheri Whitlow to represent the school board on the budget committee.
*Approved the consent agenda.
*Reappointed Leslie Ramey as clerk of the board and Monica Hatchett as deputy clerk. Each appointment is for a one-year term.
*Approved the 2022 legislative agenda. Superintendent Sandy Strayer said agenda items include having mechanisms in place to measure student growth outside of test results, funding requests for increased teacher and staff pay to help combat teacher shortages, funding for social-emotional learning and alternative education options for students as needed.
The board voted unanimously to amend the agenda to include several additions proposed by board member Teddy Martin, of the Reed Creek District, and president of the Virginia School Board Association. He requested including language that indicates the school board is an independent governing body with constitutional authority “and the reversion process should include us in that matter as well as the public as a whole,” and that money from the 1 percent sales tax increase in Henry County be used for new school expenses and not for previous expenditures.
*Approved a policy revision to include Juneteenth as an additional holiday in the school calendar.
*Heard the superintendent’s report.
*Voted 6-1 in favor of exploring a request from Vice Chairman Francis Zehr regarding the construction of a canopy at Drewery Mason Elementary School to provide additional protection from the elements when students are outside. Ben Gravely of the Iriswood District was the sole nay vote.
*Paid tribute to outgoing school board member Dr. Merris Stambaugh of the Collinsville District. Elizabeth Durden will replace Stambaugh, who did not seek reelection, as the Collinsville representative in 2022.