By Brandon Martin
An outgoing member of the Henry County School Board was honored during the board’s final meeting on Dec. 13.
The school board also adopted a resolution thanking Dr. Joseph DeVault for his service.
DeVault served as the board’s Member-at-Large for 12 years. His tenure included a stint as chairman – between 2013 and 2018. He dedicated his life to education, also serving as a teacher, coach and principal.
“My very first memories of Dr. DeVault came when I was a young child in elementary school. He took time out of his busy day to come out into the lobby and speak to me,” said Sandy Strayer, division superintendent. “I can’t remember exactly what he said, but I’ll never forget how important and special he made me feel. I do remember he was wearing those stripped tube socks and I thought he was so cool. Dr. DeVault is a wise servant-leader who is humble, kind, understanding, fair but firm. He is always the calm in the store. He carries himself with grace, dignity and yes, he is cool.”
Various students also were presented awards for extracurricular excellence throughout the school year.
“It is our privilege to honor several student groups for their achievements during the first semester,” said Monica Hatchett, director of communications and organizational learning for Henry County Public Schools.
Students ranging from Magna Vista High School’s (MVHS) Distributive Education Clubs of America team all the way to Bassett High School’s (BHS) marching band received honors. The schools also were recognized for their workforce development achievements with an ACT Workforce Summit award.
Hatchett also briefed the proposed 2020-21 school calendar, which was developed with input from members of the school community and division staff members.
According to the Hatchett, information was sought from Pittsylvania County, Danville City, and Martinsville City school districts in an effort to align school holiday and break schedules. When drafting the calendar, feedback was taken into account in order to keep the Wednesday before Thanksgiving as a full day student-teacher holiday and to continue to end the first semester in December.
“Several groups also mentioned the priority of maintaining the Wednesday before Thanksgiving as a student-teacher holiday because a lot of families travel on that day,” explained Hatchett.
In other matters, Director of Human Resources Christy Landon discussed potential revisions to School Board policies and regulations.
“Revisions to school board policies reflect efforts to bring school board policies into compliance with new or existing laws,” Landon said.
Policy revisions were made to food services, regulations governing food services, internet privacy, student wellness and school meals and snacks.
The board also considered a consent agenda, approving minutes of past meetings, payment of bills, and an overnight and out-of-state field trip.
Several individuals were unanimously approved to serve on the Special Education Advisory Committee. The committee is comprised of parents of students with or without disabilities, teachers, administrators, and community partners.
The board also passed a motion to acquire new band uniforms for BHS and MVHS to be worn in the next school year. Piggy-backing on a pricing for Loudon County Public Schools, Henry County was able to buy the uniforms for approximately $30,000 from DeMoulin Brothers and Company.
Wendy Durham, director of K-12 instruction, presented the case for approval of the High School and Middle School Program of Studies. According to Durham, no major changes were made to the programs outside of grammatical and aesthetic changes. Some changes that were made were the addition of the Cybersecurity Courses offered at the Career Academy, the addition of PHCC’s ACE Health Sciences Track, updates and changes to PHCC’s academy course offerings for Motorsports, IDEA, and Criminal Justice, and updates to the Academic and Career Plan section reflecting the implementation of Major Clarity, a software program used to develop student plans digitally.
“The program of studies outlines the course description and general policies about a school program of instruction,” Durham explained. “There were no major changes made this year to the programs and courses offered. Modifications that were made were mostly grammatical.”
The board also awarded a contract to upgrade to stage and auditorium lightning at BHS and MVHS to Stage Sound for the next phase of lighting upgrades in the amount of $65,147.36 using Title IV grant funds.
Members also approved a new car rider loop connection at Laurel Park Middle School.
“As we continue our efforts assessing safety in and around our schools, one item from our list is a new car rider loop at Laurel Park Middle School,” said Keith Scott, director of facilities maintenance.“Currently, the car riders line up in front of the building using a temporary stanchion with plastic chain which is difficult to maintain and creates unsafe conditions for arrival and dismissal times. Creating a permanent solution for our car rider traffic would be a much safer atmosphere for our students and staff,“ added.
Asphalt Consultants Inc., of Salem, Virginia, was awarded the contract not to exceed $40,000.