When the school board meets Monday night at 6:30 p.m. at Clays Mill Elementary School, school board members are slated to elect a new vice-chairman to fill the position left vacant when previous vice chairman Sandra Garner-Coleman became chairman following the sudden and unexpected resignation of former chairman Joe Gasperini at last month’s board meeting.
During the August school board meeting, Gasperini also announced his decision to remove his name from the Nov. 5 ballot in the upcoming election.
The school board accepted his resignation in a 6 to 2 vote with ED-8 Trustee Walter Potts and ED-5 Trustee Freddie Edmunds voting no.
In reading his resignation letter near the conclusion of the meeting, Gasperini said, “I had higher hopes for the county than it had for itself. The dream of a new high school could have changed the direction of this county. Instead, we have a group of individuals who want to make vague proclamation as to what the county needs when it has been obvious all along. I wish only the best for the students and staff of the Halifax County School System.”
The former chairman has been an advocate for building a new high school since talks of rebuilding or renovating the secondary school began, and he served on the facilities committee.
At its August meeting, Halifax County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution authorizing Halifax County to levy a general retail sales tax to fund capital renovation or construction of schools in the county.
The referendum authorizes Halifax County to levy a general retail sales tax not to exceed 1% to provide revenue solely for capital projects for construction or renovation of schools in Halifax County.
Following the August school board meeting, the chairman said he felt the public was not being included in the decision-making process.
“They’re not letting the public make a decision…the public should know what they’re voting on,” said Gasperini, who added he hopes the referendum passes, and he hopes a new high school is built.
The former school board chairman had been certified to have his name placed on the Nov. 5 ballot for the ED-4 seat on the Halifax County School Board. He would have faced opposition from challenger Jay Camp, the former county school finance director.
Following last month’s school board meeting, Dr. Mark Lineburg, school superintendent, said the school board plans to leave the ED-4 seat vacant until the Nov. 5 election is held.
In the meantime, school board members are expected to elect a vice chairman to serve until new officers are elected in January.
In other action Monday night, the possibility of performing random drug tests on students who participate in Virginia High School League activities is slated for school board review again when Jeff Davis, student services/accountability director, presents a review of other schools’ drug testing policies.
School board members declined to take action at recent meetings seeking more information about other schools’ policies, so they could determine their own guidelines.
The idea is being introduced as a preventive measure to keep high school students away from drugs, the superintendent explained.
Davis first presented the idea to the board several months ago, and in July he presented prices for the testing to school board members.
The cost would be roughly $15,000 to $20,000 annually, said Davis.
He also said some schools have nurses trained to handle the testing, but Lineburg said he did not want to go that route.
The superintendent said he preferred if the school system stayed out of the testing procedure and the selection process.
“To me, random means random. If it’s random, then we’re out of it,” said Lineburg.
How often and how many tests performed at a time will be left up to the school system.
In other action Monday night, school board members are expected to take the following actions:
• Review the Virginia School Board Association policy services contract;
• Hear from a HCPS Education Foundation board member concerning new board members;
• Receive a budget timeline from Robert L. Aylor, interim superintendent of budget, finance and operations;
• Spotlight student learning at Clays Mill Elementary School;
• Learn more about math specialist completers;
• Receive a report on the opening of school;
• Approve the consent agenda;
• Listen to comments from the superintendent and the new chairman;
• Receive citizen comments; and
• Go into closed session to discuss personnel and property before adjourning.