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HCPS board holds retreat: Improvements to school buildings, staff retention discussed

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The Henry County Public Schools (HCPS) Board met for a retreat after their regular monthly board meeting on Thursday to discuss the appointment of a new board member, the strategic plan for the school year, facility projects and more.

HCPS Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning Lisa Millner presented strategic plan updates, focusing on providing high quality instruction, high quality professionals, a safe and innovative learning environment and family and community engagement.

The areas of focus for providing a higher quality instruction in schools are grading, assessments, differentiation, supporting teachers and supporting administrators. For providing high quality professionals, HCPS plans to expand recruitment, work on interpersonal skills, foster employee retention and have a compensation study completed by the human resources department within Henry County.

“We want to empower them. We want to make sure that they have what they need, the resources that they need; we want to keep them,” Millner said of employees.

Millner said that HCPS plans to provide a safe and innovative learning environment by improving the building surveillance system, replacing lighting in the buildings, having building interiors painted, upgrading exterior access controls and improving secondary school furniture.

“The last area is family and community engagement,” Millner said. “And though we do these things already, of course we can do them better.” She said that HCPS wants to expand partnerships with students, parents, businesses, higher education and community organizations. “You always want to improve and you always want to expand,” she added.

Next, HCPS Director of Human Resources Christy Landon gave a presentation on the changes that the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) has made to the VDOE Superintendent Performance Evaluation System Training.

“It is the same system that you all have been using to evaluate the superintendent over the years,” Landon said. The presentation just has revised items, including the weighting of performance standards and revised guidelines.

Guidelines that have been revised are as follows: updated research; revised four rating level names for summative evaluation to highly effective, effective, approaching effective and ineffective; a new performance standard called Culturally Responsive and Equitable Division Leadership; and other minor changes to evaluation standards that can be viewed on the VDOE website at https://www.doe.virginia.gov/teaching/performance_evaluation/index.shtml.

HCPS Assistant Superintendent for Operations and Administrative Services David Scott presented on the capital plan in terms of revenue streams from federal, state and local funding.

“We still have a bunch of items that have been on an extensive list from the last comprehensive facilities assessment,” Scott said. “We’re in the middle of doing another assessment like that and hope to see results of that this fall.”

He then presented a list of projects in four categories: grant-funded HVAC projects, campus improvements, structural changes and repairs and installation.

Grant-funded HVAC projects include: HVAC, ceiling and lighting at Bassett High School (BHS); air-conditioning in the gymnasium and locker rooms at Laurel Park Middle School (LPMS); air-conditioning in locker rooms at Fieldale-Collinsville Middle School (FCMS); replacing the rooftop air conditioning unit at LPMS; and additional HVAC system upgrades.

Campus improvements projects include: installing artificial turf at Magna Vista High School (MVHS) and BHS; field houses at BHS and MVHS; and track replacement and resurfacing.

Repairs and installation projects include: installation of heater in bus garage; parking lot pavement at the Center for Community Learning (CCL); bleacher replacements at secondary schools; and civil repairs at MVHS, CCL and Meadow View Elementary School (MVES).

Structural changes projects include: a bus rider canopy at Drewry mason elementary (DMU); renovations and additions at Sanville Elementary; roof replacement at LPMS; and elevators at Campbell Court Elementary (CCE), DME and G.W. Carver Elementary (GWCE).

“We know there might be more projects that come up as a result of the facilities assessment that we’re doing and some of the other projects that are listed on here were things that got moved up a little with the introduction” of funds, Scott said.

The board then went into recess instead of adjourning so that they can resume at the Aug. 15 public hearing about the interim board member.

Registered voters in the Ridgeway District are eligible to suggest their names for consideration for the unexpired term of board member Francis Zehr, who died on July 29. The interim member will hold office and participate in all School Board functions from Sept. 1 through Nov. 30, until voters fill the seat at a special election.

Registered voters who live in the Ridgeway district who are interested in filling the interim school board member role should submit a letter of interest to Monica Hatchett at monica.hatchett@henry.k12.va.us or P.O. Box 8958, Collinsville, VA, 24078 by Monday, Aug. 15.

Candidates will be interviewed by the School Board after submission of letters and verification of qualified status as register voters. A public hearing will be held at 6 p.m. Aug. 15.

Monique Holland is a reporter for the Martinsville Bulletin. She can be reached at monique.holland@martinsvillebulletin.com or at 276-734-9603.

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