By a 4-1 vote with Carrie Coyner dissenting, the Chesterfield school board on Nov. 12 requested authorization from the Chesterfield Board of Supervisors to spend $4.5 million in county reserve funds and $3.8 million for increased student growth.
The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the request at its Nov. 13 meeting.
The school board approved a plan by Superintendent Merv Daugherty that would remove lockers to make more classroom space at Cosby, Clover Hill, Matoaca and Meadowbrook high schools at a cost of $1.6 million; replace laptops and desktops for 1,435 teachers, administrators and support staff at a cost of $1.15 million; provide additional security at Cosby, Clover Hill, Matoaca, Midlothian and Monacan high schools at a cost of $1.5 million; and refinish gym floors at Bird, Carver College and Career Academy, Clover Hill, Manchester, Matoaca, Midlothian and Thomas Dale high schools at a cost of $240,000. The additional security would primarily be used for security cameras at a cost of $1.4 million.
An increase of 763 students from 61,118 to 61,881 – based off actual enrollment numbers instead of projections – would allow the district to hire 18 additional special education and English as a Second Language teachers and 20 additional teachers and support staffers for $1.95 million; increase bus driver pay by 75 cents an hour at a cost of $550,000; and enhance security cameras at James River and Thomas Dale high schools at a cost of $1.254 million.
Responding to questioning by Coyner, staff said the school district currently has openings for 21 special education teachers, but no ESL vacancies.
In regard to overcrowding at Falling Creek Middle School, Daugherty noted the district spent $5.5 million last summer on renovations at the school. “Everything we can fix, we fixed,” he said, noting that overcrowding couldn’t be fixed with renovations.
Dale District board member John Erbach said that overcrowding at some schools would have be dealt with by the incoming school board. Relief “is going to come down to redistricting,” he said.
The district accepted a number of grants, including two STOP School Violence Threat Assessment grants of $250,000 and $169, 678. The grants will be used to purchase an emergency response phone application and anonymous reporting software. With the push of a button, the app will allow staff to directly call 911 or other designated school personnel in the event of an emergency or active-shooter incident. The software will allow students, teachers, parents, and the community to anonymously report student acts of violence against themselves or others.
In other action, Lisa High was introduced as the district’s new chief of schools. She comes from Falls Church City Public Schools, Daugherty said, where she served as an assistant superintendent, and held other jobs. She makes $159,500 a year.
High replaced John Gordon, who became superintendent in Suffolk. The chief of schools works to ensure that school programs and services support optimum academic achievement for students, among other things.