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Danville School Board – LIVE! (12/17/15)

SouthsideCentral was LIVE! at the Danville Public Schools central office for Thursday’s Danville School Board meeting. We had some technical difficulties but we’ve got everything fixed now. Enjoy the complete recap.

Everybody is here tonight. I have my usual fun with the board before the meeting starts, telling everybody that “Ed hasn’t hit the gavel yet.” Isn’t that right, Lori Cassada? 😀

We’re underway! The second school board meeting of every month is the “work session”, so there’s no prayer or Pledge of Allegiance. We start off with Finance Director Lori Cassada’s finance & textbook fund reports. She also talks about Governor McAuliffe’s new state budget that he introduced today.

Lori Cassada knows where the money is.

We’ve got perfect attendance tonight!

They only set 24 chairs out tonight, and didn’t need that many after all.

Kathy Osborne takes the podium.

Kathy Osborne is up next to update everybody on the school board meetings moving to City Council chambers. She reports that the city’s IT staff denied a request to give school board personnel guest access to the city’s secure internet system, so sensitive information could theoretically be intercepted by a third party. That’s not acceptable. I am highly pissed off that this situation has just now been addressed by the city’s IT department because this transition process has been ongoing for over four months.

There is no valid reason that the school board and essential staff can’t be given access to only the secure internet system and nothing else. The city prides itself on cooperation with Pittsylvania County, yet the city can’t cooperate with its own school system for a small thing like this? Horsecrap. Total horsecrap. I’ve already started the process of notifying all city council members and City manager Ken Larking on this. This is a simple request that has turned into a bureaucratic screw-up. Gah! So the board will meet at the central office for the first meeting in January while problems are worked out. Board member Steven Gould is as frustrated as I am on this one.

Jackie Rochford is up next with the update on the precision machining program for George Washington High School. The Tobacco Commission did not approve the $800K matching grant so the idea is dead for now. Dave Cochran is up next with the safety & security update.

Dave Cochran is happy tonight.

Cochran has a smile on his face when he says he’s glad his office was moved to the GWHS campus. He says now he gets to see exactly what’s happening and he takes an active part in the day’s activities. The security team now has a random draw every morning and selects specific school buses and/or students that drive to school for metal detector checking. They’re not finding much in weapons, just other things that shouldn’t be in school. Cochran also says that students are being reminded not to bring any over-the-counter medicines to school. Sigh. That’s how things have gotten.

Cochran has added a temporary employee to monitor the security cameras during the entire school day. That position is being funded by the savings they have by having one employee out on long-term medical leave. They’ve also put a security officer in each wing of the school with a “Own Your Zone” philosophy. Each one has a standup desk for their belongings so that they can stay in their zone throughout the shift. Finally, he says that they system has moved one security officer from the night shift to the day shift.

Well, we’re alone at the media table now. R&B reporter Trevor Metcalfe has left the meeting and he didn’t even say goodbye. I’m hurt. Robin Owens is up at the podium for her discipline statistics report. Once I get a copy of that, I’ll run it as a NumbersCentral article.

It’s Robin Owens time!

Good seats are very much still available tonight.

We’re almost finished, but the star of the show is up next…

We heart Juliet Jennings! Although it may seem that Juliet has just seen a mouse, that is not the case here. Heh. She’ll yell at me for this one.

She talks about the personnel recommendations and they’re all passed. Mona Whittle gets the assist for immediately knowing what subjects that a new hire will be teaching.

Sadly, Stacey Emsminger has the tough job of following The Juliet Jennings Show. She explains that the school lunch system is only allowed to keep three months cash on hand in their fund accounts and anything else has to be spent on things for the foodservice system. That means that the excess funds have been used to buy cooking equipment for various school cafeterias. She also says that for the first time, GWHS served lunches during exam days, with over 3000 served in the three day period. She thanks the NJROTC class and the Gentlemen By Choice student group for delivering those lunches to the classrooms.

And that’s it! We survived the technical difficulties and have brought you the most detailed recap of Thursday’s Danville School Board meeting. It’s only here on SouthsideCentral!

16 comments to Danville School Board – LIVE! (12/17/15)

  • Sheila

    That is all that was covered in the work session?

  • trevor

    at least DPS discussed using the “sacred” city council’s chambers for meetings. I am not shocked over outcome. the city council’s demeanor and attitude with the school system sux. I have observed way they murder the school board when presenting a budget. sheer agony.

    Alonzo jones made a motion to convert Langston to a high school with Woodrow Wilson as alternative school. that didn’t go over so well…—–> $$$$ obstacle. will be interesting to see if this sees light of day within the coming months.

    • The school board voted to move their meetings over to the chambers on a 4-2 vote. I had pushed hard for that to happen for more transparency and public access, and after a lot of lobbying got the votes needed to make that happen.

      The Woodrow Wilson idea was dead on arrival because the school board plans to move the Langston school to the Woodrow Wilson location. That will free up the Langston campus for Forest Hills to move there temporarily next school year while their school gets renovated. Then Gibson school will move to the Langston Campus the nest year while their school gets renovated.

      • Gus

        Is this going to be the long-term approach to the Langston property — to simply use it as a temporary location for schools that are being renovated?

        • trevor

          good question. what a shame DPS didn’t keep townes lea or glenwood for the temporary school location then only one school would get inconvenienced. a better question is what happens to Langston when no longer the temporary holding school when the schools are renovated/ wonder how those rich forest hills parents like idea of their little precious ones attending Langston?? I bet those teachers won’t look forward to packing twice. of course forest hills is first on the list.

  • Steven D


    I am not sure where you got your terminology or facts for this article, but neither you nor your source know what they are talking about.  The city doesn’t have a “secure internet”  It is the same internet the school system accesses everyday and as a matter of fact the same internet you used to make this post.  This kind of “horsecrap”, to use your vernacular, reporting is total BS.  This IS NOT the way this situation went down.  You boast on getting the facts for your stories. You have dropped the ball on this one.  Do some real reporting and find out the facts before you post “horsecrap” like this.  “I’ve already started the process of notifying all city council members and City manager Ken Larking on this”  I’m sure they don’t give a “horsecrap” what you think, especially for something this trivial.

    • The city doesn’t have a “secure internet” It is the same internet the school system accesses everyday and as a matter of fact the same internet you used to make this post.

      They have the public internet system and they have the secured system that requires a username & password.

      “I’ve already started the process of notifying all city council members and City manager Ken Larking on this” I’m sure they don’t give a “horsecrap” what you think, especially for something this trivial.

      You can think that all that you want, but I’ve already gotten five replies on this today.

  • W.L. Buntin

    Bruce, did anyone mention the amount of waste with the lunches served? Most of the kids wouldn’t eat what they got and instead of giving the excess to a homeless shelter or Salvation Army it was thrown in the dumpster.

  • Gracie

    The thing about moving meeting to council chambers is bs. I think she talked to wrong person! It would better serve them to move and also for the meeting to be carried on River city tv as well!

  • trevor

    if the meeting is NOT aired LIVE on River city tv then what difference does this issue make? nothing is accomplished. same as status quo. —-might as well drop this if not aired live. meeting in ciy council chambers then airing at a the scheduled time later is same as now. bottom line is who cares if there is a live meeting? only time people care is when issues like recent ones hit the pavement. Danvillians sure don’t come to city council to defend the school budget. what does that tell you about Danvillians and the education of their kids? all of this is waste of time and energy. River city tv needs to quickly air the recent meeting. sometimes river city tv airs same ole meeting from previous month after the school board meets. Those of us who watch the meeting want to see it meeting NOW not a month later.

    • The reason for the delay in televising the meetings is that the school system has to edit the video, apply the graphics and then get the finished DVD to Mark Aron. He puts it in the rotation as soon as he gets it. Also remember that the second school board meeting of the month (the “work session”) isn’t even recorded. That will change once the move is complete.

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