New school leaders to join Northumberland in 2014-2015 academic year

Posted on Thursday, April 10, 2014 at 9:00 am

At its Monday meeting, the Northumberland County School Board moved to fill holes created by the retirement of two long-time members of the school system’s administration. With Assistant Superintendent of Schools, Dale Wittler, and Middle School principal Bob Bailey having given notice of their retirements as of the end of the current school year, the school board found their replacements in neighboring counties.
The Board decided to hire Lancaster High School Principal Holly Wargo as Northumberland’s Assistant Superintendent for Instruction and Westmoreland County’s middle school principal Michael Ransone to replace Bailey.
Before going into executive session to make its principal and assistant superintendent selections, the meeting opened early at 5:15 p.m. so that School Board Chairman Dick Saxer and member Gerald Howard could brief the rest of the board on a new evaluation process for school superintendents that the Virginia Board of Education is requiring of local boards. The new process is designed to remove objective opinions from the process and replace them with data-supported factual information, Saxer said. The state board suggests seven areas of inquiry with numerous sub-categories. Saxer and Howard recommended several deletions from the sub-categories and the addition of an eighth section dealing with fiscal matters.
Saxer said the state had convened a committee of 35 people that met four times to come up with 68 areas into which the new evaluation process will delve.
Member Betty Christopher suggested waiting until the next meeting to take action after other members of the Board could review the suggested new paperwork.
Following the work session, the Board turned to matters of information with some needing action.
Assistant Superintendent Dale Wittler, reported that a committee the schools had put together voted with a 63  percent majority to extend the school year from 168 to 173 days. Although the extension will cost an estimated additional $21,000, the school board voted unanimously to extend the school year.
The vote was met with cheers from the audience.
The board also heard from several speakers including Children’s Librarian Jan Bates, who spoke about a new program at the Northumberland Public Library through which middle school students wrote poems that have been printed on pocket-sized slips of paper and will be handed out with library books.
The program is part of National Poetry Month, Bates said.
The principals of the elementary, middle and high schools, Arnette Butler, Bob Bailey and Travis Burns, respectively, announced their schools’ selections for “Teacher of the Year:” 35-year veteran English teacher Don Belfield for the high school, 37-year veteran Debra Keeve Parker for the elementary schools and Michelle Packett who “goes way beyond what’s required” Bailey said, for the middle school.
Beta Club sponsor Jovita Kelly introduced Kayla Bryant who won first place in freehand drawing at State Beta Camp and will now compete nationally.
Superintendent Rebecca Gates, said that the board’s budget had been submitted to the Board of Supervisors and that the board was waiting for information from the state about its budget before acting.

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