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Grayson principals shuffled after resignations

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By Ben Bomberger, Reporter

INDEPENDENCE — This past summer was a tough one for Grayson County Schools, as three division principals left — prompting a request from a school board member to look into the reasons why.

During the Grayson School Board meeting Monday night, Grayson Personnel Director Chad Newman announced the retirement of GCHS Principal Diane Haynes and the resignation of GCHS CATE Center Principal Angela Lawson.

Haynes left Grayson to become assistant principal at Alleghany High School in Sparta, N.C.

Just last month, the board accepted the resignation of former Fries Middle School Principal Ellen Forbes-Copenhaver — who accepted a position in Salem.

During the meeting Monday, School Board Member Misty Cassell said it was a sad day in Grayson County when the board is faced with the resignation of a great administrator.

Cassell said the matter needed to be reviewed, and she later voted against accepting the resignations.

Board Member Gary Burris agreed saying, “we will be reviewing it.”

Board Member Shannon Holdaway thanked both principals for their service and noted how well each had done.

Bobby Cheeks will take over as principal at GCHS, leaving Independence Middle School, while Brenda Brown — former Providence Elementary School principal — will take over the reins at Fries Middle School.

Susie Funk, former parental instruction coordinator, is interim principal at Providence and part-time parental involvement teacher.

Other changes in principals include Judy Greear moving from Mount Rogers Combined School to IMS to replace Cheeks and Karen Blevins becoming interim principal at MRCS.

The board accepted the personnel changes on a 4-1 vote, with the dissenting vote coming from Cassell.

When contacted by The Gazette, Grayson Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Thomas said there were limitations on responding to personnel questions.

“We had one principal that decided to retire and two principals submitted resignations. Although these changes occurred at the beginning of the school year, we have outstanding leadership in place at all our schools and had an exceptionally smooth start for all our students,” she added.

In other business, the board:

• received a facilities update from Maintenance Supervisor Roy Anders. The report included new air conditioners installed at Independence Elementary School; repairing a boiler from Elk Creek Elementary for Baywood Elementary and asbestos training for all maintenance workers.

• accepted the low bid of $45,930 from Framar Enterprises to replace the roof of the middle school gymnasium. Anders said three bids were received.

• learned that Baywood Elementary School was accepted into the USDA Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Program for the 2008-09 school year. Baywood is one of 25 schools — and the smallest — chosen across the state to begin the new program in Virginia.

Baywood will receive a total of $11,413.08 to be spent on fresh produce for all students. The fruits and vegetables will be distributed free of charge to students during their regular afternoon snack times at least twice a month. The amount received was more than four times the expected amount and organizers expect the number of times to increase.

Nutritional information will be shared with both the students and their families concerning the benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables. The Cooperative Extension Office, PTO and CATE Center students will provide partnerships that will assist in gathering nutritional information and distributing the fruits and vegetables.

If successful this year, the school will have the opportunity to extend the program into the 2009-10 school year.

• received a letter from Candi Carico, whose son is autistic. Carico expressed that she wanted to reiterate a few concerns regarding her son, Parker.

The letter said that consistency is vital to Parker's success in an educational or home setting, but this has not been provided at school because he is now adjusting to his fourth aide within a year.

In the letters, Carico said she would like to see the credentials for the new teacher hired to be Parker's aide and see some proof that she has had training and experience with autistic children.

Carico recommended that someone she knew personally be hired for the position, and said she was afraid that the new aide would be gone within a year, as well.

School Board Chairwoman Wynn Combs noted that the board could not reply to any of the concerns in the letter, as it was the first time any members had seen it, but the board would have an opportunity to reply at its next regular meeting Sept. 8.