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School Board addresses past, listens to plans for future

The repercussions of the July Budget and Finance Committee meeting where Council members aired frustration toward the School System for not switching to the Bright accounting system are still being felt.

At this month's School Board meering, School Board member Mike Looney responded to comments made at that meeting.

First, he said, there was a comment that the School Board Office was closed on Fridays, implicating that the School Board staff wasn’t putting in a full work week. Looney pointed out that the school’s new finance director, Janice Brown, typically goes to work at 6:30 a.m. and leaves as late as 8 p.m., Monday through Thursday.

“I think it needs to be made clear that she is putting in more than a full work week,” Looney said.

 Another comment made was that the school’s financial officers are not following fundamental accounting practices.

“We have been told by the VSBA at the state level that there is no one in the state that is any better at what she does than Mrs. Brown,” Looney said. “Nothing but the best financial practices are being followed in our accounting department.”

Chairman Trivett’s comments concerned the correspondence surrounding the appointment of a new school board member to replace Denson.

In short, the appointing Judge Taliaferro wrote to Trivett, “On consideration of the submissions made to me by citizens who desire to be appointed it is my decision to appoint Wayne Kennedy to fill the remainder of the term of former member Bernard [Rocky] Denson.”

An appropriate order has been filed for the appointment; however, Chairman Trivett said, “Since Judge Taliaferro sits in Warsaw -  until he comes to Westmoreland or they have somebody going there, the order will be there until he has an opportunity to sign it.  Then the court will notify me and then Wayne Kennedy can be sworn in.”

After the chairman’s report, Trivett asked the mayor, who was in attendance, if he had any report. Mayor Fred Rummage replied with a smile: “I have no report Mr. Chairman. I have been told that your meetings are so calm and mine aren’t, so I thought I would drop by and see if I could pick up some techniques.”

Superintendent Donna Power gave a PowerPoint presentation outlining her entrance plan to the School Board.

The first three months of the plan will be spent developing trusting relationships with the School Board, administrators and central office staff, Town Council, teaching and support staff as well as the school community and the community at large.

Power plans to work closely with Financial Director Janice Brown to familiarize herself with the school’s financial situation and help facilitate any changes needed to utilize the budget effectively.

She will review existing and new initiatives and make necessary adjustments as it relates to the academic success of the students.

Powers' plans is to develop a thorough knowledge of the Preschool Initiative project as well as develop and implement a professional development plan with RCC College.

“I am blown out of the water by level of expertise and professionalism from our technology team.” Power said. “The fact that this community has two T-1 lines for a community this size is a great thing to be proud of.”

Power explained the value of having the ability to allow students to test online without having to worry about being bumped offline and without having to set up special times to test around the availability of Internet peak hours.

Throughout her public appearances, Power has focused the board and everyone she talks to on the advantages there are for such a small town.

Powers ended her presentation by saying, “I cannot be an effective leader if I don’t come to work every day and love working for the kids.”

Ater the meeting, Chairman Trivett had this to say: "I believe that the school board and Dr. Power will do everything possible to meet or exceed the Town Council's expectations of us.  I appreciate the support that the mayor has continued to show for our school division since he took office, and hope that our Town Council members will show the same support."

— Linda Farneth

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