- Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 September 2012 20:25
- Published on Tuesday, 18 September 2012 20:25
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Officials in Westmoreland County noted with relief the ease with which the new year’s school session began immediately following the Labor Day weekend. The 2011 opening had been delayed as the result of a succession of earth shattering natural occurrences.
Characterizing the initial days of the county school division’s 2012-13 session, Superintendent Rebecca Lowry remarked that there had been “no hurricane or earthquake, just a routine school opening. “Everything was much easier than last year,” she advised.
On August 23, 2011 Westmoreland was rocked by a 5.8 magnitude earthquake whose epicenter was 6 miles southeast of Mineral, Virginia. Hurricane Irene followed close behind, but impacts associated with the highly unusual earthquake and the hurricane were eclipsed when record rains resulted from the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee.
Now in her second year of service as Superintendent of the Westmoreland County School Division, Dr. Lowry remembers well the rocky manner in which the delayed 2011-12 session began. In addition to washed-out roads, Placid Bay subdivision residents were stranded for an extended period. Lowry and other school employees visited the most devastated neighborhoods. When the school session finally began, portions of Placid Bay were still inaccessible and Lowry and others personally delivered classwork to the stranded students.
One year later, Superintendent Lowry encountered a normal opening. She reported that the projected 2012-13 student population of 1,582 had been on target, with 360 students enrolled in Cople Elementary School, 395 students attending Washington District Elementary School, 353 at Montross Middle School and 469 enrolled at Washington and Lee.
Westmoreland schools will not encounter a state revenue shortfall that would have resulted from an inflated projection of student enrollment numbers.
Lowery praised improvements made to school division parking areas. Those paving projects were included in the local government’s larger project that included resurfacing of parking lots on county government properties.
Dr. Lowey and Board of Supervisors Chairman Darryl Fisher exchanged comments on Sept. 10 concerning the school division’s recent purchase of five new buses. Six of the oldest buses were retired from service and Fisher remarked about having met a new bus while stopped at an intersection. Recognizing the District 1 Supervisors, the group
of students lowered the windows and expressed their gratitude. “The school opening this year has been great and I’ve heard nothing but positive feedback,” Fisher told Lowry. “Morale is so high. I think the new blacktop and the new buses helped. Everyone can see that we are working together to enhance the workplace and the environment.
“This is refreshing. If we can just keep the dialogue going between the two boards and the superintendent and county administrator, I think we can continue to do good things and the quality of education
will continue to improve.”
Despite the 2012-2013 budget’s salary enhancements, Westmoreland School Board engaged 22 new teachers in 2012-2013. Westmoreland has historically been a jurisdiction where young and newly certified educators come to gain experience in their chosen profession and then move on to more urban areas where prior experience is an employment requisite.