Newsletter 2022 Issue 8
Executive Director
Gina G. Patterson
School boards associations are facing unprecedented times. Now, more than ever, we have become the targets of an agenda that seeks to paint school board member associations as politically leaning organizations with secret financial dealings and the intent to indoctrinate students. The inference that VSBA has a nefarious, anti-parental control agenda is disheartening and undermines the oath that every school board member in the Commonwealth has taken to uphold the constitution and advocate for policies that further educational outcomes for all students. VSBA will always remain steadfastly committed to our mission of leadership, advocacy, and support.

For over a century VSBA has recognized that political leanings threaten the entire fabric of the association and members who bring party agendas introduce a toxic element that will unravel this organization from the inside out. VSBA does not take political positions on policies because that is not the purpose of this association. Whether individual school board members agree or disagree with certain policies, as each certainly has the right to do, the VSBA membership must remain united in the shared mission of promoting excellence in public education. This association does not take oaths to uphold or discount any position or point of view. It is not the role of VSBA staff to take any action that does not represent a majority interest of the membership and with consent of the board, made up of members of all parties.

For 116 years VSBA members have advocated for all students and even as politics grow as divided and toxic as ever, we will continue to keep our eyes on outcomes for all K-12 students in the Commonwealth.

In Memoriam - VSBA Extends Condolences on the Passing of Two School Board Members
The Virginia School Boards Association extends sincere condolences on the recent passing of two Virginia School Board members.

Tommy H. Lansberry, Page County School Board member, passed away on September 22, 2022. For 25 years Mr. Lansberry served as a valuable employee to Page County Public Schools where he worked as a bus mechanic and as a substitute bus driver. In 2018, he was elected to serve his first term as a school board member and was reelected for a second four-year term, in 2022.
Gequetta 'G' Murray-Key, Fluvanna County School Board member, passed away on October 11, 2022. Mrs. Murray-Key was very active in her community, including representing the Rivanna District on the school board. She was also president of the Fluvanna PTO, a member of the Accreditation Committee, an adjunct instructor of criminal justice at Piedmont Virginia Community College and the chief of operations at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail.

Please remember their families and loved ones during this difficult time as we honor their service to public education in the Commonwealth.
Register Now for the 2022 VSBA Annual Convention!
The VSBA is excited to host the 2022 VSBA Annual Convention for school board members and educational leaders from across the state to engage in professional development and networking opportunities. Whether you can attend in-person or virtually, there will be something for everyone. This year’s outstanding speakers and breakout sessions will feature best practices, resources, and tactics to support the best in student outcomes. Register today through your school board clerk and be sure to check out these featured convention activities:
Spotsylvania County Teacher Named 2023 Virginia Teacher of the Year
Congratulations to Fabiana Parker, an English as a second language teacher at Thornburg Middle School in Spotsylvania County, for being named the 2023 Virginia Teacher of the Year.

“We are so proud to see Mrs. Parker recognized for the outstanding work she does each and every day with her students,” said Interim Superintendent Mr. Kelly Guempel. “Fabiana exudes a passion for teaching and her efforts are an inspiration not only to her students, but also to her fellow faculty and staff members.” 

Mrs. Parker has been an educator since 2003. In addition to serving as an ESOL teacher, she also teaches classes at Spotsylvania High School. When not teaching, Mrs. Parker volunteers her time with students, parents, staff, and community members to provide opportunities for partnership and growth through a variety of activities such as a guest speaker series.
Photo courtesy of the Virginia Department of Education
2022 VSBA Media Honor Roll

Each year, in the early Fall, the VSBA Media Honor Roll recognizes media representatives in three categories:  print, radio, and television. Two submissions were omitted in the Issue 7 newsletter.

Congratulations to this year's fellow honorees :

Mathews County
Charles Koenig, Gloucester-Mathews Gazette

Nelson County
Emma Martin, Nelson County Times News and Advance

To view the entire list of honorees and to learn more about the VSBA Media Honor Roll recognition program, visit
J.T. Kessler
Director, Government Relations
Virginia Board of Education Weighing Guidelines for Implementing the School Construction Assistance Program
At the October meeting of the Virginia Board of Education (Board), members received for First Review proposed Guidelines for Implementing the School Construction Assistance Program. This program was created through the 2022-2024 Biennial Budget during the 2022 session of the Virginia General Assembly where the legislature appropriated $400 million in general fund revenue into the School Construction Fund. Additionally, the General Assembly directed $50 million to be transferred from the Literary Fund into the School Construction Fund for the purpose of the Board to award grants from the School Construction Fund to local school boards seeking to construct, expand, or modernize public school buildings.
In the proposed guidelines from the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) that were discussed at the October Board meeting, the Board would award grants under the program for qualifying school projects submitted by school divisions based on various competitive criteria and their assigned point values. Under language in the 2022-2024 Biennial Budget, the Board is required to develop guidelines for the administration of the grant program that meets minimum requirements, including:
  • Awarding grants for projects that meet VDOE’s current school facilities guidelines.
  • Awarding grants for 10, 20, or 30 percent of approved project costs (project costs capped at $100,000,000), depending on the school division's local composite index and the locality’s fiscal stress category.
  • Awarding only one grant per submitted project.
  • Awarding grants for projects that meet a minimum qualifying score based on Board developed scoring criteria that incorporate criteria reflecting Commitment, Need, and Poor School Building Conditions. A minimum qualifying criterion score of 65 on a 100 point scale is proposed in the guidelines for a project to qualify for funding;
  • If qualifying grant award requests exceed available funding, grants are awarded based on ranked project scores on the criteria.
The competitive criteria must reflect the categories of Commitment, Need, and Poor School Building Conditions, as well as a minimum qualifying criteria score established for a project to qualify for funding. The guidelines proposed to the Board by the VDOE contain various criteria covering the three categories with assigned point values.

The Board is likely to address the assistance program on Final Review when it meets in November. This meeting is scheduled for November 17 in Richmond.
I encourage you to review the proposed guidance document by clicking here. You may submit any public comment regarding the assistance program directly to the Board at the following email address: [email protected].
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns with the proposed guidance, please send to me via email at [email protected]
There is no better way to prepare your delegation for the 2023 session of the Virginia General Assembly than to participate in the annual VSBA Take Your Legislator to School Month. There are many benefits from participating in VSBA Take Your Legislator to School Month, including developing closer relationships between school divisions, local communities, and our elected officials, as well as creating opportunities for productive dialogue so that educational and political leaders can work together to ensure that we provide the best possible education for our students. In addition, when legislators visit your schools as part of VSBA Take Your Legislator to School Month, local students will have the opportunity to interact with elected officials and learn about the important roles and responsibilities of Virginia General Assembly members. Almost like a field trip that is coming to your school, a visit by your local legislator creates many different “teachable moments.”
Please click here  to view the 2022 Take Your Legislator to School Month Guide where you will find resources to plan and execute a successful event, including tips and suggestions for the event, a sample invitation, a sample press release, and tips for meetings with legislators. You will also find a video announcement from VSBA President Teddy D. Martin, II. In addition to the guide, you may wish to view the 2023 VSBA Legislative Priorities as you plan your event. The priorities can be accessed by clicking here.
Thank you so much for all your advocacy efforts and your commitment to public schools in the Commonwealth. If there is anything I can do to assist you, please contact me at [email protected].  
Amherst County Public Schools has partnered with the Amherst Education Foundation and IRON Lives to engage in a community-building initiative called #ShowUpAmherst, funded by a generous grant donated by Glad. The purpose of this initiative is to engage the entire Amherst community in supporting the character development of the children in the Amherst community following the impacts of the pandemic on schools and the community. Schools serve as the cornerstone of the community, so ACPS wants to lead its students, staff, and families in recovering what was lost during the pandemic. Through positive messaging that encourages mutual support of all stakeholders, ACPS hopes to model positive character traits for students, such as civic engagement, communication skills, and collaboration.

#ShowUpAmherst kicked off at the start of the school year through social media. During September, the campaign highlighted students and staff who #ShowUp in a variety of ways, such as being engaged in learning, having good attendance, and making positive contributions to our school community. On September 30th, the division hosted a "Show Up Day" in all schools featuring fun activities for students -- that were kept a secret so that students had to #ShowUp to find out what was happening.

In the coming months, many activities are planned so that students can witness real-life examples of the character traits needed to be contributing members of a community. Each month will have a theme, such as encouraging students to be kind, thankful, or healthy. ACPS will be placing signs along car riders lines at schools designed to get families talking while they are waiting to drop off their students. Additional messaging materials will be strategically placed around the community with the goal of bringing people together and starting a positive conversation.

ACPS hopes that by involving the community in the #ShowUpAmherst initiative, families and community members will come to schools to support students in a variety of ways. Volunteers are always welcomed, but cheering on students at sporting events, science fairs, and fine art showcases are also great ways to #ShowUp and get involved. In return, Amherst County Public Schools hopes to #ShowUp for the community through volunteering, community service, and supporting business and nonprofit partners.
In each newsletter, VSBA will spotlight a recent initiative or best practice taking place in a school division in Virginia. If you have a story you would like to submit for inclusion in the spotlight section of the VSBA newsletter, please email it to [email protected] with the subject: Division Spotlight and your school division's name. Pictures and a link to the story on your division/school's website should also be included with the submission.
Two School Division Governance Teams Earn Master Board Designation
Manassas City School Governance Team
Earned in August 2022
Dinwiddie County School Governance Team
Earned in October 2022
Congratulations to the Manassas City and Dinwiddie County School Governance Teams for recently earning the VSBA Master Board designation!

Both governance teams attended four sessions totaling over twenty-five hours of professional development. The discussions, facilitated by staff of the Virginia School Boards Association, focused on team building, improving communication, listening, and board building behaviors.
News and Tidbits From Across the Country
Could Tutoring Be the Best Tool for Fighting Learning Loss?

In-school tutoring is not a silver bullet. But it may help students and schools reduce some pandemic-related slides in achievement. Send any friend a story As a subscriber, you have 10 gift articles to give each month. Anyone can read what you share.

Read more
How a High School Student Became a School Board Member

By Kaylee Domzalski - October 18, 2022 2:33 Shiva Rajbhandari, a senior at Boise High School in Idaho, was sworn in this September as a member of the Boise Schools Board of Trustees, becoming the first student to serve on that city's school board.

Read more
VSBA Affiliate Member Profiles
In each issue of the VSBA newsletter, three VSBA Affiliate Members will be featured.
Thank you for your support of the VSBA and Virginia's public education system!
Grimm + Parker Architects
Nationally recognized design firm offering 50 years of experience in sustainable architecture, educational planning and programming, and K-12 school design.

Paul Klee
(703) 903 – 9100
A leader in delivering Quality of Life services that enhance Student Well-being. We help the nation’s schools be vibrant contributors to the success of their communities by being a strategic partner to nearly 500 school districts.

Amy Oliver
(512) 660-8195
Howard Shockey & Sons, Inc.
Provides Preconstruction, General Contracting, Design-build, PPEA (public private partnership), and Construction Management Services for both New Construction and Renovation Projects.

Brad Bolyard
(540) 658-3454
Visit for a complete list of VSBA's Affiliate Members.
December 7-8, 2022
DETAILS: This webinar series focuses on Virginia public school budgeting. Webinar #1 discusses the roles of elected officials, fiduciary requirements, stakeholders, and budget reports and webinar #2 explains expenditures, including enrollment, staffing, salaries, and employee benefits. 
COST: $160 per registration or $290 for the complete series (multiple registrations needed if viewing from multiple devices/locations)
January 30-31, 2023
LOCATION: Downtown Richmond Marriott, Richmond VA
DETAILS: This year's two-day Capital Conference will kick off with a budget and economic outlook for 2023 with the latest update on the Commonwealth’s financial picture. New this year, after the budget presentation there will be a conversation between Former Virginia House of Delegate Chris Saxman and Dr. Bob Holsworth with their perspectives on the landscape of Virginia politics in 2023 and beyond. Following this session, attendees will hear from VSBA’s own, J.T. Kessler and Stacy Haney on the happenings at the Capitol for the 2023 Virginia General Assembly.
COST: $250
Thursday, January 31, 2023
LOCATION: Downtown Richmond Marriott, Richmond VA
DETAILS: These orientations feature experts presenting on a variety of topics that are specifically designed to assist you in seamlessly navigating your role and responsibilities. Join us and take advantage of this informative session where you will also hear from a panel of your peers about their very real experiences with overcoming some of the challenges that you may also be experiencing in your new role.
COST: $235
200 Hansen Road, Charlottesville, VA 22911
Tel: 434-295-8722 Fax: 434-295-8785