Newsletter 2024 Issue 2
Gina G. Patterson
Executive Director
From the Executive Director
"Excellence in the classroom begins with excellence in the boardroom."

In the realm of education, where decisions directly impact the lives of students and communities, the significance of effective school board governance cannot be overstated. The statement, "Excellence in the classroom begins with excellence in the boardroom," captures the core of the critical role school boards play in shaping the educational landscape. As we explore the dynamics of school board governance, it becomes evident that fostering a collaborative and constructive environment is crucial for the betterment of our school divisions and communities.

The landscape of school boards is continually evolving, with new members bringing diverse perspectives and ideas. In this context, it is essential to recognize the difference between healthy discourse and outright conflict. School board meetings, conducted in the public eye, provide a platform for sharing differing opinions. However, it is imperative to navigate these discussions with care, ensuring that disagreements do not escalate into conflicts. Board members can agree to disagree, but do so, agreeably.

Creating a safe space for dialogue is paramount. Members must learn the art of having respectful and constructive conversations, acknowledging that agreement is not always the goal. Instead, the focus should be on fostering an environment where everyone feels heard and respected. This involves cultivating the skill of agreeing to disagree gracefully, understanding that diverse viewpoints contribute to a robust decision-making process...
Join VSBA for an extraordinary Saturday Hot Topic Conference at the Williamsburg Lodge! We’ve listened to the needs of our valued membership and are thrilled to invite you to wake up with VSBA on a Saturday for an unforgettable day of growth and connection. This conference introduces you to “The Trust Edge Experience,” a trusted methodology employed by name-brand companies worldwide. Discover how it empowers organizations to cultivate high-performing teams while establishing a common language that enhances connection, clarifies objectives, and boosts productivity.

8:30 a.m.
9:00 a.m.
Welcome and Greetings
9:05 a.m.
The Case for Trust
The Pillars of Trust
10:15 a.m.
Refreshment Break
10:30 a.m.
The Pillars of Trust Continued
11:45 a.m.
Networking Lunch
12:30 p.m.
Applying the Pillars of Trust
1:00 p.m.
The Trust Shield
2:00 p.m.

Sponsored by:
Attendees are also invited to the President's Reception on Friday, March 22, 2024, from 6pm-7:30pm.
VSBA School Board News Podcast
Episode 58: VSBA 2024 March Hot Topic Conference
Listen to Episode 58 of the Virginia School Board News Podcast. In this episode, VSBA Executive Director Gina Patterson is joined by Lori Grant, Associate Executive Director for the Illinois Association of School Boards and the presenter for the 2024 VSBA March Hot Topic Conference. Gina and Lori discuss the importance of attending this year's conference and what tools attendees will gain from the Trust Edge Experience.
Samantha Bosserman
Deputy Executive Director
Trust - Communication - Understanding
School board members are seen as leaders and role models in our local communities. Consistently, board members are criticized and critiqued on board behaviors and responses to certain situations- and rightfully so, you are now public figures. Nothing prepares you for serving on a school board like actually serving as a member of the board, but there are some tools that not only new school board members should be prepared with, but veteran board members as well- to help your new team form and grow into a cohesive governance team. These tools are trust, communication, and understanding.

Trust forms the foundation on how successful governance teams operate. It is easy to say that school board members should trust one another, but in action, it is much more difficult. You will have members on your school board that look at trust from different lenses. One person may automatically trust until proven otherwise, while someone else may not trust until trust is earned. Neither of these is wrong or right, they are just different, and board members should be aware of the possibility that someone may view trust a bit differently than they do. Trust should be something that extends beyond the boardroom. While it is important for the board to trust one another, it is also important for the superintendent to trust the board, the board to trust the superintendent, and the community to trust the school governance team as a whole. How do you start to build trust on a governance team? Through communication and understanding...

*** Do you have a governance question or situation that you would like to see answered in an upcoming article? Send in your questions to [email protected] and you may see the topic in a future newsletter article. ***
VSBA President's Roadshow
VSBA President Dr. Cardell Patillo is hitting the road this year, touring every region of the Commonwealth on the 2024 VSBA President's Roadshow. The VSBA President's Roadshow is designed to extract insights into cutting-edge innovations and best practices in Virginia's public schools while addressing the challenges confronted by Virginia's school boards. The Roadshow provides a unique opportunity for school board members and superintendents to connect directly with VSBA's leadership.

During a Roadshow visit, your division will have the opportunity to meet President Dr. Patillo and share your opinions on education issues, ask questions of VSBA, and much more.

Since his visit in December, Dr. Patillo has made four more stops on the Roadshow in the month of February to celebrate and commemorate VSBA School Board Appreciation Month. During each of his visits, Dr. Patillo presented the school board members with a copy of the proclamation from Governor Youngkin formally recognizing February 2024 as School Board Appreciation Month.

Below is the President's Roadshow Schedule with additional dates being added as they are confirmed. If your school division would like to be considered for a Roadshow stop, please email Samantha Bosserman, VSBA Deputy Executive Director, at [email protected].
December 14, 2023 - Staunton City
February 1, 2024 - Charlottesville City
February 8, 2024 - Suffolk City
February 12, 2024 - Spotsylvania County
February 20, 2024 - Mathews County
March 8, 2024 - Caroline County
March 29, 2024 - Fredericksburg City
April 8, 2024 - Wise County
April 9, 2024 - Surry County
April 25, 2024 - Isle of Wight County
May 13, 2024 - Campbell County
May 14, 2024 - Buckingham County
May 15, 2024 - Prince William County
August 13, 2024 - Roanoke City
Click here for Press Release and Photos
Click here for Press Release and Photos
Click here for Press Release and Photos
Click here for Press Release and Photos
2024 COSSBA Conference Recap
From Gina Patterson, executive director

Virginia was well represented at the recently concluded Second Annual COSSBA National conference with numerous board members in attendance. COSSBA, the national school boards association representing Virginia, boasts membership from Virginia and 24 other school board associations across the county, holding the largest percentage of member states among similar organizations.

This year's conference, held in Dallas, Texas, provided a platform for Virginia School Boards Association (VSBA) officers to actively participate in the Annual Delegate Assembly, where they voiced their opinions on matters under discussion. Notable Virginia representatives included VSBA President Cardell Patillo, VSBA Past President David Woodard, and VSBA President Elect JoWanda Rollins Fells. Additionally, David Woodard currently serves as a member of the inaugural COSSBA Board of Directors.
Rodney Jordan, VSBA Co-Chair of the task force on students in schools in challenging environments, played a crucial role by serving on the COSSBA Urban Alliance (UBA) and presenting at the pre-conference event. The involvement of Virginia board members showcased their commitment to addressing key issues in education and contributing to the national dialogue.

Adding a touch of local talent, the students from Portsmouth City Public Schools P-Town musical entertainment group stole the spotlight as the opening act of the Friday opening general session. Their stellar performance left a lasting impression, making Virginia proud on the national stage.

For those seeking more information on COSSBA or details about upcoming events, the VSBA website is a valuable resource. The successful representation of Virginia at the COSSBA Annual Conference underscores the state's dedication to shaping the future of education and fostering collaboration on a national scale. As always, gratitude was expressed for the continued efforts of all those involved in the betterment of education.

Porte Towne Magic! from Portsmouth Public Schools
What is COSSBA?
Founded by state school boards associations in late 2021, the Consortium of State School Boards Associations (COSSBA) is a non-partisan, national alliance dedicated to sharing resources and information to support, promote and strengthen state school boards associations as they serve their local school districts and board members.

COSSBA is voluntary, non-partisan federation of state school boards associations focused on:

  • Support for the work of state school boards associations through effective staff collaboration, networking, and shared resources

  • Networking opportunities for local school board members and association board members to enhance the effectiveness of their work

  • Tracking and advocating for federal education issues and policies impacting local school boards and public education aligned with a statement of core values and beliefs of COSSBA

  • Federal judicial advocacy impacting local control and public education

To learn more, visit
Virginia Public Education Coalition Press Conference
Virginia School Boards Association President Dr. Cardell Patillo joined leaders from the Virginia Public Education Coalition (VPEC) at a press conference on Friday, February 2, 2024, at the Virginia General Assembly to discuss the state budget and to call on lawmakers to fund recommendations from this past summer’s Joint Legislative Review and Audit Committee (JLARC) which showed Virginia is lagging other states in its statewide portion of public-school funding. VPEC is comprised of 12 state education associations which work collaboratively to advance shared goals to improve the quality of public education in the Commonwealth.

Joining coalition members at the press conference were House Education Committee Chair Delegate Sam Rasoul and House Education Committee Vice-Chair Delegate Shelly Simonds who spoke on the need to fund the JLARC recommendations and increase the Commonwealth’s overall share for basic aid to public education.

Dr. Patillo spoke of the need to address students with disabilities and students who are in the most challenging environments. Patillo said, “The population of students with special needs is growing and the challenges these students face are great. Virginia must do more to support the education of one of our most challenged student populations by fully funding the state’s share of special education. Virginia also must do more to identify the true staffing needs in special education so our students with special needs can thrive!”
2024 School Board Appreciation Month
The Heart of Education: Our School Board
School Boards across the Commonwealth were honored for being the "Heart of Education" this month in celebration of VSBA School Board Appreciation Month. Thank you to all school board members for everything that you do and your commitment to building a brighter future for all students!

Check our these great School Board Appreciation Month videos:

Grant Opportunity!
Cybersecurity Plan Capability Assessment Application Now Available!
To celebrate and support a commitment to each child in Virginia's public education system receiving what they need and when they need it to advance positive student outcomes, the VSBA Board of Directors has designated the month of March as VSBA Equity in Education Month.

Analysis of student performance data since the COVID-19 pandemic indicates students from every part of our Commonwealth are striving to reach pre-pandemic academic levels. Additionally, large numbers of Virginia’s students are facing heightened mental health conditions. We must ensure that all students, no matter their zip code, area of the state they reside in, or size of their school division, receive the support necessary to achieve positive academic outcomes and well-being. When inequity in education persists, there is a cost to all involved, including missed opportunities for economic development, greater dependence on government support, and fewer Virginians ready to serve and lead.

School board members, superintendents, teachers, and families play a critical role in creating a climate and curriculum where all students receive the resources they need, so they graduate prepared for success after high school. School Boards may indeed be the genesis of transformation our students deserve.

The VSBA is excited to share that the Virginia House of Delegates presented a resolution in February 2024, commending the VSBA for recognizing Equity in Education Month and the associations contributions to the advancement of equity in public education throughout the Commonwealth. 
PSA from VSBA President Dr. Cardell Patillo for
Equity in Education Month
VSBA Federal Relations Committee 2024 Advocacy Institute
On February 12 – 13, 2024, members of the Virginia School Boards Association Federal Relations Committee (FRC) participated in the 2024 VSBA Advocacy Institute in Washington, D.C. The two-day event was kicked off by FRC Chair Diana Williams (Waynesboro City). Members of the committee also participated in sessions dealing with federal legislation, the current political environment in D.C., and advocacy strategies from VSBA Director of Legislative Services, J.T. Kessler, and George Mason University Political Science professor, Dr. David Rehr. These sessions helped prepare members for their day on The Hill.

On day two of the institute, FRC members met with the Education Policy team from Senator Mark Warner and Senator Tim Kaine’s office. Additionally, FRC members had meaningful discussions on issues related to education at the federal level with Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-1), Congressmen Bob Good (VA-5), and Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger (VA-7) joined committee members to solicit feedback from participants. Additional meetings with key congressional staff from each delegation offices were held throughout the day.

The FRC will continue to engage Congressional delegation members on the important issues facing our public schools throughout the year. 
2024 Session of the Virginia General Assembly
The 2024 session of the Virginia General Assembly convened at noon on Wednesday, January 10, 2024. The VSBA Government Relations team is excited to be back in Richmond advocating on behalf of school boards. We will send Legislative Action Alerts throughout the session and hope you will take the time to talk to your legislative delegations about important legislation being considered by the General Assembly.

In order to keep school board members abreast of legislative happenings, the VSBA Government Relations team will again host the Fridays from Richmond update each week during the legislative session at 3:00 p.m. To register for these updates, see the links below:

March 1, 2024:
March 15, 2024:

Please be sure to check out the VSBA Legislative Update Blog as well as the VSBA Facebook and X handles daily for real time information from the General Assembly. If you have questions regarding VSBA’s work at the General Assembly, you may contact VSBA Director of Legislative Services, J.T. Kessler, at [email protected]
J.T. Kessler
Director of Legislative Services
2024 Session Reaches Midway Point
The 2024 session of the Virginia General Assembly has met the critical stage of the legislative session with crossover, the deadline for each chamber to complete work on legislation originating in that chamber (except for the budget bill), taking place on February 13th.

House, Senate Budget Writers Unveil Spending Plans
The House Appropriations Committee and Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee released their proposed state budgets on February 18th. Included in both budgets are funds for compensation raises for SOQ funded positions. The House proposes a 3 3/8% increase in each year of the biennium. The Senate allocates dollars for a 3% raise effective October 1, 2024, and a 3% increase effective January 1, 2025.

Both budgets increase funding for At-Risk Add On and English Language Learners but take different approaches in addressing each matter respectively.

To view the K-12 Budget overview from the House Appropriations Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittee report, click here. To review approved budget amendments from the House Appropriations Committee, click here.

To view the K-12 Budget overview from the Senate Finance and Appropriations K-12 Subcommittee report, click here. To review approved budget amendments from the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee, click here.

The VSBA Government Relations team provides important updates on committee hearings and other noteworthy items during session on the VSBA Legislative Update Blog. Please click here to access the blog and check back often during session.

In the next newsletter, we will provide a greater overview of the final budget deal between the House and Senate as well as key pieces of legislation passed and defeated in the 2024 session. If you have any questions regarding legislation and the happenings at the Virginia General Assembly, please contact me at [email protected].

2024 Virginia General Assembly- Remaining Key Dates and Deadlines
  • February 28: Deadline for each chamber to complete work on other chamber’s budget proposal and revenue bills and appoint conferees.
  • March 9: Scheduled adjournment Sine Die.
  • April 17: Reconvened session for consideration of Governor’s amendments and vetoes.
2024 VSBA Business Honor Roll
Local businesses have the power to shape community attitudes about public schools, and the VSBA Business Honor Roll is a way for local school divisions to recognize local businesses for their support, especially as schools face increasing budget uncertainty. The Business Honor Roll helps divisions say “thank you” to these businesses for their vital contributions.

Businesses large and small, corporate-owned or family-run, play a key role in supporting our communities and local schools. They contribute to our school divisions in many ways, including helping schools with in-kind or financial contributions, donating to scholarship programs, supporting extracurricular activities, offering internship opportunities, volunteering in the schools, and sponsoring field trips. This type of support is invaluable.

If you are working with a local business or organization that deserves recognition, your division can nominate up to three businesses to the VSBA Business Honor Roll by passing a resolution (linked in the guide below) and submitting the online form to us by April 1, 2024. Please see the guide linked below for complete information, including submission guidelines. A signed resolution from the entire school board must be submitted.

Later this year, VSBA will publish the Business Honor Roll in the Association’s newsletter and recognize the businesses or organizations on the VSBA website. We also will mail personalized recognition letters of congratulations for each business and send the division contact a copy of the letter and electronic certificate(s) in time for boards to present to the businesses or organizations at a May school board meeting.

Please contact [email protected] or 434-295-8722 if you have any questions.
As a means of encouraging community awareness and positive press coverage of public education, the Virginia School Boards Association is inviting school divisions to recommend programs and initiatives that would serve as appropriate “Showcases for Success” in public education. Last year, 64 programs were profiled and the list was shared with journalists, school board members, superintendents, legislators, and top state officials. Press coverage was generated statewide, and this project served to be an effective tool for disarming the critics of public education. We are compiling a new list for 2024, and these successful programs will be showcased on the VSBA website for the entire year.

Each division can submit up to 3 programs/initiatives using the form linked here.

Friday, March 8, 2024, by 4:00 p.m.

[email protected] or 434-295-8722
Vendor Solicitations
We are aware that some members are receiving email solicitations from vendors. While we are grateful to our corporate sponsors and vendors who generously support many of our events, VSBA does not share the contact information of our members.  
School board member contact information is publicly available on most school boards' websites. If you are receiving unwanted solicitations, please contact the companies directly to opt out.
Thank you to the 2024 VSBA Business Affiliates
In each issue of the VSBA Newsletter, we will feature three VSBA Affiliate Members.
Thank you for your support of the VSBA and Virginia's public education system.
Thompson & Litton
Thompson & Litton offers an array of engineering, architectural, surveying, planning and construction services.

Heather Hess | 540-633-1897
U.S. BENCOR/MidAmerica
For more than 30 years U.S. BENCOR/MidAmerica have helped schools, cities, and counties save millions in payroll taxes each year with the administration of Special Pay Plans, FICA Alternative Plans, HRAs, FSAs, and Trusts.

Kurt Miller | 941-366-2779
Virginia Lottery
The Virginia Lottery is game for education. Since 1999, more than $7 billion has been contributed to Virginia's public schools. The Virginia Lottery: contributing to Virginia's future one play at a time.

Jennifer Mullen | 804-692-7770

March 14, 2024 - The Right to Read Screening
VSBA is thrilled to invite our members to an extraordinary event—an exclusive screening of "The Right to Read," a compelling documentary that explores the pivotal role of literacy and the challenges faced by students in accessing this fundamental human right. Make plans now to attend this FREE, exclusive event.

The evening will begin with a reception with Dr. Lisa Coons, Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction. After the screening, an in-depth panel discussion will take place. Attendees will have the opportunity to participate in the discussion and continue the conversation around fostering a culture of literacy in Virginia's schools and communities as it related to the Virginia Literacy Act.

Location: VSBA Office
Cost: Free

Saturday, March 23, 2024 - Hot Topic Conference
Join VSBA for an extraordinary Saturday Hot Topic Conference at the Williamsburg Lodge! We’ve listened to the needs of our valued membership and are thrilled to invite you to wake up with VSBA on a Saturday for an unforgettable day of growth and connection. This conference introduces you to “The Trust Edge Experience,” a trusted methodology employed by name-brand companies worldwide. Discover how it empowers organizations to cultivate high-performing teams while establishing a common language that enhances connection, clarifies objectives, and boosts productivity.

Saturday's presentation will begin at 9am. Attendees are also invited to the President's Reception on March 22, 2024 from 6pm-7:30pm at the Williamsburg Lodge. This reception is included in the conference registration.

Location: Williamsburg Lodge
Cost: $190 per registration. Please reach out to your school division clerk to register for this event. For affiliate members, please reach out to Mikaela Coffey for registration at [email protected].
200 Hansen Road, Charlottesville, VA 22911
Tel: 434-295-8722 Fax: 434-295-8785