Newsletter 2020 Issue 1
2020 General Assembly Session
January 8th marked the beginning of the 2020 session of the Virginia General Assembly with a new majority party in control of the House of Delegates and Senate of Virginia. With new committee chairs, staff, and rules in each chamber, the focus of topics of debate will likely be different than sessions past. As usual, there will be many difficulties facing public education with the always challenging budget process and several pieces of legislation containing unfunded mandates. With a continued focus on education by the General Assembly, it’s important to have a strong, coordinated message that is communicated regularly to your state legislators.
During session, VSBA needs your assistance and active support to engage the public and your elected officials. The VSBA Lobbying Team will be working in the trenches discussing important legislation with Delegates and Senators in Richmond, but legislators want to hear from YOU! Your voice as a constituent and local leader is extremely valuable to them. So how do you communicate effectively, create a strong message and stay on topic?
  • Make personal, face-to-face contact with your legislators whenever possible. Remember to call ahead when you will be in town to meet with your legislators. If you can’t travel to Richmond, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone to have a conversation with them. The personal interaction is key to developing and continuing that strong relationship.
  • Time is always limited when meeting with your legislators. Be prepared by knowing the issues and having facts to support your position. If you don’t know an answer to one of their questions, be honest and follow-up with the answer after your meeting.
  • Be sure to know the basic legislative process. Your input about the local impact of legislation can be helpful at any time. However, be sure about when and to whom to lobby. Depending on where the bill is in the legislative process, concentrate your efforts on the appropriate members.
  • Always remember to be courteous to your member and respect their time limitations.

  • Legislative aides are an important part of the process. Even when you can’t talk directly to a legislator, speaking with their legislative aide is vital. They are most often advising the members on specific bills and preparing them each day for session.

Over the next few months, VSBA will be calling on you through various action alerts. When we put out an alert, we ask that you follow up with a call or email to your legislator(s) urging their support or opposition to a bill. Also, don’t forget to share VSBA’s legislative priorities which are available on the VSBA website . You can stay up-to-date on the happenings at the General Assembly through the VSBA Legislative blog, Facebook, or Twitter account and through the email action alerts sent throughout the session.
Communications Tip
Internal Communication

With limited time and resources, it can be a challenge determining where to best focus communications efforts. Do we build a new website, produce a division newsletter, enhance our social media presence, etc.? Considering that most school divisions are one of the largest employers in most communities and “word of mouth” is still the most common and trusted source of education related news (according to a Brookings Institution study), one of the best things you can do is improve your internal/staff/organizational communications. 

Think about all of the people your staff interact with, not only those who have ties to the schools (like parents), but also those who may not have direct ties to the schools (like retirees). As an employee of the division, your staff members are considered experts on what is taking place in the division, and you better believe that your staff has an opinion on division programs, goals, and leadership. Therefore, we need to ensure that our staff have up-to-date, accurate information, and that they feel that they are a valued part of the division. We can have the best web sites and slickest newsletters, but if our staff have inaccurate information or are saying negative things in the community, their “word of mouth” trumps all. 

School board members also play an important role in spreading positive “word of mouth” news. School board members should always have 4-5 talking points on good news happening in the school division. Did the band receive all superior ratings at festival, did the debate team win at regionals, did the elementary school celebrate Read Across America Day? Keeping these items at top of mind and sharing them whenever possible is an easy way for the community to learn of all the great things happening in your division.
VSBA Finance Manual
Once is not enough when it comes to gaining information about school finance and – just as important – the working relationship between the local school board and the local appropriating body. The VSBA takes pleasure in offering this updated and expanded edition of what has traditionally been known as its budget manual.
Because of the enlarged coverage and its implications beyond just budgets and the budget process, it has become and is now regarded as a finance manual. The VSBA offers it to its boards and board members as well as to school division staff and legal counsel as yet another resource, among many, that the VSBA provides in its efforts to encourage and promote even more informed and engaged decision-making and advocacy on behalf of the Commonwealth's school divisions. One of the most important governance functions of a school board, of course, is to provide leadership and oversight regarding financial matters. In these changing times, that function is more critical.
Take a moment to review the publication throughout the year, but particularly now as you are headed into budget season. Take time to get familiar with this aspect of governance.
Here is the link to the finance manual:
Please note that the finance manual PDF is password protected and the password was distributed previously to the VSBA membership and superintendents. If you are unable to locate the password, please e-mail Samantha Bosserman, director of communications and board development at [email protected].
2020 VSBA Showcases for Success
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, 116 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 2020, and these successful programs will be showcased on the VSBA web site for the entire year.
The focus of the 2020 VSBA Showcases for Success is  The Profile of a Virginia Graduate.
Each division can submit up to 3 programs/initiatives (simply use this form multiple times).
Submit online HERE .
Monday, March 2, 2020
Jessica Blythe, assistant director of membership services and communications, at  [email protected] or 434-295-8722
VSBA Affiliate Member Profiles
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.
Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates
Complete Services in the areas of
Educational Planning, Architecture and Engineering, Site planning, Interior Architecture, and Security Design.

Joshua C. Bower, AIA, LEED AP 
Phone: (434) 975-7262

American Fidelity
Strategic Employee Benefits, Section 125 Administration, 403(b) Administration ACA Education

Brian David 
Phone: (877) 518 2337

Successful Innovations
Successful Innovations is the creator of the National Family Engagement Summit, the largest family engagement conference for educators.

Darla Edwards  
Phone: (866) 946-0204
Visit for a complete list of VSBA's Affiliate Members.
January 13-14, 2020
LOCATION: Richmond Marriott
DETAIL: Advocacy by local school board members is a year-round job and even more important during the General Assembly. We will kick-off the two-day conference with an overview of the governor’s budget, commentary on the new political scene both in Virginia and nationally, and VSBA’s legislative priorities. Then join us in the evening for a reception that will provide you with an opportunity to mix and mingle with your legislators and top administration officials. The events on day one will help prepare you for your legislative meetings after breakfast on day two. The VSBA Capital Conference offers you an opportunity for your voice to be heard and continues VSBA’s efforts for year-round advocacy.
Sponsored by:
January 14, 2020
LOCATION: Richmond Marriott, Richmond
DETAIL: Becoming a new school board member or superintendent is an honor and a privilege. Enjoy a successful and less stressful transition by attending the VSBA Orientation for New Board Members & Superintendents. Many important topics will be covered, including ethics, school law, parliamentary procedure, budgets, board/superintendent roles, teamwork, and more. Don’t miss this popular event, which is a “must” for all new board members and superintendents!
Sponsored by: 
January 14, 2020
LOCATION: Richmond Marriott, Richmond
DETAIL: Every board member has a responsibility to make the school board effective, but the chair carries the heaviest responsibility since s/he was selected by peers to be their leader. Certain skills and actions simply are required if the chair is to get the job done properly. This workshop was developed to help the board chair and vice-chair (current or prospective) meet the requirements of the position and provide tools to assist you to build a better school board. Attendees are introduced to parliamentary procedure and legal requirements of board meetings. Participants will also engage in activities that develop critical skills to deal more effectively with the media and the public.
Don’t miss this popular event, which is a “must” for all new or prospective chairs and vice-chairs.
Sponsored by: 
January 16, 2020
DETAIL: The safety of those who occupy our school buildings is paramount, but in securing our facilities how do we err on the side of caution without taking it to the extreme? School planning and design experts will share lessons learned and best practices related to everything from hardening of schools to fostering the social and emotional well-being of occupants. Join us for this hot-topic webinar to learn how to accomplish your goal of keeping students safe while still maximizing their potential for learning and development.
January 21, 2020
DETAIL: This presentation will highlight the steps taken to clarify the desired outcomes for the establishment of the Office of the Ombudsman, discussions to define the role and requirements of the office, allocation of resources, establishment of office protocols, community response to the office, and a summary of the data and trends from our first year. Responses in the first year of the office were so strong, that the school board added an Assistant Ombudsman for Special Education and expanded the office’s duties to include support for all employees.
January 29, 2020
LOCATION: VSBA Offices, Charlottesville
DETAIL: With claims of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct hitting newsstands everywhere, Title IX coordinators and other senior staff need to be confident in their knowledge and enforcement of their divisions’ policies. Prevention and thorough investigations are the best ways to manage risk and foster a safe and healthy school environment. Participants will learn the basics of Title IX, best practices regarding Title IX policies, and recent case law relating to sexual harassment of students, gender discrimination, and employee training requirements.
Wednesday, February 12, 2020
DETAIL: #GoOpenVA goes public in January 2020, but it is only the very beginning of this new collaborative platform that will provide open education resources, community spaces, and support for teachers looking to personalize teaching for deeper learning. This session will provide an introduction to #GoOpenVA and what division leadership can do to get the most out of their participation.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020, 12:00 p.m.- 1:00 p.m.
DETAIL:If one of the most conservative cities in the country can produce one of the “greenest” school divisions in the country, then so can you. It’s all about changing the culture within your organization. During this presentation, you will learn how Virginia Beach City Public Schools is transitioning the school division towards a sustainable future. Attendees will hear from a Superintendent who grew up on the Chesapeake Bay and understands the impact that we are having on our natural environment, a Chief Operations Officer who approaches conflict resolution and culture change through the lens of an ex-Naval Aviator and Base Commander, and finally, an ex-Navy SEAL who, over the last eighteen years, has applied skills developed within the Special Operations community to achieve this critical mission objective.

March 18, 2020
LOCATION: Wytheville Meeting Center, Wytheville, VA
DETAIL: The Future Workforce: Empowering all Virginia's Learners for a Rapidly Changing World- How do we empower all learners today and prepare them for a rapidly changing world? A driving force behind this change is technology. It affects the way we live, the way the world works, and the kinds of skills people need to thrive. Technology also presents unique opportunities for learning. Come and examine the future of learning and explore how schools should be preparing graduates. This conference will bring together dynamic speakers addressing issues that are important and relevant to every school division regardless of locality.
For more information, and to view the 2020 yearly conference schedules please visit:
200 Hansen Road, Charlottesville, VA 22911
Tel: 434-295-8722 Fax: 434-295-8785