Newsletter 2021 Issue 5
Executive Director
Gina G. Patterson
10 Tips for New School Board Members

The VSBA would like to take this time to welcome all new school board members and welcome back those incumbents who won their elections. The following 10 tips for New School Board Members is based on the advice of seasoned board members who’ve learned through experience the pitfalls of being new on the board. Don’t forget, your association, VSBA, is here for you, so please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-800-446-8722.
  1. Go slow in the beginning, especially if you have come to the board to “reform” it. Chances are you will feel differently about a lot of things in six months.
  2. Remember that the only authority you have lies in the corporate action of the school board. You have no legal authority to act alone unless the board as a whole specifically delegates a task to you.
  3. Do not let your differences of opinion degenerate into personality conflicts. Nothing is more devastating to good board procedures than to have one member vote for an action just because another member voted against it.
  4. Give the superintendent and staff your public support. Use one on one meetings with the superintendent to iron out differences of opinion or to ask clarifying questions ahead of the school board vote.
  5. Keep out of teacher/personnel problems. The board hired a superintendent to take that responsibility.
  6. Make an effort to be informed. School business is always important business and big business. To be informed requires time and effort. Ask questions of your superintendent as you feel the need.
  7. Welcome people who come to see you about problems. Listen carefully, then refer them to the appropriate person according to board norms and protocols. Remember that you may be hearing only one side of the story. Do not make any promises or say you will “fix” anything.
  8. Accept your job on the board as one of responsible leadership in the community. You will be expected to attend and participate intelligently in many public meetings on school issues. This is more than an opportunity, it is an obligation to interpret school affairs to an interested public. Use your position on the board to help form public opinion and create active, intelligent support for education in your community.
  9. Commit to your own learning. Take time to listen, learn, and build your understanding as you begin to share your own ideas. Attend trainings, VSBA meetings, read books and periodicals to learn about the complex legal and educational issues facing your school division.
  10. Stay focused on students and their achievement. Ensure that every decision you make as a member of the board is made through the filter “What’s best for all students in the division.”

Thank you for all that you do and we look forward to seeing you soon. 

Left: Recipients of the 2016 Regional School Board Member of the Year Awards.
Right Top: 2014 Recipient of the Board of Distinction Award, Manassas City School Board
Right Bottom: 2017 Recipient of the Board of Distinction Award, Middlesex County School Board
Application Process for Regional Officers
Nomination of Regional Officers
Elections of VSBA Regional Officers take place at the Fall Regional Meetings which will be held virtually the week prior to the VSBA Annual Convention. In 2015 the VSBA Delegate Assembly voted to change the regional positions from a one-year to a two-year term. For those regions that will be holding an election this year, a nominating committee was formed and announced at your Spring Regional Networking Forum. Those interested in serving as chair or vice-chair of the region should complete the application form and contact the members of the regional nominating committee. The regions below will be looking for nominations for a chair and vice-chair for a two-year term:
  • Central Region
  • Northeastern Region
  • Southern Region
  • Tidewater Region
VSBA Co-Hosts Crumbling Schools Tour
VSBA is proud to be one of the cohosts for the 2021 Summer Crumbling Schools Tour. The tour dates and locations have begun to be announced and will continue to be updated with times and additional details. The tour information as available is listed below. For more information, or if you have any questions, please reach out to J.T. Kessler at
Registration is Open for the VSBA Conference on Education
Tuesday, July 20, 2021- 9:00 am to 1:45 pm
Join hundreds of school division leaders from across Virginia at the 35th Annual VSBA Conference on Education. We are pleased to have Governor Ralph Northam in attendance, with our afternoon keynote presentation from the Aldrin Foundation!

All attendees will have the opportunity to choose from several mini-workshops highlighting successful practices in Virginia’s public school divisions.

There will also be a time for socializing and learning from our business affiliates that will be participating in the annual Affiliate Trade Show. The winners of the Food for Thought Competition, Workforce Readiness Awards for 2021, and first-ever VSBA Student Essay Contest will also be presented and announced.

We hope you make plans to join us at the 35th Annual VSBA Conference on Education!

Please reach out to your school division clerk to register for this event. For business affiliate members, please reach out to Mikaela Coffey for registration at (Registration for VSBA meetings is only open to VSBA members and affiliate members.)

To view the brochure, click here. For questions or more information, contact Mikaela Coffey, Coordinator of Board Development at or 1-800-446-8722.

Thank you to our sponsor, Quinn Evans!
J.T. Kessler, Government Relations Specialist
Lawmakers to Convene Second Special Session of 2021
The Virginia General Assembly will convene a second Special Session on August 2nd to allocate $4.3 billion in federal stimulus funds received through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. It is expected lawmakers will fund several initiatives including aid for small businesses, unemployment claimants, and communities without broadband access. Lawmakers will also consider appropriating stimulus dollars for school construction and modernization during the session. It remains unclear at this moment the amount of stimulus dollars the legislature will dedicate to school construction and modernization during the Special Session. However, lawmakers have signaled a desire to further address this issue when the new legislature is seated in January 2022.
With the special session on the horizon, please consider using the summer months to educate your delegation regarding any additional needs that have not been addressed by monies previously received from the COVID-19 relief packages passed by Congress in 2020 and 2021. The federal stimulus dollars, combined with rising state revenue, could provide great opportunities for overdue investments in current and future education priorities. Each school division has unique needs, and we encourage school board members to make these needs known to their members of the Senate of Virginia and Virginia House of Delegates prior to the convening of the special session.
The VSBA Government Relations team will monitor all legislation filed by lawmakers during the Special Session and issue important Action Alerts as warranted.
If you have any questions regarding the information in this article, please do not hesitate to contact me at or 434-295-8722 ext. 116. Thank you for all your advocacy efforts during the legislative session.
Petersburg City Public Schools Unveils a Mobile Family Resource Center
Submitted by Petersburg City Public Schools
On Friday, April 23rd Petersburg City Public Schools (PCPS) unveiled their newest endeavor called The PCPS Wave bus.
What was once a normal school bus has now been transformed into a mobile resource center for students and their families. PCPS had been working on The Wave bus for about two years before its unveiling. The concept behind the bus is to serve as a mobile library, career center, resource distribution center, information hub, and as an internet cafe. The goal is to meet the community where they are instead of having the community come to them. The reason for this is because PCPS recognized that not everyone has a source of transportation to get themselves and their family to a fixed location resource center. The hope is to eventually position the bus in front of the local Target and Walmart to meet families there because it can't be assumed that parents will know about everything happening in the schools.

The building of the engagement bus was supposed to start at the beginning of the academic year, but it was postponed due to the transition to virtual learning which was caused by the pandemic. Fortunately, in the second semester, the school system restarted the renovation and completed the bus in time for the end-of-year exams and summer festivities. The district spent roughly $75,000 to get the bus fully operational, which included adding a generator, air conditioner, furnishings, electronics, and resource materials.

The Wave bus is a retrofitted school bus that has been transformed into a student and family support resource center. The bus will visit all parts of the city of Petersburg, and it will be a part of events held by churches, non-profit organizations, apartment complexes, neighborhoods, and local government. “The PCPS Wave bus will go where our families are, and it will facilitate a higher level of engagement with students and families we serve,” said Dr. Pitre-Martin, superintendent of Petersburg schools.

Visitors will have the ability to print and fax documents, check out books, register for library cards, and connect to Wi-Fi that extends to anyone within 300 feet of the bus. The bus is outfitted with two laptops, an iPad offering digital versions of national and local print publications, and a variety of library books. The traditional bus seats were removed and were replaced with cushioned seats with storage compartments and tables. The exterior of the school bus, called “The Wave,” is painted white, yellow, and with a red wave for the high school’s Crimson Wave mascot and school colors.

“We are so excited to launch The PCPS Wave bus and the direct service and support it will provide,” said Dr. Maria Pitre-Martin.

The bus is set to travel on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays in June and July and will add Mondays in August. After school starts in the fall, it will travel only on request. The bus will be staffed by the support team and volunteer parents, who will park in various areas and be available to teach students and answer questions from parents. Reading and math activities have been developed for the students, including the use of large inflatable dice, logic games, and vocabulary development. The learning activities on the bus are going to be based on what teachers and school administrators notice students need more practice with. The district also wants to support parents by providing help with writing resumes. Templates will be provided as well as lessons on the “do’s and don’ts” of what to have on a résumé.
Application Process is Open- 2021 VSBA Advocate for Education Award!
The importance of advocacy and grassroots engagement is a central component of the Virginia School Boards Association. It is imperative for board members to engage the stakeholders of their community including parents, business, community and higher education leaders, local community organizations, and policymakers in the work of building a successful public-school system in each community across the Commonwealth.

VSBA invites your board to nominate a member for the annual VSBA Advocate for Education Award, to be presented at the VSBA Annual Convention in November. This award was created to recognize school board members who have demonstrated significant and outstanding leadership, commitment, and contribution to public education that has impacted their region, the Commonwealth, and who have actively participated in local, state, and federal advocacy on behalf of their division, VSBA, and public schools.

Each local school board may submit one name/nomination for consideration. The nomination must be approved by the school board, and the nominee must be a current school board member. Nominations are due no later than Friday, July 30, 2021. Nominations will undergo a review by the selection committee which will determine the award winner.

Thank you for your continued interest in advocacy and all you do to support public education! Please contact J.T. Kessler if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions.

VSBA would like to extend a special thanks to our award sponsor, ABM.
Two Additional School Board Have Been d
Designated as VSBA Master Boards
Since early spring, the Governance Teams in Franklin City and Fredericksburg City have been working toward completing the VSBA Master Board Program. The full School Board, as well as their Superintendent, met to take a deep dive into team and trust-building, communications, managing change, ethics, and working together as a team to benefit every child.

"The commitment from both of these teams was inspiring," said Gina Patterson, VSBA executive director. "They truly recognize that a successful school division begins with a School Board and Superintendent that are themselves committed to excellence and growth." There is now a total of four school boards across Virginia with the designation of VSBA Master Board with another three currently working through the program.
VSBA Profile in Leadership- Meet Diana Williams, VSBA Board of Directors, Valley Region Chair
When am I going to use this?
By Andy Davidson, Financial Life Cycle Education Corp
“When am I going to use this?”
High school mathematics teachers are frequently confronted with this challenge from students. From bisecting an angle with a compass and straight edge, to the strange “±” sign in the quadratic formula, students often do not see the connection between the mathematics they are learning and the life they are living. The connections are there, but are well hidden from students behind the abstractions of our approach to teaching mathematics.

“I wish I learned this in high school.”
Since I work in finance, friends often ask me financial questions, such as, “Should I buy bitcoin?” or “Are interest rates going up or down?” Seldom do people ask me about the questions that I think are important: “How much do I need to save for retirement?” “How much insurance do I need?” When I discuss the principles involved in evaluating financial decisions, they often wonder why they didn’t learn those concepts in school.

The mathematics course we have developed at the Financial Life Cycle Education Corp, called FiCycle for short, addresses both issues. It addresses high school mathematics standards (related to Algebra II, Probability, Statistics, and Modeling) while providing students with an understanding of the principles of personal finance and the mathematical tools needed to apply those principles to real decisions throughout their life.

The course is organized around understanding the ideas of wealth and consumption. Drawing on the “Life Cycle Hypothesis” of Nobel Prize winner Franco Modigliani, we focus on how people can transfer wealth across time: borrowing to transfer wealth from the future to the present to fund consumption now, and investing to transfer wealth to the future for retirement and other needs we may have later in life. We also show how the transfer of wealth across time creates risk and describe how to measure and manage that risk.

All of this takes mathematics: starting with basic numeracy and understanding percentages, fractions, and decimals, and extending to exponents and logarithms, probability, and regression. When students see this math in the context of finance, they never ask “when will I use this?” In fact, students find that they even enjoy mathematics.

Here's an example. In math class, we are taught the distributive rule, but you probably don’t remember it. However, we can teach the same rule using finance. For example, if you have $1000 and you earn 8% interest, how much money do you have at the end of one year? There are two ways to solve this:
  1. You can add the 8% as a decimal to 1 and get 1.08 and then multiply that number by $1000 and get $1080, or
  2. You can add the 8% interest on $1000, which is $80, to the original $1000 and get $1080.
Two different ways to get the same answer. Shown this problem and the connection between the two solutions, a student exclaimed: “I like this math!” Who wouldn’t? While this is the same distributive rule, it has a purpose and that purpose drives engagement and understanding.

Why do we have high school students asking, “When will I use this?” and graduates saying, “I wish I had learned this”? We can address both the students and the graduates, and at the same time improve mathematics education.

Every student deserves access to high quality personal finance and mathematics education. While many schools have adopted personal finance courses, research shows that personal finance without mathematics may not be achieving the intended goals. Personal finance courses increase student confidence in making financial decisions but do not necessarily increase skill in financial decision-making.

Financial literacy education leads to more financial actions, but not always better financial outcomes. Adding mathematics improves the quality of the decisions as well as the amount of financial engagement. This should be clear; imagine learning the physics of launching a rocket without mathematics. Talking about force, mass and acceleration is not the same as learning Newton’s Laws. Similarly, financial decisions have a mathematical component. For example, evaluation of the risk of an investment is improved with an understanding of probability and standard deviations.

The FiCycle Math course is intended to be a third-year or fourth-year high school math class either as an alternative Algebra II class or as a math elective. The digital course materials are available for free for the first year of that the course is adopted. Nominal charges in future years support our development efforts.

Let’s combine math and personal finance for all of our students.

Andy Davidson is the Founder of Financial Life Cycle Education Corp (FiCycle), a not-for-profit that works with educators and organizations to equip all students with the mathematical and financial skills and understanding necessary to navigate their financial life cycle and meet and exceed state requirements in mathematics. Learn about FiCycle’s curriculum, lessons, research, and resources at
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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.
The LandTek Group, Inc.
Founded in 1979, LandTek is a New York based, self-performing general contractor that specializes in our core competences in sports facility design and construction. The company has since expanded to service the entire East Coast of the USA with hubs in New York, Florida and Virginia.

Matt Ward  
Phone: (631) 691-2381

RRMM Architects, P.C.
Professional/Architecture Planning Interiors

Duane Harver  
Phone: (757) 622-2828
Secure Futures Solar
Offers on-site commercial-scale resilient solar power solutions. Secure Futures leads the field in making solar energy affordable to universities, schools, hospitals and others operating in the public interest.
Nicole Duimstra  
Phone: (804) 767-0572
Visit for a complete list of VSBA's Affiliate Members.
Tuesday, July 20, 2021
LOCATION: Virtual Conference
DETAIL: Join hundreds of school division leaders from across Virginia at the 35th Annual VSBA Conference on Education. We are pleased to have Governor Ralph Northam in attendance, with our afternoon keynote presentation from the Aldrin Foundation! All attendees will have the opportunity to choose from several mini-workshops highlighting successful practices in Virginia’s public school divisions. There will also be a time for socializing and learning from our business affiliates that will be participating in the annual Affiliate Trade Show. The winners of the Food for Thought Competition, Workforce Readiness Awards for 2021, and first-ever VSBA Student Essay Contest will also be presented and announced. We hope you make plans to join us at the 35th Annual VSBA Conference on Education!
Cost:$195 per registration (multiple registrations needed if viewing from multiple devices/locations, VSBA Academy Credit Points will NOT be awarded for any individual not registered)

Tuesday, September 14, 2021
LOCATION: VSBA Offices in 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.  
For the first half of the workshop, 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. In addition, participants will walk away equipped with tools to help administrators spot, prevent, and investigate claims of unlawful discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. For the second half of this workshop Sands Anderson will provide the required training for Investigators and Decision-Makers as well as provide board members with an understanding of those roles. The new federal Title IX Regulations effective in August 2020 require basic levels of training for school division employees. The Regulations also require so-called “Level II” training for professionals who will serve as school divisions’ Investigators and Decision-Makers as those terms are defined in the Regulations. This training will review the basic level training, but will also focus on the areas of training required for this sub-set of professionals, including topics such as proper investigation, impartiality, relevancy, the use of technology in hearings (if conducted), and the scope of divisions’ educational programs. This second half of the workshop is designed to address the requirements for Level II training.
Cost:$170 per registration

Wednesday, October 6, 2021
LOCATION: VSBA Offices in Charlottesville
DETAIL: Are you prepared to evaluate your Superintendent? Register now for the Superintendent Evaluation Workshop!
The Guidelines for Uniform Performance Standards and Evaluation Criteria for Superintendents developed by the Virginia Department of Education provide a wealth of information regarding the requirements. Filtering through this document to determine what is required and what is optional requires focused attention. For some, the changes to their current evaluation model may be minor, while others face major revisions in order to be in compliance with the regulations.
This workshop is designed to provide small group support to superintendents and board members responsible for assessing and updating their evaluation model. Participants will have the opportunity to review the guidelines in detail and then use them as they draft their own models. Individual consultation and support will be provided after the session as participants work on their revisions. Seats are assigned on a first come, first serve basis and are limited for this workshop. Register today, full governance team participation is encouraged for this workshop!
Cost:$175 per registration

Thursday, October 21, 2021
LOCATION: VSBA Offices in Charlottesville
DETAIL: The Basics of Budgeting for Equity is a two-hour session designed to provide school board members and division superintendents with a general understanding of the essential elements of budgeting and allocating division resources in a strategically-focused manner that aligns with and supports the individual needs, goals and aspirations of students. Specifically, this session will provide a general overview of student-centered resource allocation models that are intended to promote equity. In addition, during this workshop we will look at a number of resource allocation/distribution models that are being utilized in school districts around the country to support the individual needs of students and schools based on multiple objective and measurable student characteristics. Finally, this session will provide school board members with a comparative view of a traditional budgeting with that of a student-centered resource allocation system.
Cost:$175 per registration
200 Hansen Road, Charlottesville, VA 22911
Tel: 434-295-8722 Fax: 434-295-8785