Newsletter 2022 Issue 3
Executive Director
Gina G. Patterson
From the Executive Director
The VSBA represents school boards' interests before the state legislature, Congress, state and federal agencies, and the Administrations at all levels of government. Founded in 1906, the VSBA is a private, voluntary, nonpartisan, self-supporting organization. The primary goal of the VSBA is the advancement of education through local citizen control of, and accountability for, the public schools throughout the state. Local school division policy is decided by locally elected/appointed school boards that are directly accountable to the communities they serve. The mission of the VSBA is to provide member school boards with services, training, and advocacy so that they may exercise effective leadership in public school governance on behalf of the children they serve. This mission has been the same for the past 115 years.
Each year the VSBA lobbying team heads to Richmond on behalf of the association to lobby for/against positions set out by the membership. The VSBA Delegate Assembly held each year in conjunction with the VSBA Annual Convention is where all legislative policy and resolution statements are discussed, debated, and adopted. It is here at the VSBA Delegate Assembly that the directives of the VSBA Board and staff are given. Each member school board elects one member to represent them at the Delegate Assembly each year. The work of the VSBA Delegate Assembly is like that of state legislatures and Congress enacting statutes. The Acts of the Delegate Assembly are binding on the VSBA Board and staff. The legislative policies and resolutions adopted identify the positions that the VSBA lobbying staff must promote on the various issues contained in each. 

Sometimes, individual board members are not happy with the association or staff for its lobbying certain issues that are against their own personal politics or preferences or not aligned with a position a particular board has taken. Please know that the positions taken by staff and promoted to the membership result from a majority vote of school boards and their representative at the VSBA Delegate Assembly each November. We are aware that local boards should and do develop their own legislative agendas each year, that may not always exactly align with the Association’s position. There is no way that the VSBA Board or staff could represent each (847) board members' viewpoints. VSBA is an association of "school boards” and represents the viewpoints of school boards as determined by their representative to the VSBA Delegate Assembly. VSBA staff does not decide on what legislative positions it lobbies for or against each session. VSBA staff lobbies based on the legislative positions handbook that is the direct results of positions taken each year at the delegate assembly by a vote of the majority. For example, VSBA was founded on the belief of local control, it has been a position forever. What this means is if there is any piece of legislation pending in the general assembly, that may take authority from a local school board, our position is to lobby against it. It has less to do with the policy being addressed in the pending legislation and more to do with the state taking the control from the local board.
In December, a copy of the current VSBA Legislative positions was sent to all, If there is currently a position that VSBA has, that your board is not in agreement with, the board has the opportunity each year to bring modified positions before the delegate assembly for possible change. The first step would be the board voting to forward the amendment to the VSBA legislative positions committee, from there the committee based on a majority would send to the VSBA Board of Directors for approval to move on to the Delegate Assembly. At the Delegate Assembly for approval or denial by most of the attending delegates. Each board member in the state has the same amount of representation at the Delegate Assembly, no matter the size. VSBA realizes that boards change and as a result from time to time we need to remind all how the association develops our legislative positions.
Going forward VSBA staff will make sure to add a disclaimer on every legislative alert that goes out to our members (The VSBA Executive Director and lobbyists are in daily contact discussing legislation and policies that drive the Association’s lobbying efforts, including the decision to send action alerts to the membership. The Association's lobbying efforts are based on positions contained in the VSBA Legislative Positions Handbook that is approved each year by the VSBA Delegate Assembly. Local school boards are not bound to this handbook and can adopt local positions on legislation and policy.)

Thanks for all that you do. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me, VSBA President Teddy Martin, or any member of the VSBA Board of Directors with questions or concerns.

Your school division needs you, your superintendent, and your attorney to participate in the 2022 VSBA School Law Conference! Why?

The answer is simple, many of the decisions you make have legal implications that will impact your school division for years to come. The conference will kick off with a presentation on providing specialized reading instruction to students with special needs. Following this presentation, is a session on how to hold public meetings calmly during times of controversy. Next, hear about staff free speech issues. To close out, there will be a legislative update from the VSBA lobbyist team.

Attend this hybrid session to be informed and prepared!

This event earns 10 VSBA Academy Credit points. For more information on the VSBA Academy Credits and Awards please click here. More information on the meeting can be found in the meeting brochure and on the VSBA website. If you have any questions, please contact Mikaela Coffey, Coordinator of Board Development, at [email protected].
The Virginia School Boards Association is holding a personal essay/speaking contest where the finalists will have an opportunity to present before an audience of more than 300 school board members and administrators at the 2022 VSBA Conference on Education held at the Richmond Delta Marriott on July 19, 2022. This years topic is Food Security. 

This is the second year the Virginia School Boards Association will hold this contest. The goal is to bring out the very best in students’ writing and speaking efforts while also allowing attendees to witness examples of the bright, thoughtful, and accomplished students from around the Commonwealth. 

Thanks to a generous donation from an anonymous sponsor, this year's top 3 finalists will each receive a $1,000 scholarship. Submissions are open to all Virginia public high school students (grades 9-12), and is a great opportunity to share their unique voices as well as compete for funds to further their education. 

The deadline to submit is Friday, May 6, 2022.

For questions, please contact Brittany Moore, membership services coordinator, at [email protected] or by calling 434-295-8722 x2. 
J.T. Kessler, Government Relations Specialist
Unable to Reach Budget Deal, General Assembly Adjourns
The 2022 session of the Virginia General Assembly adjourned on Saturday, March 12 without lawmakers reaching an agreement on a two-year spending plan for the 2022-2024 biennium budget. House and Senate leadership worked diligently to negotiate a final deal in the waning days of the 2022 session but the divide between the House and Senate spending plans could not be agreed upon. At odds are each chamber’s proposals regarding the size and scope of tax reform.

In addition to the budget, there are over 40 pieces of legislation being negotiated by conference committees comprised of members of the House and Senate prior to adjournment. House Joint Resolution 455, passed by the general assembly on March 12, allows the budget bills and other legislation pending in conference committees at the time of adjournment, to be brought back before the legislature during a special session later this spring. A special session has been called by Governor Glenn Youngkin to begin on April 4.

Notable pieces of legislation involved in conference committee negotiations:

Laboratory Schools

SB 598 (Pillion)/ HB 346 (Davis) contain different language regarding the role of school boards in the establishment of laboratory schools in the Commonwealth. As passed by the Senate, SB 598 permits any public institution of higher education and any nonprofit private institution of higher education that is eligible for the Tuition Assistance Grant Program to establish a college partnership laboratory school as a new school or through the conversion of all or part of an existing school. SB 598 also requires applications for formation of a college partnership laboratory school to describe how the applicant will cooperate with local school boards, including allowing the local school board to elect to name a board member to the governing board of the college partnership laboratory school, and to include assurances that the applicant will work with the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia to develop programs that may award college credits.

As passed by the House, HB 346 permits any public institution of higher education or private institution of higher education to apply to the Board of Education (the Board) to establish a college partnership laboratory school as a new school or through the conversion of all or part of an existing school. Under current law, only public and private institutions of higher education that operate approved teacher education programs are permitted to apply to the Board to establish such a school and no explicit provision is made for the conversion of an existing school. HB 346 does not include school boards as part of the collaborative agreement.

School Construction

SB 471 (McClellan) modifies provisions governing use of the Literary Fund, including establishing a competitive program for subsidizing school divisions’ loan closing costs, establishing an annual open application process for Literary Fund loans, creating a loan-add on to incentivize projects resulting in school consolidation, and setting interest rates that are benchmarked to a market index, with rates set on a sliding scale based on school divisions’ local composite indices and capped for localities with the least ability to pay. The House added a reenactment clause to the bill, which was incorporated into the conference committee report.

SB 473 (McClellan)/ HB 563 (O’Quinn) take two different approaches to meeting school capital needs. As passed by the House, HB 563 requires the Department of Education, in consultation with the Department of General Services, to develop a data collection tool to assist school boards in determining the relative age of each school building and the amount of maintenance reserve funds necessary to restore each building. The bill also establishes the School Construction Fund to be used for awarding grants to local school boards for construction or renovation of expansion of school buildings and dedicates otherwise-uncommitted casino gaming proceeds to the School Construction Fund.

Additionally, SB 473 establishes a School Construction Fund and dedicates casino gaming proceeds to the Fund; the bill specifies maximum grant amounts for school boards based on school divisions’ local composite indices.

School Staffing

SB 490 (McClellan) requires each school board to provide at least four specialized student support positions per 1,000 students (current standards require three of these positions per 1,000 students). The House revisions to this legislation incorporates staffing requirements for principals and assistant principals funded in the House budget.

The VSBA Executive Director and lobbyists are in daily contact discussing legislation and policies that drive the Association’s lobbying efforts, including the decision to send action alerts to the membership. The Association's lobbying efforts are based on positions contained in the VSBA Legislative Positions Handbook that is approved each year by the VSBA Delegate Assembly. Local school boards are not bound to this handbook and can adopt local positions on legislation and policy.
The James River Experience
"We had the best time and our kids haven’t stopped talking about it. This was the best field trip experience I have been on as a teacher." This is just one of the many positive emails I have received following an outdoor field experience with the James River Association (JRA). In the summer of 2021, Henrico County Public Schools was awarded a $20,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. Through this grant, Henrico had the unique opportunity to provide fourth grade students in ten of our Title I schools with an engaging field experience led by the educators at the James River Association. This field trip supports the study of watersheds and Virginia's Natural Resources (SOL 4.8). In addition, this trip directly connects to their Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE) plans and our goal of ensuring that our students are environmentally literate stewards who understand the importance of protecting our watershed. While watersheds are a primary focus, students are also learning about the wetland ecosystem and the numerous species of plants and animals that call the James River their home.
Through this partnership with JRA, students and teachers were able to participate in a variety of activities to expand their understanding of our James River watershed. Prior to their field trip, students participated in an interactive virtual lesson to meet the JRA educators and learn important background information that would support their learning during the field experience. During the lesson, students explored a map of Virginia and its bordering states and identified the sources of water in Virginia. They reviewed the four major rivers, James, York, Rappahannock, and Potomac, and identified how all of these rivers flow into the Chesapeake Bay and eventually into the ocean. Through a 360 interactive, students were able to dive into the James River and explore the plants and animals that live underwater. The students were engaged throughout the Nearpod lesson and were more prepared to extend their learning on the upcoming field experience.

On the day of the field trip, students traveled to Deep Bottom Park in Varina, VA where they participated in two stations to explore both the land and the water. On land, students were able to take a short hike to a location where they could see the James River on one side and Four Mile Creek on the other. On this silent hike, students listened carefully and made observations about the land and water around them. They heard the crunching of the fall leaves on the ground and owls communicating in the distance. They observed bird houses that have been installed to increase the number of prothonotary warblers on the James River. Students saw a great blue heron standing very still on the bank of the river hunting for fish to eat. They saw plants growing out of the water and tall marsh grasses blowing in the wind. Students shared their observations and asked questions about the ecosystem they were exploring. They learned how wetlands filter water, absorb excess runoff to prevent floods, and provide habitats. Students also selected leaves from the ground and made observations to identify from which tree the leaf fell. The JRA educators discussed native and invasive species of plants and explained the important role that plants play in our local watershed.
Henrico County students getting hands-on experience while participating in a variety of activities to expand their understanding of our James River watershed.
Students also had the opportunity to explore the James River from The Spirit of the James, a 45 foot pontoon boat. For many of our students, this was their first experience riding on a boat and exploring the water. As the captain navigated the boat down the James, the students made observations and were very inquisitive. When they spotted a bald eagle, the educators explained the effect that a pesticide called DDT had on the bald eagle population and how a species that was near extinction is now thriving on the James River. They learned that the brown color of the water is a result of sediment pollution caused by erosion which prevents sunlight from reaching the underwater plants. Without adequate sunlight, underwater plants can not do photosynthesis, which impacts the producers in the river food chain.

The students were so excited when the captain announced that we would be catching some fish today! The educators led a discussion about animals that we may find in the James River and students predicted what they may catch in the net. After trawling with the net for a few minutes, students worked together to pull in the rope. All eyes were focused on the net as they tried to figure out what they had caught. The educators carefully placed the fish into clear bins filled with water so that all students could make observations and use the laminated picture guides/keys to try to identify the fish they had caught. Students and teachers loved being able to touch and hold the fish! What a catch! Catfish, crab, hogchoker, carp, bowfin, and more! The JRA educators discussed each fish that we had caught and reviewed the behavioral and physical adaptations that help each fish to survive in their habitat. Students learned that the variety of species we collected in the trawl net is an important indicator of the health of the James River.
This field experience provided hands-on, relevant, and engaging information that encouraged students to be good stewards of the environment. As part of their Meaningful Watershed Education Experience, students complete an action project to help our James River Watershed and bring awareness to the need to conserve this important natural resource. Using the most current State of the James Report from James River Association helps our students to identify an area of focus. Some action projects include painting storm drains, making posters, filming public service announcements, and cleaning up litter on the school grounds. This field experience on the James River enhances the students' understanding and interest in protecting this amazing resource that is in their own backyard. 
Application Process for Nomination and Election of Regional Officers
Nomination of Regional Officers
Elections of VSBA Regional Officers take place at the Fall Regional Meeting held in conjunction with 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 will be 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:
  • Eastern Region
  • Southside Region
  • Southwest Region
  • Valley Region
VSBA Profile in Leadership- Meet James Bryant, VSBA Central Region Chair
The VSBA would like to invite you to participate in the tenth annual Food for Thought Competition, a friendly competition between Virginia’s school divisions to showcase their programs that combat childhood hunger, provide healthy school meals, and encourage wellness and physical activity. There are three separate competition categories. You may apply to be recognized for the division’s efforts in the following categories:

  • Meal Access to Fight Hunger
  • Healthy School Meals
  • Wellness/Physical Activity

Please complete a separate application for each program. If your school division was recognized as a winner previously, you may not submit an entry for the same program.

Entries will be accepted online via survey monkey. Please complete the entry form and submit your entry at the link found here:

All entries must be submitted, by survey monkey, by the deadline of May 26, 2022.

Please provide a valid e-mail address when completing the survey form. This is how we will communicate with you about your entry.

Questions? Please contact Brittany Moore, membership services coordinator, at 434-295-8722 or email [email protected].

Thank you to our sponsor:
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.
Dedicated to enhancing the lives of the citizens in the communities it serves by responding to their need to be engaged, educated, entertained.

Elmer Seward: (757) 470-3911
Spectrum Design, P.C.
Architectural and Engineering Services

Amy Lucas, Marketing Manager: (540) 342-6001
American Fidelity
Our goal is to act as an extension of your human resources department. We educate, enroll, support the development of competitive employee benefits packages with year-round support. We have been helping schools just like yours across the nation

Brian “Putty” David: (724) 322-4812
200 Hansen Road, Charlottesville, VA 22911
Tel: 434-295-8722 Fax: 434-295-8785