Newsletter 2023 Issue 8
Gina G. Patterson
Executive Director
From the Executive Director
As we approach the VSBA Annual Convention, I want to take a moment to address certain misconceptions and false accusations circulating regarding the VSBA and its influence on local school divisions' policies. It is essential to set the record straight and clarify our role before we delve into the exciting details of our upcoming convention.

Addressing Misconceptions:

Contrary to these inaccurate claims, I want to emphasize that the VSBA does not have control over the policies of local school divisions. The services we offer, including policy development and support, are entirely optional and at the discretion of each individual board.

It is important to understand that the sample policies provided by the VSBA are designed with two key principles in mind:

1. Compliance with the Law: Our sample policies are crafted to ensure compliance with state and federal laws. They serve as a valuable resource to help local boards align their policies with legal requirements.

2. Customization and Flexibility: These policies are presented as samples, and local boards have the freedom to make decisions about how to utilize them. Boards can choose to implement them as written, modify them to suit the specific needs of their community, or opt not to use them at all.

In summary, to claim that the VSBA controls, directs, or creates any local division's policies is patently false and intentionally misrepresents the nature of our services. We are here to provide guidance and support, but the ultimate decisions regarding policy will continue to rest with each local school board.

If you have any questions or concerns about our services or policies, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. We are committed to working collaboratively with all our member boards to ensure their needs and objectives are met.

Looking Ahead to the 2023 VSBA Annual Convention:

We are thrilled to announce that registration for the 2023 VSBA Annual Convention is open and ready for your participation. This year's convention will be held from November 15th to 17th, at once again, the picturesque Williamsburg Lodge in Williamsburg, VA.

Our convention kicks off with an Early Bird Workshop focusing on School Infrastructure on Wednesday morning, November 15th. The popular Student School Board Representative session will also take place on Wednesday morning. As the full convention officially begins at 2:00 p.m. on November 15th, we anticipate the presence of over 1,000 leaders from Virginia's education community. They will have the opportunity to partake in more than 45 informative breakout sessions and engage with our lineup of inspirational and thought-provoking General Session Speakers.

Our breakout sessions will delve into critical topics such as school safety, artificial intelligence, legislative updates, board governance, and school law. We are especially excited to host a joint panel discussion on Thursday morning, featuring the President of VSBA and the President of VACO, offering valuable insights and perspectives.

We are pleased to announce that the VSBA Delegate Assembly is back in person this year and is scheduled for Thursday, November 16th. Comprising one delegate from each member school board, the Delegate Assembly is the legislative heart of VSBA. It is here that we adopt our rules of procedure, receive reports from VSBA standing and special committees or task forces, and consider recommendations from the VSBA Board of Directors.

Thank you for your continued support and dedication to improving education in Virginia. We eagerly anticipate your presence in Williamsburg from November 15th to 17th. The 2023 VSBA Annual Convention promises to be a memorable and enriching experience for all who attend.

Samantha Bosserman
Deputy Executive Director
The Importance of Ongoing Board Development
When discussing Board Development and Board training opportunities, we sometimes receive feedback including; “Our board doesn’t need board development, we are doing okay” or “we don’t have time to add another meeting to our schedules.”

While I understand that schedules are complex and have heard the adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it," prioritization of your own professional development and team building is critical. Do you go for your annual physical each year? Think of board development as an opportunity for a check up and a check in. Team building and board development is integral to maintaining the health of your team.

Board development sessions provide the board with the opportunity to step away from the day to day to learn about governance, board protocols, and to learn a little more about the people around them in the boardroom. Each board member comes to the table with a different set of experiences, beliefs, and values however the work of the board takes place when individual board members come together to make collective decisions. The decisions that the board makes have an impact on the lives of students and staff in your schools- this is very important work! However, it is difficult to do this hard work if you do not know and understand the human sitting next to you.

Does your school board have a new school board member or perhaps a new Superintendent? Every time you have even just one new member, your team dynamic changes. Board Development training is a great opportunity to get together and start to rebuild your team. When new members come on board it is also important to review your board norms and protocols to see if they need adjusting or updating. These norms and protocols were set by a former team and the new team should have the opportunity to review, ask questions, and make changes as needed.

Board Development training should be seen as an opportunity to build and strengthen your team, no matter how long your team has been together or how many members have participated in training in the past. Investing time and energy in team building and governance training sets a strong foundation for your team to learn to work together for the students in your community. 
JT Kessler
Director, Legislative Services
Commonwealth Releases General Fund Revenues for Quarter One of Fiscal Year 2024
Governor Glenn Youngkin’s office released numbers for revenue collections into the General Fund (GF) for September 2023 and provided an update on first quarter revenue collections for Fiscal Year 2024. The Youngkin Administration reported that GF revenues for September 2023 remain in line with updated revisions to the official revenue forecast. In comparison to the revenue forecast assumed in the amended budget, year-to-date total general fund revenues are ahead by $412.1 million, primarily due to higher non-withholding revenues. All major sources of revenue are generally in line with or ahead of projections. 

For the month of September, GF revenues were up 51.9 percent on an unadjusted basis. Year-to-date through September 30, general fund revenues are up 17.9 percent over the prior year. Adjusting for policy and the timing of refunds related to the Pass-Through Entity Tax (PTET), September revenues increased by 9.4 percent and are up 8.6 percent year-to-date. Adjusting for policy, but excluding PTET adjustments, revenues are up 4.0 percent through September.  

The full September 2023 revenue report is available here

During presentations to the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee regarding the September 2023 report held in mid-October, Secretary of Finance, Stephen E. Cummings, stressed optimism in the year-to-date collections but cautioned lawmakers on potential problems that could impact future revenue collection numbers. He cited international turmoil, a government shutdown, additional interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve, and a cooling in the labor market brought upon by continuing labor strikes as factors that could affect revenue collections for the rest of the fiscal year.

Cummings added that as the Youngkin Administration prepares its biennial budget, all potential impacts to incoming revenue will be considered. Governor Youngkin will unveil the 2024-2026 budget to the General Assembly on December 20, 2023.

To review the Economic and Revenue Review presentation from Secretary Cummings, click here.
November is VSBA Take Your Legislator to School Month
There is no better way to prepare your delegation for the 2024 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. 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 2023 Take Your Legislator to School Month Toolkit 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 David Woodard. 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 you need any assistance or have questions regarding VSBA Take Your Legislator to School Month, please contact JT Kessler, Director of Legislative Services, at [email protected].
PSA from VSBA President, David Woodard
Special Announcement:
Governor's Attendance Confirmed for Thursday Morning General Session
We have some exciting news to share with you regarding our upcoming Annual Convention! We are pleased to announce that Governor Youngkin has confirmed his attendance at the Thursday morning General Session. He will be addressing the membership from 9:45 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. The General Session will begin promptly at 8:30 a.m. Please stay tuned for further updates on the convention schedule, additional guest speakers, and any important announcements. We look forward to seeing you all there.
Introducing the VSBA Be Kind Initiative
The VSBA Be Kind Initiative is an open invitation to all members of the school and community to partake in celebrating kindness.

We deeply appreciate the commitment of school board members who work tirelessly to equip our students with the tools they need to thrive, while also exemplifying positivity and leadership. Our campaign underscores the importance of kindness in every facet of our endeavors.

As board members, we actively engage with the concerns of students, staff, and the wider community, consistently demonstrating empathy and cherishing the unique perspectives of each individual. Whether we are shaping policies, engaging in daily interactions, or making choices in our personal lives, kindness remains the cornerstone. Each considerate conversation, every display of empathy, and all instances of support reaffirm our dedication to fostering a more compassionate and all-encompassing world.
The journey toward a kinder world begins with us, and the VSBA Be Kind Campaign stands as an opportunity to honor and celebrate kindness. We urge everyone to infuse kindness into every decision and interaction.
PSA By President David Woodard
VSBA Be Kind Initiative Video
Celebrate Kindness at the VSBA Annual Convention
Stop by the VSBA Be Kind Booth directly across from registration at the Annual Convention to learn more about the initiative and to participate. Free Be Kind wristbands will be given out to all who visit the table. Add a note to the Kindness Wall and take a photo with a kindness prompt. Use the hashtag #bekindva to share on social media and beyond.
Tom Brewster
Director, Member Services
The Rhythms of Kindness: How Classic Songs Reflect and Inspire Compassion in School Board Service
In today's challenging world, the Virginia School Boards Association's Be Kind initiative underscores the importance of kindness. Kindness in decision-making can foster cooperation and unity among school board members. Music, with its evocative power, serves as an ideal medium to emphasize this message. Hence, we present an official "kindness playlist" that comprises seven songs, each emphasizing the values of empathy, respect, and compassion.

"Lean on Me" by Bill Withers
School board members are more than decision-makers; they act as the backbone of support for each other and the school community they serve. This song embodies the spirit of being there for one another.

"What's Going On" by Marvin Gaye
This song resonates with the duty of school board members to understand and empathize with the challenges faced by their community. It's imperative for them to actively listen, seek understanding, and be agents of positive change.

“Humble and Kind” by Tim McGraw
School board members prioritize humility and kindness in all interactions irrespective of the positions held or the complexities of decisions faced. By doing so, board members not only set a positive example for the community they serve but also pave the way for more compassionate, understanding, and productive discussions.

"We Are the World" by USA for Africa
Unity equates to strength. When board members unite for a shared goal, their collective impact can be transformative.

"Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey
Hope and optimism are key. While challenges are a given, board members, with a kind-hearted approach and positive mindset, can surmount any obstacle.

"We Are Family" by Sister Sledge
For school board members, the school division and the wider school community are akin to a family. Mutual respect and collaboration can drive success.

"Keep on Smiling" by Wet Willie
A song that underscores the transformative power of a smile and positivity. Even during turbulent times, a simple smile can change the ambiance and instill hope. For school board members, it's a poignant reminder that even amidst adversity or disagreements, a positive disposition can be instrumental in fostering constructive dialogues and solutions.

Each of these songs uniquely amplifies the core values of the "Be Kind" campaign. For school board members, these songs serve not only as melodic reminders but also as testaments that kindness goes beyond mere sentimentality. It is, in fact, an actionable commitment capable of reshaping the landscape of school governance. 
Legally Mandated Training for School Board Members
Virginia law requires three types of training for school board members.
COIA Training
EVERY school board member is required to complete a training session for local officials on the State and Local Government Conflict of Interests Act (COIA) provided by the Virginia Conflict of interest and Ethics Advisory Council (the Ethics Council) within two months of assuming office and at least once every two years thereafter.
FOIA Training
Every ELECTED school board member is required to complete a training session on the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provided by the Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council or the Board’s attorney within two months of assuming office and thereafter at least once every two calendar years. The FOIA Council provides both in-person training opportunities and on-line training which can be accessed here. Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom of the page to get to the information about training for local elected officials such as school board members.
Record Keeping for FOIA and COIA training
School board clerks are responsible for keeping track of when each board member completes the required FOIA and COIA training, so be sure to let your clerk know when you complete the required training.
Professional Development Required by the Standards of Quality
Va. Code § 22.1-253.13:5 (aka Standard 5) establishes that every school board must require its members to participate annually in high-quality professional development activities at the state, local, or national levels on governance. That training may include, but isn’t limited to, personnel policies and practices; the evaluation of personnel, curriculum, and instruction; use of data in planning and decision making; and current issues in education. Virginia law does not specify how much training school boards members must get each year or what counts as the required professional development; each school board must make those decisions for itself. Local school boards follow a wide variety of processes for deciding what counts as the required professional development. Some have board members submit requests before a program is attended. Others approve the professional development when they vote to approve the expenditure for the fee for the program. What process to follow is a local decision. The important thing is that every board decides which trainings satisfy the legal requirement and that every member receives the required training.
Does Your School
Division Have Talent?
COSSBA is thrilled to announce we are looking for student groups to perform at the 2024 Annual Conference in Dallas, Texas. We will embrace all categories of the performing arts with open arms! Whether you are into dancing, music, acting, or singing, you are more than welcome to participate and showcase your incredible talent!
Video for School Board
The linked video may be shared with school board candidates who are looking for information about serving on the school board. Please feel free to distribute this video through your community to possible candidates or those considering running for school board!

We hope that you find this video helpful. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to VSBA by emailing [email protected] or by calling
Conducting a Local Board Orientation Guide
We are excited to share with you a valuable new resource that has been developed to facilitate the onboarding process for new school board members. At the Virginia School Boards Association (VSBA), our commitment to supporting effective governance in education extends beyond advocacy and training. We are pleased to introduce our latest publication: "Conducting a Local Board Orientation for New School Board Members."
This guide was crafted to assist you in acclimating new board members to their roles, responsibilities, and the local educational landscape. We believe that a well-structured orientation program is essential for the success of your school board, and this publication is designed to serve as a practical, step-by-step manual to ensure a smooth transition for new members. For any questions or further assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out to the VSBA. Our team is here to support you every step of the way.

Additionally, we'd like to remind you of an important upcoming event. On Tuesday, January 23, 2024, we will be hosting a VSBA New School
Board Member/Superintendent orientation session at the Delta Hotel in Richmond. This session is an excellent opportunity to supplement the local orientation process and provide your new board members with a broader perspective on statewide issues and trends in education. We strongly encourage you to sign up your new members for this session to enrich their understanding of their roles.

If you have any questions, please reach out to us at [email protected] or call 800-446-8722
In an era where hands-on experience is valued as much as classroom learning, public schools are seeking innovative ways to bridge the gap between academia and the professional world. Gloucester County Public Schools is working to support student success and provide pathways for students with real world experiences within the Gloucester community. The Gloucester Cooperative Education Program (GECP) is an initiative that partners with businesses to provide students with invaluable externships, internships, and work-based learning. This program not only enhances students' practical skills but also nurtures a culture of collaboration between schools and industries, ultimately preparing students for a successful transition into the workforce.

The Gloucester Cooperative Education Program was conceived as a response to the evolving requirements of the Virginia Department of Education and the needs of the modern job market within the Gloucester community. Traditional education models, while crucial, may not provide some of the challenges students face in their future careers especially in the trades field. Recognizing this, Gloucester County Public Schools took the bold step of partnering with local businesses to provide students with real-world work experience.

With the help of the Gloucester Education Foundation grant funding, the Gloucester Chamber of Commerce, the Work-Based Learning Coordinator, and local businesses, the GCEP program has developed pathways for junior and senior students to gain valuable experience in the trades workforce. Students submit requests for work opportunities or staff at Gloucester High School send information about students to the coordinator. Students are then placed within positions that they have an interest in. Businesses also reach out to inquire about the possibility of taking on a student worker through internships. Students have been placed in positions from Wal-Mart to working in clerical jobs in the school district’s central office. There has even been a student who served as a paraprofessional in a special needs class during her senior year.

With the framework set up of the program and local companies showing support, the Skilled Summer Trades Camp was born. The Skilled Summer Trades Camp had several goals in mind: 1) provide a paid, hands-on opportunity for students to learn about a variety of skilled trades careers, 2) help students identify areas of skilled trades they best fit, 3) expose students to the day-to-day requirements of careers in this industry, 4) provide students with pathways to future employment through partner companies. There was an application process for students and several businesses participated. The camp provided learn and earn opportunities where students rotated through six skilled trade areas.

At the heart of the Gloucester Cooperative Education Program are the externships and internships. Placements offer students the opportunity to work directly with professionals in their chosen fields as well as gaining experience for a deeper understanding in industry. The GCEP has also provided Career Expos at Gloucester High School in the gym where students and businesses come together during the school day to investigate potential careers.

The Gloucester Cooperative Educational Program does provide benefits to students who participate in the opportunities offered.

1.   Skill Development: Through hands-on experience, students gain practical skills that are highly sought after by employers. This includes not only technical skills specific to their field but also transferable skills such as communication, teamwork, and problem-solving.
2.   Networking Opportunities: The program provides students with a valuable opportunity to network with professionals in their industry. Building these connections can be instrumental in securing future job opportunities.
3.   Increased Employability: Graduates have found themselves with an advantage position in the job market. Employers value candidates with relevant work experience, and this program provides just that.

The Gloucester Cooperative Education Program stands as an example of the potential for collaboration between high schools and businesses. By providing students with hands-on experience and invaluable industry connections, this program is instrumental in shaping a workforce that is not only knowledgeable but also adept at applying that knowledge in real-world scenarios. As other districts seek to bridge the gap between education and industry, the Gloucester Cooperative Education Program serves as a pathway for students to gain knowledge and skill sets for their future.
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.
Application Process for Regional Candidates
According to the VSBA Bylaws, Article XII, Section 3, A Nominating Committee will be appointed by the Chair of each Region at or prior to its annual spring meeting in any year in which there will be a vacancy in an officer position. It will be the duty of this Committee to select a slate of nominees for the offices of Chair and Vice-Chair. Members of the Nominating Committee will not be eligible for nomination to any regional position. The slate shall consist of no more than two candidates for each office and be presented to the membership at the next annual fall meeting of the region. Nominations may be made from the floor. By a majority vote of the member school board it should notify the Chair of the Region and the region member school boards of an intended floor nomination prior to the fall regional meeting. It shall be the duty of every candidate to provide a written nomination, approved by the candidate’s school board, and a signed letter from the candidate confirming willingness to serve.

Please note that according to section 103.1, Board of Directors Composition, VSBA Operations Manual, no member school board may have more than one person serve on the Board of Directors at the same time. Goal 3 of the VSBA Strategic Plan is“[t]o increase engaged participation of member boards and stakeholders in all VSBA services and activities”. To achieve that goal, the VSBA Board strives for 100% member board representation in governance activities. Also enclosed in the below linked packet is section 102.5 of the VSBA Operations Manual, Civility in the VSBA nominating and election process.

The below linked packet, approved by the VSBA Board, complies with VSBA Bylaws requirements. Regional Vice-Chair candidates are not required to submit the pertinent biographical information unless they so desire. Persons who wish to be considered by their respective Regional Nominating Committee for the VSBA regional chair position must submit both the completed form and pertinent biographical information. Since Regional Chair and Vice-Chair positions are two year terms, Eastern, Southside, Southwest, and Valley regions do not have openings for the Chair positions in 2023.

All candidates’ information must be forwarded no later than two weeks prior to the fall regional meeting held at the VSBA Annual Convention in Williamsburg. The 2023 Regional Nominating Committees list is included in the below linked document. If you have any questions, please call your VSBA Regional Nominating Committee Chair.

Please return the nomination form and attachments by November 1 to the VSBA Nominating Committee. If you have any questions about the process, please call Gina Patterson, Executive Director, at 1-800-446-8722
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 2023 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.
Branch Builds, Inc.
We provide superior construction services and innovative solutions, enhancing the vitality of the communities we serve. Branch applies Virtual Building Technology to the delivery of our preconstruction and construction services.

John Gardner | 540-989-5215
HES Facilities Management
HES Facilities Management is a privately held business with regional locations across the country. Our leadership has decades of experience providing custodial and facilities management services to educational facilities ranging from Public Education's K-12 school districts to higher education institutions.

Russell Leboff | 804-380-7466
RRMM Architects, P.C.
Professional/Architecture Planning Interiors.

Duane Harver | 757-622-2828

November 15-17, 2023 - VSBA Annual Convention
Don’t miss out on VSBA’s Annual Convention, the celebratory end-of-year gathering! This event is the largest meeting of the year, which brings together over one thousand school board members, superintendents, and school division staff from across the state of Virginia. Over the three day convention, attendees will hear from three different general session speakers, choose from over 45 hot topic breakout sessions pertinent to public education issues, have the opportunity to meet with businesses dedicated to serving schools, and much more. We look forward to seeing you in November!

Location: Williamsburg Lodge
Cost: $390 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].

This webinar is a must for all newly elected/appointed school board members as well as for anyone wanting to get a better understanding of their responsibilities when it comes to budget and finance for local school divisions.

This webinar is the first in a two-part series or can be a stand alone on school budgets and finance from an expert in the field. Topics covered will include the roles of school board members when it comes to the budget, fiduciary requirements, stakeholders, budget reports, state revenue formulas, federal funding, local funding, and tax rates. 

Cost: $160 per registration or $290 for the complete series (multiple registrations needed if viewing from multiple devices/locations).
Date and Time: December 5, 2023 12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m.
Presenter: Leigh Burden, Assistant Superintendent of Budget and Finance, Fairfax County Public Schools

Session two in the budget basics and finance webinar will focus on expenditures, including enrollment, staffing, salaries, and employee benefits. There will also be an “odds and ends” of school division finance to include audits, school activity funds, quarterly reports, fund balances and misinformation when it comes to school budgets and finance.

Cost: $160 per registration or $290 for the complete series (multiple registrations needed if viewing from multiple devices/locations).
Date and Time: December 6, 2023 12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m.
Presenter: Leigh Burden, Assistant Superintendent of Budget and Finance, Fairfax County Public Schools

January 22-23, 2024 - VSBA Capital Conference
Join us for an exciting two-day journey at this year’s Capital Conference! We have an array of engaging sessions and discussions lined up to provide you with valuable insights into the 2024 General Assembly. 

Location: Richmond Delta Marriott or Virtual
Cost: $260 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].

There are few elected or appointed positions as crucial to the future of our communities as school board members. VSBA is here to empower you in your new role and ensure you hit the ground running. In addition to the core curriculum, our VSBA Annual New Member Orientation Training recognizes the importance of your individual voice and your role within a governance team. We believe that your unique perspectives and contributions are invaluable to the success of your local school board. 

Location: Richmond Delta Marriott or Virtual
Cost: $245 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].

Are you stepping into the role of School Board Chair or Vice-Chair for the first time, or have you been in either position for a while and are seeking to enhance your effectiveness? If your answer is yes to either of these questions, this session is tailored just for you!

During this orientation, you’ll have the opportunity to learn from experts who will cover a wide range of topics, all carefully curated to help you navigate your responsibilities seamlessly. Whether it’s fostering productive relationships with your superintendent, managing interactions with the local media, understanding parliamentary procedures, or addressing legal matters, our orientation has you covered.

Location: Richmond Delta Marriott
Cost: $245 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