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Celebrating Easter at sunrise

Numerous churches across Halifax County will be hosting Easter Sunrise Services on Sunday morning to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. Many will begin as early as 6 a.m.

Groups appeal for town funding

Of those appearing before Council, Jewell Medley of the United Way made a first-ever request from her agency for funds. Whereas the UW for years was supported by donations from…

Local Visitor Center garners honor from state association

The South Boston/Halifax County Visitor Center has received the “Visitor Center of the Year” award given annually by the Virginia Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus (VACVB).

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Principal changes made in Mecklenburg

SoVaNow.com / May 22, 2013
Mecklenburg County superintendent of schools James Thornton has announced the appointment o f three new principals, all of whom are already employed by the county school division. The promotions were made public Monday night at the meeting of the Mecklenburg County School Board.

Michelle Powell, who is currently the principal at Park View High School, will move to the principal position at La Crosse Elementary School. Her assistant principal at Park View High School, 28-year-old Paige Kindley, will assume the job of principal there, and Chris Coleman, who was the assistant principal at Bluestone High School until he was deployed to Afghanistan, has been tapped to replace current principal at Bluestone High School, Kristy Somerville.

Somerville was recently named the head of Career and Technical Education and Secondary Curriculum for Mecklenburg County Schools.

Before coming to Mecklenburg County in 2010, Coleman was an elementary and middle school assistant principal, Cumberland’s truancy officer, alternative education director, track coach and James River District 2010 Coach of the Year.

In other business:

• Technology upgrades for students, buses and school security were discussed, and will be voted on at the June meeting of the Board.

Ralph Mulleins shared what he said is the need to upgrade the district buses with a new GPS tracking system. He explained that the current system was created in 1980.

“I think we can all agree that safety and efficiency are the two most important aspects of pupil transportation. Currently, when a child gets on a school bus in the afternoon, we lose visibility of that child until we see them the next day at school. Upgrading our transportation software and implementing GPS will help provide Mecklenburg County Public Schools with an extra layer of protection that provides us with an increased level of safety in knowing where our kids are and that they were dropped off at their designated location. There is also a great benefit to the community in being able to answer the most common parent phone call question ‘Where is my child?’ in real time with the click of a button,” Mulleins explained.

The new GPS monitoring system costs around $100,000, he said in response to questioning from Trustee Glenn Edwards, and will be paid from “leftover stimulus money.”

A GPS device will be mounted under the dash and on the outside arm of each bus, thereby allowing a controller, seated in front of a computer screen, to track all buses in real time. He or she will see the exact location of every bus in operation on a computer screen. The controller will quickly know when or if a bus is running behind schedule to better communicate with parents and the schools.

Mulleins said the program has a secondary benefit, in that it can be used to design routes that are more efficient and safe for both the riders and the drivers.

• Heard a recommendation on ID badges for all school employees and students.

Quoting from Dr. Carol Griesdorf of the National Education Association, Mulleins, next explained why he is recommending the school system adopt them”

“Why badges you ask? It gives everyone on campus an official capacity; it affirms everyone belongs there, and staff is much more likely to control access. It makes a non-student or intruder feel really out of place.”

The PVC badges will be custom designed for each school. For safety reasons, they will be hung from the neck using a “break away lanyard,” said Mulleins. In addition to a photo of the badge holder, each badge will contain a barcode for “streamlining future projects like food service (allow students and staff to make lunchroom purchases or indicate eligibility for free lunch), quick media center checkouts of books, technology, sporting events entry and security access to buildings.”

The cost to outfit each student, teacher, administrator and other employee with a security badge is around $21,000, said Mulleins, and like the GPS units, the expense will be paid using leftover stimulus funds.

• Considered the purchase of new computers.

Mulleins’ final presentation was on the procurement of additional computers for elementary and middle schoolers.

“We are set to continue the 2 to 1 project at the elementary schools and the 1:1 project for 6th grade,” he said. The 2 to 1 project provides every two students in kindergarten, first, third and fifth grades and every student in the sixth grade with a computer to use in school. Kindergartners and first graders will have access to an Apple iPad, while students in the thirrd and fifth grades will have access to a netbook.



During Phase I of the project, 170 Apple iPads were purchased for the second grade students and 190 netbooks were provided to fourth grade students, both on a 2 to 1 ratio.



As part of Phase II, the sixth grade students will have access to a new computer, called a Chromebook. A Chromebook is a personal computer that is designed to be used only while connected to the Internet. Any information can be stored on the cloud – a Web-based service which hosts all the programs the user would need – instead of on the machine itself.



Mulleins told trustees that “Mecklenburg County Schools believes that to more effectively prepare students for life in today’s 21st Century, they must be engaged and learning at school in the same fashion that they are engaged and learning outside of school. Because technology pervades all aspects of today’s society, this means being adaptable to innovation, digitally savvy, and virtually connected.”

Thornton added that the nearly $450,000 needed to purchase these computers would come from a Virginia Public School Authority grant of $350,000 and $90,000 in technology money held back for this purpose.

• Learned of likely decreases in Title I and Title II monies.

Tracey Rogers, director of elementary instruction, shared the news that both Title 1 and Title II monies from the federal government will, most likely, be reduced for the coming fiscal year. All school systems will most likely see a 10 percent reduction in Title 1 monies and a 5 percent reduction in Title II monies from the U.S. Department of Education, Rogers said.

Title I is the federal program that provides funding to local school districts to improve the academic achievement of disadvantaged students. Disadvantaged students are those who come from low-income families, are in foster homes, are neglected or delinquent, or who live in families receiving temporary assistance from state governments.

Title II money is primarily used to prepare, train, and recruit high quality teachers and principals.

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Comments

Is this really necessary?
"Michelle Powell, who is currently the principal at Park View High School, will move to the principal position at La Crosse Elementary School. Her assistant principal at Park View High School, 28-year-old Paige Kindley, will assume the job of principal there, and Chris Coleman, who was the assistant principal at Bluestone High School until he was deployed to Afghanistan, has been tapped to replace current principal at Bluestone High School, Kristy Somerville."
Four individuals named, but one intentionally called out because of age? Is this the news' lame attempt to start controversy that a 28 year old is going to be leading a school in the county? How about Powell, Somerville, and Coleman - how old are they? Wait, that isn't news and it doesn't matter to the readers of your paper.
A real reporter would have wrote how she is the most educated of the 4 and is working on her doctorate.

Comments

GPS for THIS county? What a waste! What other futile programs/ideas will Thornton and his cronies come up with next. Scared to even know. Thornton, and there is NO documentation on the VA licensing website that he is DR., along with the school board and his buddies in high positions need to take the next flight out of here. Would be the best move this county has made in years!

Comments

The GPS is not "for this county." The GPS is extra safety for our students and staff. A bus is in a bad accident, you have no idea exactly where it is, what do you do? A bus is late you and you want to know where your child is, what do you do? Your 5 year old forgets to get off on a stop and you need to catch up with the bus, what do you do? Oh and here is Dr. Thornton's dissertation with Virginia Tech tinyurl.com/q4lpn7m A simple google search can find that. Disgusted citizen, maybe you need to go back to school....

Comments

Disappointed reader, you sound rather disgruntled. So, you need to bash Powell, Somerville and Coleman to support Ms. Kindley? Wow, how sad little disappointed reader. Actually if you look up each person on the VA department of education website, you will see which one has the most education. It lists their degrees and license status there. Either way, you must not be very educated Disappointed reader because if you were, you would do your research. Have a blessed day and know that God is always watching. Hope you get that ticket to Heaven.

Comments

Buses do not need a $21000 GPS system, this is what is wrong with government today, they want to make everyone have the warm an fuzzies. I have 6th grader so don't give me any crap about not having an interest. Thorton is a big waste of money in my humble opinion.

Comments

To “Disgusted Citizen”: Why do you consider the GPS tracking a waste and futile? An explanation would have been nice instead of just ranting. I attended the Monday meeting, did you? Did you hear the presentation by Mr. Mullins (I think that’s how you spell it) or did you just read the news here and rant?
My response to the board member (no need to mention a name you know who you are) that made the “so you are going to tell me we are going to pay someone to look at GPS blips on a screen” comment during the Monday board meeting GPS presentation needs to understand the following; “blips” you refer to is my child, my neighbor’s child, and the students of this county. Being able to access where the buses are, getting information quickly, and to communicate back to parents any delays is outstanding. Thank you to Mr. Mullins and anyone else involved in working hard to make our school system a safer place, not only for my child, but for the students of Mecklenburg.

Comments

Delightful Optimist, you are clearly ignorant. (Look up the true meaning if you don't know it). I am not bashing the others, they are amazing educators and administrators. None of the others are working in a doctorate, let alone almost done with it. The others have their masters degrees... I know all of them, why don't you pick up your phone and call them. I am not disgruntled, I was merely pointing out the slander of someone based on their "younger" age.

Comments

I looked on DOE out of curiosity:
Name: Michele Hall Powell
Highest Degree Reported* Master's Degree
Name: Kristy Nicole Somerville
Highest Degree Reported* Educational Specialist Degree
Name Christopher Coleman
Highest Degree Reported* Master's Degree
Name Paige Estes Kindley
Highest Degree Reported* Master's Degree
All have the same education, and I called and confirmed that Ms. Paige Estes Kindley is working on her doctorate. Delightful Optimist, I think you owe a fellow commenter an apology. (Since you seem to be a reader of the bible).

Comments

Look I do not know any of these people personally but I know that you all do not know them either. No, I don't owe anyone an apology. You owe an apology to those you bashed.

@ Just Information-Can you read? They do not all have the same degree. Oh, I forgot you are a genius. I will pray for you as well.

Comments

@ Delightful Optimist An Educational Specialist Degree is a masters degree, but in a specialized area. @ Delightful Optimist, are you constipated or something, you seem very defensive about your inability to process information without being offended about your absurd post. You don't need to pray for me, there are many other things in the world that need prayer, like the unnamed board member who referred to someone's child as a blip. Nice of you to hide behind a bible and finish a nasty comment with prayer. Maybe you need to put prayer first.

Comments

Hello there........... Whats with the fuss about GPS and personel!! Has anyone noticed the education has gone to pot since the King's arrival. T-shirts, expensive trips to CAL., weekends at Wintergreen, SB conference, and GPS should all take presidence over education in the King's eyes. What a bunch of morons!!! Get out there an sign the petitions to remove the board. At the rate he's taking us our kids won't learn a thing. OH wait, PBL is here to save us!!! LOL. I hear all the PBL teachers are leaving PVMS. Sounds like they had a sucessful year. Check the DOE for MCPS status since the King arrived.

Comments

Of course Thornton supporters are going to be in favor of anything he proposes. They all have their heads in the sand and are totally unaware of what is happening nor do they care. Agree with Fred...money needs to be spent on more important things instead of GPS. That's why bus drivers have radios. And if teachers need the proper licensure, so should Thornton. Writing a dissertation means nothing unless it has been accepted by an institution. If it is not on Virginia's licensure website, then something doesn't add up.


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