School Board Meeting 13 January 2020


  • Dr. Hardinge (D5) elected chairman;
  • Ms. Staskiel (D3) elected vice-chairman;
  • Many citizens comment on December racial incident;
  • Discussion of re-districting as a result of new school construction, and of next year’s budget process.

Meeting Notes:

All members of the NKC School Board were present.

The meeting, which was well attended, was called to order by Superintendent Nichols. Approximately 30+ citizens and 15 School Division staff attended. The first agenda item was the reorganization of the Board, which typically occurs during the first meeting of the new calendar year. The new Board Chairman and Vice Chairman were elected. Two nominations were proffered. Mr. Meade nominated Ms. Swynford for Board Chair. Ms. Barber nominated Dr. Hardinge for Board Chair. Dr. Hardinge was elected 2020 Board Chair 3-2. The Vice Chair nomination was proffered by Ms. Barber nominating Ms. Staskiel. Ms. Staskiel was elected 2020 Vice chair 5-0. Staff appointments for Board Clerk and Deputy Clerk were also conducted.

Once the reorg was completed, the Board Members and Superintendent offered comment and opinion about the exciting year ahead. Nichols praised last year’s Board for their great work and welcomed newly elected District 1 rep, Meade. Nichols then read the Governors Proclamation re Virginia School Principals Appreciation Week.

Four citizens spoke during the citizen comment period. They were Mr. Charles Moss, representing United Citizens for Peace and Justice; Mr. Herb Jones; Mr. Burrell Pollard, local NAACP President; and Pastor Milton Hathaway. Generally, each spoke about the December racial incident at NKHS and called for increased diversity among teachers and School Division staff, cultural awareness training, racial sensitivity training, cultural awareness announcements, quicker and more direct responses should there be similar incidents in the future. Mr. Jones mentioned crisis management training for all leadership and staff. While general agreement concluded the incident was handled poorly, Pastor Hathaway noted the need to look forward, and to frame these type issues not as black vs. white but right vs. wrong.

Discussion then turned to redistricting due to construction of the new elementary school. A vote on a redistricting plan is scheduled for July 2020. Nichols highlighted his intention to hire a contract demographer; develop a redistricting website; post progress, proposals, and options on the website; conduct public information sessions; communicate progress using every option available to him, including Chronicle ads and surveys; and send monthly updates to the community.

A brief discussion on the FY21 budget process ensued noting that the process started in November and the BoS should hopefully be engaged by March 2020 although a specific work session had yet to be scheduled. Several state legislative proposals were also discussed including the possibility of $1.4M of additional state funds. Nichols caveated the discussion opining that what generally emerges from the legislative process is vastly different than the entering variables and suggested adopting a wait and see posture.

The public meeting concluded at 1915. The Board went into closed session to discuss School Division personnel matters.

It is my opinion that the Chair vote is indicative of the emergent voting pattern the Board will exhibit in the coming years. The redistricting issue will be challenging and possibly as contentious as the 2020 school calendar debate.

Prepared by Paul Ross

School Board Meeting Agenda:
(Click Meetings, select 13 January 20, click Agenda)

[Editor’s note: I am very surprised to see that the School board’s online agenda system is completely separate from the rest of the county’s! And that the School Board is not even listed as one of the county’s Boards and Commissions on the NKC website. -CSK]