2017-03-15 / Front Page

School Board considers eliminating trailers

Board also discusses names for new school
By Rich Griset

At its business meeting on Tuesday, the School Board heard about a proposal to eventually eliminate trailers behind schools, and considered possible names for a new Midlothian-area elementary school.

Following a performance by singers from Monacan High, the School Board heard about a proposal that would reduce the number of trailers used as classrooms and offices, with the goal of eventually eliminating them altogether. According to school officials, the average classroom trailer is 21 years old, and 10 classroom trailers are currently three decades old or older. All told, the school system has 319 trailers, 219 of which are used as classrooms.

The School Board also heard about four possible names for a new Midlothian-area elementary school that will open in fall 2019. More than 500 potential names were submitted electronically for consideration. PTA leaders from the three elementary schools that are expected to funnel students to the new school narrowed those options down to four: Old Hundred Elementary School, Hallsboro Elementary, Lucille Cheatham Moseley Elementary and Virginia Justis Elementary.

 Virginia Justis, a former teacher and coach who owned the land where the new school will sit, had her name submitted 90 times, more than any other submission. School Board policy states that in order to name a facility after someone, that person must be deceased for at least a decade. Justis passed away in 2015.

Matoaca district member Rob Thompson objected to naming the school for Justis on those grounds, saying it wasn’t fair to the public to make an exception in this case when it hadn’t in other cases. At Thompson’s motion, four of the five School Board members voted to pull Justis’ name from consideration, with chairman and Midlothian district representative Javaid Siddiqi saying “Out of respect for my community, I will oppose this.”

During the public comment period, local watchdog Ron Hayes criticized the School Board for moving its work sessions to the conference hall at the Chesterfield Technical Center on Hull Street Road.

“The sound is not audible; it’s terrible. We can’t see your faces, because you’ve [put your back to the audience],” Hayes said. “Ladies and gentlemen, this is not accessibility, this is not transparency, and this is not open government.”

Lemar Bannister, a longtime history and special education teacher at L.C. Bird High, spoke about how changes to the supplemental retirement plan would affect him, saying that he would have retired last year had he known he might not be able to this year. The beleaguered SRP program is estimated to have a nearly $100 million unfunded liability.

“We should not be made to pay for errors made by others,” Bannister said. “I kept my part of the promise faithfully. … It is now the responsibility of this board to honor the commitment.”

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