By Stefanie Jackson – Accomack school board Chairman Paul Bull broke protocol Tuesday night to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Accomack County Public Schools and the Chincoteague Police Department (CPD) before a vote could be taken to approve the MOU, allowing the department to meet an application deadline for state funding to hire a school resource officer.
“I feel that there is nothing more important than a child’s safety in today’s climate, period, point blank,” said Capt. Tyler Greenley, of the CPD.
He spoke as the new father of a daughter who may attend and graduate from Chincoteague High School as he did.
Greenley submitted the application in March for a Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services grant that would cover the salary of a Chincoteague Combined School resource officer for four years.
After the four-year period, the CPD would be responsible to maintain the position.
Greenley had reached the point in the application process in which he was required to submit an MOU signed by the chairman of the school board, with a fast approaching deadline of June 4.
With time extremely limited, Bull opted to sign the MOU ahead of the public hearing that must be held before the school board can vote to approve the MOU.
The public hearing will be held during the school board’s next meeting June 15; Bull reminded Greenley that the signed MOU will not be valid until the school board votes to approve it.
Summer Hours for 12-Month Employees
Another in a handful of recent motions made by school board member Edward Taylor and seconded by school board member Janet Turner failed Tuesday night, when the two attempted to change one detail in Superintendent Chris Holland’s proposed summer schedule for 12-month school employees.
Holland proposed following the example of the last several years and having 12-month employees work approximately 10 hours a day, four days a week this summer, with Fridays off, instead of a typical work schedule of about 8 hours a day, five days a week.
The proposed schedule included three weekdays off for the July 4 and Juneteenth holidays.
Last year, Gov. Ralph Northam made an official state holiday of Juneteenth, traditionally observed on June 19 to celebrate the day when news of the Emancipation Proclamation reached Black slaves in Texas.
Since June 19 falls on a Saturday this year, most state agencies will observe Juneteenth on Friday, June 18.
But Holland proposed that Accomack County Public Schools observe Juneteenth on Thursday, June 17, since the holiday would fall on the first four-day work week for ACPS this summer.
Taylor proposed delaying the start date of the four-day work week from Monday, June 14, to Monday, June 21, to allow ACPS to follow suit with other state employers and observe Juneteenth on Friday, June 18.
School board member Lisa Johnson objected to Taylor’s proposal.
Juneteenth is an “ethnically historical day” and “to combine that in a sentence with a start date for a summer schedule … I don’t follow that,” she said.
Johnson also offered a correction to Holland’s proposal, which referred to the holiday as “June Nineteenth” instead of Juneteenth.
Taylor’s proposal was rejected in a 2-7 vote; a motion to accept Holland’s proposal as written passed in a 7-2 vote.
ACPS 12-month employees will be off Thursday, July 17, for Juneteenth, and Thursday, July 1, and Monday, July 5, for the July 4 holiday.
Coordinator of Student Health Services Tonya Martin reported that no Accomack teachers, school staff, or students are currently diagnosed with COVID-19.
According to the Virginia Department of Health June 1, Accomack County had two new cases of COVID-19 and a seven-day average of one new case of COVID-19 per day.