City School Board has new leadership

Posted: January 14, 2014

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — The city School Board has new leadership.

At a Monday School Board work session at the Central Administrative Office, Vice-Chairwoman Erica Truban was unanimously voted chairwoman of the current eight-member board.

City Council will appoint the ninth seat, which was left vacant after John Bishop resigned as chairman of the board on Jan. 7 for family reasons. His term expires June 30, 2016.

Bishop’s departure came after division Superintendent Rick Leonard, Executive Director Kevin McKew and Director of Finance Linda Meadows announced their retirements on Dec. 10, effective July 1.

“I really hope tonight will be the first in a series of injections of stability for the division,” Truban said.

She said she will “work tirelessly to advocate” for the students and “believed very much” in the board.

Allyson Pate was unanimously voted in as vice-chairwoman.

Also at Monday’s meeting, the board discussed budget priorities for fiscal year 2015.

The top priority was improving employee compensation, followed by altering the organizational structure of the division administration (including whether to hire an assistant superintendent), improving student performance (which the board agreed was tied to compensation) and enhancing Career and Technical Education.

Among other considerations were preschool and early intervention, reducing class sizes, improving professional development and looking into a divisionwide behavior specialist.

Officials predict federal funding to decrease by $250,000, state funding to increase by $2.1 million and local funding to stay the same.

However, a 2.96 percent Virginia Retirement System rate increase would offset some of the state funding increase by costing the division about $814,000.

Other potential big expenditures in FY15 include: a 1 to 3 percent salary increase ($1 million at 3 percent), the equalization of city and school employee health insurance costs ($600,000) and an increase in operating costs ($365,223). Preliminary requests include $2 million in new personnel to meet the requirements of Standards of Quality mandated pupil-teacher ratios.

Attending the meeting were Chairwoman Erica Truban, Vice-Chairwoman Allyson Pate and members Richard Bell, Mary Margaret Wise, Mel Thomas, Cynthia Ford and Vince Di Benedetto. Minh Le was absent.

— Contact Rebecca Layne at