School Board to tackle lengthy agenda

Published 10:06 pm Tuesday, November 12, 2019

For the first time since Dr. John B. Gordon III became division superintendent, the Suffolk School Board will meet Thursday to tackle a lengthy agenda featuring more than two dozen ordinances up for either adoption or discussion.

It will include a summary of how Gordon has spent his first month as superintendent, as he has held three Meet the Superintendent forums to introduce himself and receive concerns from parents, teachers and other staff members.

The board will also receive a revised budget development calendar. It changes a planned work session on the budget from Thursday to Dec. 12, with Gordon slated to present his first budget as superintendent on Feb. 20, 2020. It also sets aside dates for a possible work session between the board and City Council for March 18, 2020, and the submitting of the board’s approved budget to the city on March 25, 2020.

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In addition, the board will receive a report from the Policy Review Committee, made up of Vice Chairwoman Dr. Judith Brooks-Buck and member Sherri Story. The committee is asking the board to determine the process for appointing people to serve on citizen advisory committees, and the frequency of reports from those committees.

The committee is also recommending that a slate of 13 proposed policies be adopted, including one on free and reduced-priced meals. That proposed policy would prohibit school division staff from requiring a student who is not able to pay for a school meal, or who has a school meal debt, to perform any kind of work in exchange for receiving a meal. The revised policy also would prohibit school employees from identifying students receiving free and reduced meals, or identifying those who owe a school meal debt.

Another 14 ordinances from the committee will be discussed for the first time at the board meeting and would either amend or delete sections of board policies. They include amending its tobacco policy to include a ban on nicotine vapor products, as well as expanding its policy to define what they are. The new policy defines such products as “any non-combustible product containing nicotine that employs a heating element, power source, electronic circuit or other electronic, chemical or mechanical means, regardless of shape or size, that can be used to produce vapor from nicotine in a solution or other form.”

Also, the committee has proposed adding a section in the board’s character education policy to provide parents the right to review any audio-visual materials that have graphic sexual or violent conduct that is used in any anti-bullying program.

The new character education policy states that parents of children participating in the program would receive a written notice of a parent’s right to review the material and allow the parent to excuse their child from participating in the program.

The board will also receive the Special Education Advisory Committee’s annual report, and Gordon will also introduce new Director of Secondary Leadership Dr. Ron Leigh and new Director of Food and Nutrition Services Lawrence Whiting. Former School Board clerk Cynthia Chavis will also be recognized for her years of service.

The board meeting takes place in the council chambers at City Hall and begins at 5:30 p.m., though it is expected to go immediately into a closed session, with the regular meeting resuming at 7 p.m. To view the board’s complete agenda, go to