POWHATAN – The Powhatan County School Board last week voted unanimously to elect Joe Walters as its chairman for the fourth-straight year.
Walters, who represents District 4, was once again approved unanimously by his fellow board members in a vote taken at the board’s first meeting of the year on Tuesday, Jan. 14.
Kim Hymel was also unanimously re-elected as the board’s vice chairwoman, marking her second year in the position. The school board reorganizes every January for the upcoming year.
Walters, who is starting his fifth year on the school board, said he once again appreciated his fellow board members’ votes of confidence in re-electing him as the chairman.
“With the previous board, we accomplished a lot. We opened a brand new middle school. We opened a joint transportation facility. We finished both of those on time and under budget, which is quite an accomplishment. And I think together, we have a lot more left to do,” Walters said.
While the school board only saw one change to its roster with the addition of Susan Smith in District 2, the Powhatan County Board of Supervisors saw three new members taking office. Over the next year, Walters said he looks forward to getting to know them and working with them to help prepare the county for the future.
Walters pointed out that in addition to the major capital projects the county achieved in the last few years, the school board had worked to significantly reduce its capital needs through projects and partnerships, especially the energy savings performance contracting deal with Trane Building Advantage and the solar project with Sun Tribe Solar LLC. At the Jan. 14 board workshop, the board learned that its five-year capital improvement plan (CIP) went from $17.23 million last year to a proposal of $6.187 million this year, thanks to those partnerships.
With those in place, the school board will work on growing the strength of division staff and continuing to work with and improve the programs and offerings the schools currently have to make sure that when students “leave us they are prepared to enter the military, enter the job field, advance to college or career or trade schools and just make sure they are best situated as we can to be successful in the future,” he said.
Hymel, who has been on the school board since 2014, said it was nice to have the board put their trust in her again as vice chairwoman and she looks forward to working with everyone this year to move the county forward.
Hymel agreed the biggest task ahead is establishing a good relationship with the new board of supervisors “to make sure we can all get along and do what is best for the students of this county as well as making good use of taxpayers’ money.”
Hymel added she wants a good salary and compensation package for the teachers.
“We need good teachers in our county and we need to keep them, so that is one of my biggest priorities,” she said.
The next meeting of the school board will be on Feb. 11 at the Pocahontas Landmark Center, with a workshop at 5 p.m. and the meeting at 7 p.m.
Laura McFarland may be reached at Lmcfarland@powhatantoday.com.