A big thank you to our instructional staff, building administrators, and support staff for everything that you are doing to make this year a positive experience for our SCPS students. It is all about the kids. It is a joy to see all of the positive energy in our schools! Here’s to all of you in this last big push through the completion of testing and to the end of the school year.
Come join us in Spotsy:
Superintendent Mark Taylor was live on NEWSTALK 105.9 WMAL this morning. Take a listen.
Message from the Superintendent
Our SCPS librarians, library paraeducators, building administrators, teaching and learning staff, and central administration have all worked very hard with great passion and dedication over many years to provide the best possible educational experience for Spotsylvania County children.
The dedicated members of our SCPS team have followed standard practices and guidance provided by the VDOE and other appropriate authorities. They have done very good work with very limited resources. I respect and appreciate our staff, and I find it regrettable that they and all of us are now facing a challenging dilemma.
Simply put, the dilemma is this: We don’t know the content of the books in our school libraries.
For many years, it has been standard and accepted practice to add materials to school library collections based only on brief summaries provided by external sources. This has been a widely accepted standard practice. Due to this practice, books have come into our school library collections that contain sexually explicit content.
For years, SCPS has also conflated or bundled together library materials and instructional materials. That has been our practice in the administration of our own policies. This practice is notably consistent with federal parameters.
We say that our North Star - our first imperative and first guiding principle – is that we shall provide a safe environment for children. The Commonwealth of Virginia has said that maintaining parental rights to know and parental choice to avoid sexually explicit materials is imperative.
It is right to say that under Virginia law, SCPS is required to give parents notice that their children may be exposed to sexually explicit content before such exposure occurs. But, SCPS has no practice and no history of notifying parents in advance of the sexually explicit content of books in our school libraries.
Our policies and practices must change. Institutionalization of Virginia’s legal definition of sexually explicit instructional material was a critical step, but it is only the first step. SCPS must move towards handling parental notifications about sexually explicit materials and parental opt-out (or opt-in) properly in our policy and in our practices.
The inclusion of sexually explicit content is not the only basis upon which materials may be contested. We must clarify, modernize and maintain other pathways for challenges in our policy.
SCPS must reconsider how materials come to be included in our school libraries. We must create a process whereby sexually explicit materials will be identified and parental notification and opt-in or opt-out will be provided before new items are added to our collections.
To these good ends, we will be bringing together a working group very soon to develop the next layer of improvements to our policy.
Mark B. Taylor Esq.
SCPS Budget Update
From the April 11 Board of Supervisors Meeting
The Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors told us last night that we will once again be afforded very limited resources for FY ‘24. We sincerely appreciate every local dollar that we receive, but we can’t hide our disappointment that the county’s funding for SCPS will be about $10 million below our stated and documented needs. SCPS leadership knows that our people are our greatest resource. All of our staff is critical to our public education mission. We will do all that we can for you! Thank you for all that you have done and will do to maximize our division’s success this school year. As this year’s “finish line” comes into view (now two half-days sooner than planned), I know you will keep running hard to the very end. Thank you for your best efforts for our kids!
A Well-Deserved Thank You
From the April 10 School Board Meeting
The Spotsylvania County Public School Board held its April Regular Meeting on Monday, April 10, 2023. Here are some of the highlights from the meeting.
A motion was made by board member Kirk Twigg to end the school year two days early for students on May 23, 2023. The Board unanimously supported the motion. View updated calendar here.
With a vote of 4-3 the Spotsylvania County Public School Board voted to end paycheck deduction for Spotsylvania Education Association (SEA). SEA is a county affiliate of the Virginia Education Association, a labor union. “Starting with their May paychecks, SEA members will see more of their own money in their paychecks as union dues will no longer be deducted," said Chief of Staff Jon Russell.
The school board also voted 4-3 to add greater accountability to future interim superintendent and superintendent contracts by having the school board attorney sign the contracts in addition to the chair.