LOW MOOR — Jacob Wright was elected chairman of the Alleghany County School Board Monday. Danielle Morgan was elected vice chairwoman.
Wright, who was elected with votes from six of seven board members, replaces Randy Tucker as chair. Tucker, the chairman for the past six years, announced he will be leaving the board on Aug. 31.
Tucker has two years remaining on his four-year term as Falling Spring representative. His announcement came after the board met in a lengthy closed session to discuss personnel issues.
Part of the discussions apparently centered on Superintendent Gene Kotulka’s contract with the board.
On June 25, Kotulka announced he will be retiring effective Sept. 30. He had planned on serving as superintendent until the end of the 2020-21 school year. However, after a dispute arose between Kotulka and the board over his salary, he moved his retirement date up to Sept. 30.
Monday’s meeting agenda listed discussion of the superintendent’s contract as a information item. But after the closed session, Wright said, “We don’t have any information to discuss there.”
Kotulka then reaffirmed his decision to retire in September.
“I will stick with my retirement date. September 30 will be my last day,” he said.
Wright recognized Kotulka’s five years of work as superintendent. In particular, he praised the superintendent for implementing New Tech Learning at Alleghany High School and the One-to One Initiative, which placed an electronic learning devise in the hands of every teacher and student.
“Some of these things have really put us apart from the rest of the state,” Wright said.
Wright was elected chairman during the reorganizational portion of the meeting. He was nominated for the chairmanship by Morgan.
Jennifer Seckner (Sharon District) was nominated by Tucker. Seckner said she did not want to be considered for the chairmanship, but Tucker voted for her anyway. Wright received the remaining six votes.
“It’s an honor to be chosen by my peers,” said Wright, who has represented the Boiling Springs District for seven years.
“I?won’t let you down,” Wright said.
Morgan was elected vice chairwoman by a 7-0 vote. She represents the Clifton Forge East District.
Wright commended Tucker for his service to the school division.
“He has been chairman for the last six years and I appreciate everything he has done for our school system,” Wright said.
Before revealing his intention to leave the board on Aug. 31, Tucker reminded board members that they need to move forward in a unified direction.
“Board members need to understand you need to act as a board. If you don’t agree with a decision by the board, it’s not your job to go out and tell everybody in the community, ‘I?didn’t vote for it,’” Tucker said.
Tucker will leave the board with a total of 16 years of service. He represented the Sharon District before leaving the board in 2010. He relocated to the Falling Spring area and was again appointed to the school board in 2014.
Last July, Tucker said he would not agree to serve as chairman again after the 2019-20 school year. He also said he would not seek reappointment when his term on the board expired in 2022.
In other business Monday, the board:
— Was informed that $500,000 in year-end fund balance will be transferred to Alleghany County.
Rice said the move to return the money is in lieu of a $500,000 funding reduction from the county in fiscal year 2021.
— Elected Lorie Bess, administrative assistant to the superintendent, as clerk; and Fred Vaughan, director of human resources and pupil personnel, as deputy clerk.
— Designated Vaughan, Keven Rice, director of finance; and Dr. Elizabeth Heath, director of special education; as superintendent’s designees.
— Designated Bess, Vaughan and Heath as recorders.
— Appointed Wright, Seckner and Gerald Franson (Covington District)?to the Jackson River Technical Center Joint Board of Control.
— Appointed Morgan to the Jackson River Governor’s School Executive Committee.
— Appointed Wright as a voting delegate to the Virginia School Boards Association. Morgan was appointed as an alternate.
— Appointed Franson, Seckner and Wright to a special committee on board governance.