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A fond farewell: School board honors its city counterparts—and one of its own

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By John Barnhart

school board. District 2 school board member Jason Johnson noted that VanDerwerker signed his high school diploma. She was vice chairman of the school board that year.

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    “I’m the only one on the school board who can say, ‘Mrs. VanDerwerker signed my high school diploma,’” Johnson said.
    VanDerwerker spoke her last official words as a member of the Bedford County School Board at the end of the meeting.
    “I move we adjourn,” she said
    During its meeting the school board nominated  Tom Wilmoth, editor of the Bedford Bulletin, and Justin Faulconer, a reporter for the Lynchburg News and Advance, to the Virginia School Boards Association statewide Media Honor Roll.
    “Mr. Tom Wilmoth is the Editor of the Bedford Bulletin and Mr. Justin Faulconer is a reporter with the Lynchburg News and Advance,” school board spokesman Ryan Edwards wrote in prepared statement. “Both of these individuals strive to stay in-touch with all that goes on within our division. It’s been a pleasure for me to work with Mr. Wilmoth for the past eight years and my time with Mr. Faulconer has been positive as well. Of course they are there to report through turbulent times, but neither will turn their head when it comes to story ideas concerning the great things that go on with our students and staff.
    “Also, I feel we are extremely fortunate to have a publication such as the Bedford Bulletin. Very few divisions in Virginia have a publication that will print every photo, honor roll name and accomplishment from 22 schools that is thrown their way. The Bedford Bulletin does this and does it on a weekly basis.”
    Randy Hagler, the school division’s chief financial officer gave the school board an update on the latest estimates of the impact the new federal healthcare law, known as the Patient Protection and the Affordable Care Act, will have on Bedford County Public Schools. Hagler pointed out that the school division has only considered employees working at least 40 hours per week as full-time employees for the purpose of benefits. Under the healthcare law, an employee working 30 hours a week is considered a full-time employee under the law’s mandate that employers provide approved medical insurance or pay a penalty. He added that the rules covering this are complicated.
    “It is going to be time consuming to track,” Hagler told the school board.
    In addition to the complicated nature of the law’s rules, Hagler said that the school division’s payroll system is not set up to collect the data needed.
    Hagler said that Bedford County Public Schools has 1,600 employees and nearly half of them are part-time or variable-time workers and the school division will face limits to the way it can employ these workers. Substitute teachers will no longer be able to work other jobs in the school division. They will be limited to four days a week, seven hours per day and won’t be able to have extra duties after the school day. Long-term substitutes will be the exception.
    Hagler expects the school division to have to pay for health care for bus drivers.
    “We do not have a large pool of bus drivers,” Hagler said, noting that drivers can go beyond taking students to school in the morning and taking them back home when school lets out.
    Hagler called the employer-provided insurance mandate a “play or pay” situation. If the school division does not “play” it will have to pay a $2,000 penalty for each employee considered to be full-time under the law.
    “That 30-hour rule is going to impact the school systems,” he said.