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Rogers leaves board after years of leadership
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Dr. Jared Cotton (left), Henry County Schools superintendent, presents departing school board member Kathy Rogers (center) with a plaque during the last school board meeting of the year. Standing with them is School Board Chairman Joe DeVault (right). (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)

Monday, December 23, 2013

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

“Someone once told me hiring of the superintendent is the most important job of the school board. As chair, I led the board through this twice,” Kathy Rogers said.

Rogers recently left the Henry County School Board after serving eight years as the Collinsville District representative. She did not seek a third term, citing personal reasons, including work and family obligations.

She served as board chairman from 2008-12.

“I felt we hired two great superintendents,” she said of Anthony Jackson and Jared Cotton.

Jackson was superintendent from July 2009 to July 2011, and Cotton became superintendent in January 2012.

Rogers said she regrets that Jackson didn’t stay longer.

Another accomplishment Rogers cited was the development of relationships based on trust and mutual respect between members of the school board and between the board and the school division administration. “I hope it continues. I feel it will,” she said.

“I’m proud of the accomplishments of students, teachers and the administrative staff. Henry County (Public Schools) is looked on as an example of innovation in the region, state and nation,” she added.

Rogers said the school division has grown and continues to “grow” technology, such as using Smartboards, providing iPads for elementary school students and opening Warrior Tech Academy at Magna Vista High School, among other things. Warrior Tech is the first New Tech Network school in Virginia.

Also, the school division recently implemented a bring your own technological device (BYOD) policy.

“They (students) are born with this technology. We need to recognize it as a tool and use it in a controlled learning environment,” Rogers said.

“My regrets?” she said of her time on the school board. “Every year there have been difficult economic challenges.” She said she is “proud” the school board has been able to focus on students and invest in such things as technology, professional development and clean and safe schools.

However, “I regret we haven’t invested in salaries for teachers and staff. We’re not as competitive as other school districts. At some point we have to address that,” she said.

Rogers also said she regrets that a new school has not been constructed in the Collinsville District. “It’s been decades since we’ve built a new school in Henry County.”

She said she is “encouraged” because there “seems to be a newfound interest among the school board and board of supervisors to address capital needs.”

Rogers said she favors replacing John Redd Smith Elementary and Collinsville Primary with a new school on a different site.

In addition to that project, a number of schools have mobile units that need to be done away with, she said.

Another regret is, “...We weren’t able to move ahead with consolidation (with Martinsville City Schools) the last time we explored it. I think in the long term (consolidation) is truly what is best,” she said, but it will be “a daunting task” to get the county and city school boards and governing boards to agree to it.

“I hope it will happen. In my opinion we are one community. I believe we could offer more programs to students. We could deal with the staffing issue through attrition and retirement,” she said.

Rogers said she believes consolidation would save money, and she hopes any savings would be used for such things as technology, curriculum and investing in teachers.

When asked what she liked most about serving on the board, she said, “We were there for students.” She also liked “celebrating the accomplishments of students in our schools.”

“I respect my fellow school board members a great deal and enjoyed working with them and the staff of Henry County Schools,” she added.

What did she like least or what was the most challenging? “Going through the superintendent searches was challenging, (as well as) trying to develop budgets in difficult economic times over the last several years and making hard choices,” she said.

Rogers “served two years on the Board of Directors of the Virginia School Boards Association, 2012 and 2013 — chair of the VSBA Legislative Positions Committee, chair of the Blue Ridge Region, member of the VSBA Audit Committee, and representative of the VSBA Board on the Virginia Department of Education’s Teacher of the Year Selection Committee,” states a resolution honoring Rogers by the Henry County School Board.

Serving on the Virginia School Boards Association board gave her more of a state and national perspective on public schools, she said.

As for her plans, she said, “I have more than a full-time job at Piedmont Arts. I will be focused on work and family. If there is a way I can be of value to the community, I will look at that.”

Rogers, 54, is executive director of Piedmont Arts and former executive director of United Way of Henry County and Martinsville. She has two daughters, Kaitlin Rogers, a junior at Virginia Commonwealth University, and Madison Rogers, a senior at Bassett High School.

Will she run for public office again? “I will never say never, but at this point no,” she said.


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