With less than two weeks before classes begin, the Henry County School Board shuffled three positions.

The board at its meeting Thursday night appointed Janice Largen and Roy “Richie” Weaver as assistant principals at Bassett High School and Duane Whittaker as supervisor of the regional alternative program.

Largen, who since January had been supervisor of the regional alternative program, succeeds succeed Joshua Bocock, who recently replaced Robert Johnson as the director of Piedmont Governor’s School for Mathematics, Science, and Technology when Johnson moved to Montgomery County Schools.

Whittaker, an assistant principal at Bassett, takes over for Largen in the alternative program, and Weaver joins Bassett from positions in Rockingham County, N.C., schools.

“I am very excited to be joining the Bassett team. I know this is a close-knit, family–oriented community, and I look forward to working with the faculty, staff and parents, who make educating our students their number one priority,” Largen said in a news release that was prepared in advance by Henry County Public Schools and distributed after the meeting.

Largen had been a classroom teacher since 2004 for Patrick County Public Schools. She earned a master’s degree in educational leadership from James Madison University in 2017.

The Virginia Department of Education describes the regional alternative program as dealing with troubled and high-risk students in grades 6-12.

Monica Hatchett, a spokesperson for Henry County Public Schools, wrote in an email that it “is an evening program housed at Center for Community Learning. Students from Henry and Patrick Counties and Martinsville participate. The program currently serves approximately 13 students (as the school year begins, this number may fluctuate based on the needs of students in each division).”

“I am honored to be appointed the supervisor of the regional alternative program,” Whittaker said in the HCPS news release. “I look forward to working with the teachers, students and community in this new position. I feel it is important that all students achieve success in pursuing their academic and personal goals. This can only be accomplished through everyone working together to do what is best for students.”

Whittaker has worked more than 20 years with Henry County Public Schools, teaching social studies at Bassett High School and then serving as an assistant principal at Fieldale-Collinsville Middle School and Magna Vista and Bassett high schools and principal of Drewry Mason when it was a middle school. He also taught in Rockingham County, N.C.

During his career in North Carolinia, Weaver served as a teacher, assistant principal and principal before becoming a coordinator of curriculum and instruction, according to the HCPS news release.

He spent most of his career in Rockingham County Public Schools and on June 10 had moved from principal at Monroeton Elementary to curriculum and instruction coordinator for the district.

Hatchett declined to say why Weaver decided to move to Bassett, suggesting such a question would not be asked.

“We received an application from Mr. Weaver for an open administrator’s position, and his interview demonstrated he was a highly qualified applicant,” she said. “It is our understanding that he intends to resign his position with Rockingham County to join HCPS.”

Said Weaver in the HCPS release: “I am very excited about the opportunity to be part of the staff of Bassett High School. It is truly an honor and privilege to work with the excellent teachers, staff, students and community. I’m looking forward to helping our students achieve to their highest potential.”

HCPS did not release the salaries of Largen, Weaver and Whittaker, although in approving their hirings the school board also had approved that expenditure. The Martinsville Bulletin asked Hatchett for those salaries immediately after the meeting, and she said she did not have that information. She said the Bulletin could request that information through the Freedom of Information Act and to pay a fee to get the salaries.

At 4:10 p.m. Friday, Hatchett provided those salaries: Largen will make $60,529, Weaver: $74,231 and Whittaker: $77,560.

“I am so proud to have these members of our team in position to serve students as we begin the new school year,” Superintendent Sandy Strayer said in the release. “The enthusiasm that each brings to the positions they will hold is certain to enhance student success.”

Among other business, the school board:

  • Contracted with For the Children, Partners in Prevention to teach the sensitive areas of the Family Life Curriculum, at a cost of $24,000.
  • Appointed six of the members of the Sick Leave Bank Advisory Board: Lisa Millner, Sherell Hodge, Brian Stowe, Judy Edmonds, Charles Byrd and David Scott.
  • Approved the installation of network cabling for wireless local area network from GAMEWOOD Inc., at a cost of up to $65,000. This includes fiber optics, wireless connectivity and internet access to kitchens, ticket booths, additional athletic fields, the driving range, and specific areas of need in the buildings of the secondary locations.
  • Awarded the bid for new cafeteria equipment for the Bassett High, Laurel Park Middle and Drewry Mason Elementary schools to Douglas Equipment Company of Bluefield, W.Va., for $79,120. Most of it will replace 10-year-old steamers and to deal with failing ovens.
  • Approved an estimated total $100,936 for food purchase through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
  • Awarded the contract for the purchase of non-food supplies to General Sales of Virginia of Roanoke at an estimated cost of $54,425.
  • Awarded the contract for cellular phone service to Verizon Wireless with an estimated annual cost of $30,000.
  • Heard a report about upcoming meetings and events. Aug. 12 will be the first day of school for students. The school board will hold its regular monthly meetings for September and October as follows: Sept. 5 at 6 p.m. and Oct. 3 at 9 a.m., both in Summerlin Room of the Henry County Administration Building.

Paul Collins is a reporter for the Martinsville Bulletin. Contact him at 276-638-8801, ext. 236.

Paul Collins is a reporter for the Martinsville Bulletin. Contact him at 276-638-8801, ext. 236.

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