Sunday, January 17, 2010

New Year - New Challenges

The 2010 year has started on a busy and challenging note. I have started my travels around the Commonwealth of Virginia for the purpose of conducting the Regional Presidents' Dinners, and we have already completed three of the nine meetings. On January 6th, I traveled to the Skyline region and met with presidents and vice presidents from Page, Frederick, Warren, and Shenandoah Counties.

The budget news is bleak everywhere. School divisions are already facing budget shortfalls for this school year, and that doesn't even start to address the crisis that is looming for the next biennium.

The good news is that our local leaders have been making good use of the 10-minute meeting format around our information on the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) and superintendents and principals across the region are eager to have the VEA leaders share their information.

On January 12th, I traveled to Lynchburg and met with local leaders from Bedford, Lynchburg, Charlotte Courthouse, Campbell, Amherst, and Danville. The news regarding the budget was much the same.

Then, on January 14th, I traveled to Charlottesville and met with leaders from Albemarle, Orange, Augusta, Louisa,and Harrisonburg.

Traveling with me to each of the regional meetings was VEA Vice President, Meg Gruber, and we were also joined in Front Royal and Charlottesville by NEA Director, Lee Dorman, and in Lynchburg by NEA Director, Tommie McCune.

In spite of the less than great news about budget issues, our leaders remain committed to promoting the VEA to members and yet-to-be members. They report creating a sense of working with administrations because the VRS issue is something that all education employees share in common, and there is something to be said about standing together as situations become more challenging.

Also this week, the 2010 session of the Virginia General Assembly began, and yesterday, Governor Bob McDonnell was inaugurated as the 71st governor of Virginia.

Like us, Governor Bob McDonnell is being presented with numerous daunting challenges. I hope that we will be able to find areas of common ground and an ability to work together for the betterment of the school children of Virginia.

I look toward this next week as another busy week of meetings with leaders and monitoring the General Assembly. Please stay tuned to the VEA's website ( for pertinent news related to our association, and for the purpose of following the General Assembly session, check out the daily blog that is going to replaced the daily hotline. The address is

Until next time.