Dr. Michael Richards, a member of the Mathews County School Board since 2008, announced Tuesday night that he is stepping down from that post, effective Aug. 31.
Richards made the announcement at the conclusion of the monthly school board meeting, which was held in the Mathews High School media center.
"It has been a great honor to work with you all," he told his fellow school board members, calling his decision to resign "not a happy thing to have to do." Richards, who, earlier in his term suffered a heart attack, indicated he is stepping down for health reasons. He said that he will hand in his formal letter of resignation at the board’s Aug. 17 meeting.
"We’ll certainly miss having you on the board. You’re a valuable member of the team," said John Persinger, who was elected school board chairman at the start of Tuesday’s meeting. Jen Little, the outgoing chairman, was elected vice chair.
Superintendent of Schools David J. Holleran praised Richards’s "expertise and attention to detail" while serving on the board. "I will certainly miss his guidance," he added.
The school board has scheduled a special meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 28, in the MHS media center to discuss the vacancy.
According to the Code of Virginia, when a vacancy occurs in a local governing body or an elected school board, the remaining members of the board, within 45 days of the office becoming vacant, may appoint a qualified voter to fill the vacancy. If a majority of the remaining members cannot agree, or do not act, the judges of the circuit court of the county may make the appointment.
The person so appointed shall hold office only until the qualified voters fill the vacancy by special election.
Holleran asked Richards if he would be willing to continue reviewing the school division’s monthly claims, a task at which Richards has excelled. Before he had a chance to respond, school board member Ginger Richards (no relation) quipped "there’s a volunteer form that you can fill out."
Earlier in the meeting, the school board approved a volunteer information form for all three schools. Mrs. Richards put together the form, which will be available online at the school division’s website starting on Aug. 1.
Mrs. Richards, who will be overseeing the volunteer effort, said that she hopes to have the volunteers "up and running" by the start of the school year. In addition to filling out the form, prospective volunteers must also submit information for a background check through the Virginia State Police and the Virginia Department of Social Services/Child Protective Services Registry.
In other news, Holleran announced that an endowment fund for Mathews Public Schools, established in March, has already exceeded $5,000 in donations. The superintendent received the welcome news from Janice Phillips of the Mathews Community Foundation, the organization that has set up the fund. Once the endowment reaches $10,000, grants can begin to be awarded.