This evening Iím breaking with protocol slightly by including some remarks in this meetingís agenda. Normally, the Superintendentís Remarks are presented only at the second Board meeting of each month, not the first. However, I didnít want to wait till the February 15th meeting to recognize a very special group of people...and to publicly thank them for the outstanding job they did over the recent spate of bad weather weíve experienced. Conditions last week were severe, which resulted in many inconveniences for staff, students, and parents. However, our people performed their duties in a heroic manner. Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Support Services John Kalocay has assembled a fine team. It gives me great pleasure to acknowledge their contributions this evening.

As you may know, the city of Virginia Beach encompasses 310 square miles...and every day, our school buses criss-cross the highways and country-roads alike to pick up and drop off more than 68,000 students. This is no easy feat under normal circumstances, but during the adverse weather conditions of the last few weeks, and, in particular, last Thursday, our school bus drivers and transportation staff members did an outstanding job. With snow, ice, and bitter cold to combat, these folks got more than 500 buses on the road and traveled more than 40,000 miles in making their rounds. I want to commend Transportation Director David Pace and his entire staff for their dedication and perseverance during a very difficult time.

David, please stand and be recognized. And will Martha Scott, president of the Virginia Beach school bus driversí association, also stand and be recognized?

In the same vein, I want to congratulate the Office of Custodial Services Director Eric Hines and his entire staff for keeping our schools and offices going during these really cold past few weeks. With more than 9 million square feet of office, facilities, and classroom space to maintain C not including portables C they have done an outstanding job. I congratulate you Eric and commend you and your dedicated workforce.

Please stand and be recognized.

Now, let me also commend a man and his staff who were out in the midst of the storms and bad weather, Roper Davis, Coordinator of Landscape Services. These folks, with very limited resources, worked round the clock to clear bus loops, parking areas, access and egress areas for our 84 schools and various administrative offices. I understand they even borrowed some snow clearing equipment from the city to help get the job done. Our thanks to all of you for dealing with the elements and clearing the way to keep our buses rolling and aid us in getting where we needed to go.

Mr. Davis, please stand and be recognized. Our thanks to you and your staff for "braving the storm" and facing down the elements.

Finally, last but certainly not least, I commend the teachers and staff members who also faced the elements last Thursday with determination and without complaint. It was bitter cold, icy, snowy, and early when you started your cars to head in to schools and offices. Thank you for your perseverance and dedication in getting to getting ready for all our students who were on a two-hour delay schedule, and in getting back onto a normal schedule after a two-day bad weather break. I would like to ask Melody Copper of the VBEA and all teachers and principals in the audience to stand and be recognized.

Once again I commend you all.

May the next few weeks bring us sunshine, not snow. But, if our weather is "more of the same," I know we can once again depend on you to get us through.