Talley gets new contract; city ​​and county schools make personnel changes | Local News

The Martinsville School Board and Superintendent Zeb Talley have agreed to a new contract, extending Talley’s leadership role through June 30, 2026.

Vice Chair Yvonne Givens (left), Chair Donna Dillard, Superintendent Zeb Talley and Member Emily Parker attend a regular school board meeting Monday night.

Bill Wyatt

Talley has been the superintendent of Martinsville City Public Schools since October 2016. His current employment agreement began on July 1, 2021, and was due to expire on June 30, 2023.

The Board called a special closed session on May 26 where they agreed to a new four-year term that will begin on July 1 and end on June 30, 2026.


Superintendent Dr. Zeb Talley thanked the parents for “giving your young people to us” at this year’s graduation on May 21.


The new contract increases Talley’s annual salary to $147,000 from $140,000, a 5% increase. In addition to the salary, Talley will continue to receive a doctoral grant of $5,000 per year.

The contract also includes a deferred compensation contribution equal to 10 percent of Talley’s annual salary, increasing the previous contribution of $14,000 per year to $14,700.

The contract also obligates Martinsville City Public Schools to contribute to the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) the maximum amount permitted by law, but did not make clear what that amount might be.

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Included in the contract is a promise to automatically increase Talley’s salary by “at least the average percentage salary increase authorized by the School Board for other School Division employees.”

The School Board agreed to continue providing health insurance benefits to Talley and the total premium for life insurance through VRS. The contract did not list specific costs associated with health or life insurance.

This is a copy of Martinsville Superintendent Zeb Talley’s new contract.

Membership costs associated with civic and service organizations; expenses incurred for attending local, state and national meetings; and expenses incurred for entertaining professional visitors and guests of the Division will also be paid by the Board.

Talley will also be provided a vehicle, cellphone and laptop that may be used for incidental personal purposes. All maintenance, insurance, gasoline and other costs associated with the vehicle will also be paid by the Board.

The contract, executed on May 26, was signed by Board Chair Donna Dillard, Vice Chair Yvonne Givens and school board members Emily Parker and Anthony Jones and Talley.

Martinsville School Board

Martinsville City Council will meet on Tuesday for a regular meeting in which they plan to set a public hearing for June 14 to receive names of citizens interested in two appointments for a three-year term on the Martinsville School Board ending June 30, 2025 and on unexpired three-year term ending June 30, 2024.

Jay Dickens


Jay Dickens resigned after serving less than a year, and Emily Parker will complete her first term at the end of June. Dickens did not offer an explanation as to why he resigned when asked by the Bulletin, and Parker did not say whether she intended to seek reappointment.

The School Board consists of five members serving three-year terms with a maximum of three consecutive terms and, unlike Henry County which elects its school board members, City Council appoints members in a process that begins with an interested person’s name being mentioned at a public hearing.

That person can name themselves, be named by someone present at the meeting or be suggested by one of the members of the council.

Only those names brought up during the public hearing will be considered for appointment. Council typically conducts interviews with candidates after the meeting and announces the appointments at or after Council’s second meeting in June.

Motions out of a closed session at the School Board’s regular meeting on June 6 named Jill Holder as an assistant principal of Albert Harris Elementary School and Dr. Cynthia Tarpley as the executive director of special education and student support services.

Appointments and resignations

Also from motions out of the closed session on June 6, the School Board appointed Davis Byrd, English teacher; Lauren Appel, school counselor; Tyler Hunt, ITRT teacher – secondary; Caitlyn Wray, fifth grade teacher; Heather Hoffman, fifth grade teacher; Eyad Mohamed, computer tech summer temporary; Samuel Harrell, computer tech summer temporary; Dorthea Kirby, adult education secretary; and Stafford Spencer, custodian.

Resignations were accepted from: Christopher Manns, Angela Buchanan, Kimberly Turner, Austin Robertson, Nisamar Sechris Barrera, Debra Walton, Bonnie Mitchell, Martha Newman, Damian Wainwright and Parker Gunn.

Parker Gunn



Gunn, the son of school board member Emily Parker and son-in-law of school board member Yvonne Givens, was hired as the communications and community outreach coordinator in March 2020. He became a marketing and communications specialist for Carilion Clinic in Roanoke earlier this month, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Henry County Public Schools appointments

The Henry County School Board met in closed session after a regular meeting on Thursday and motions out of that closed session approved Superintendent Sandy Strayer’s recommendation to fill three administrative positions.




Krystle Churchill will be assistant principal at Magna Vista High School next school year. Churchill has served students in Chesterfield County as an English as a second language (ESL) teacher and dean of students. “I am honored to be joining the administrative team at Magna Vista High School. I am thrilled to be back home and serving our Warrior community in this new role. I am looking forward to meeting the faculty, our students, parents, and families,” Churchill said in a release.




Charles White wants to be the new director of pupil transportation. White has served students in Franklin County as a teacher and bus driver. “I look forward to the opportunity to work with this group of great individuals to add to the growth of Henry County Public Schools,” White said in a release.




Duane Whittaker has been named the new principal at Magna Vista High School. Whittaker, who currently serves as the supervisor of the Regional Alternative Program, has served students as an administrator in Henry County and in North Carolina since 1998. “I am honored to return to Magna Vista to serve the Warrior community as principal. Together, we will continue to propel each of our learners to greatness. I welcome the opportunity to talk with all stakeholders about their specific child and any concerns they may have,” Whittaker said in the release.

Said Superintendent Sandy Strayer in the release: “I am pleased to have these leaders join our team as we continue to offer our students the encouragement and support they need to be their very best.”

Bill Wyatt is a reporter for the Martinsville Bulletin. He can be reached at 276-638-8801, Ext. 2360. Follow him @billdwyatt.


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