Governor's School Talks

Published 4:09 pm Thursday, December 29, 2011

PRINCE EDWARD – To expand or not to expand, the question remains unanswered.

County school board members have again opted to wait to take an additional look at adding more participation slots for the Regional Governor's School.

The school, which serves multiple jurisdictions, is housed at Southside Virginia Community College and affords a challenging curriculum to qualifying students, but the issue in the more recent past for Prince Edward has been finding enough of those students to participate.

Director of Exceptional Programs Ellen Wood presented a proposal at the December 7 school board meeting to add three additional slots for the coming school year.

“…We're proposing to you that we add three additional slots to the Governor's School, which will give us eight slots completely and put the program back into balance where there would be four seniors and four juniors basically as we proceed into next year and into the following years, as well,” Ms. Wood offered.

The cost per slot is $3,221.84, or a total of $9,965.52 more, for a grand total cost of $26,074.74 for all eight.

Ms. Wood had also highlighted that they offer many verities of programs, such as independent study, dual enrollment and Advanced Placement at the high school to meet the various needs of the individual students.

Currently, the school has five slots, with four juniors and one senior participating. Without the expanded number, next year there would only be one opening for a junior.

Board Chairman Russell Dove assessed that in the past they've had some unused slots and cited concern about making sure the slots are utilized.

Ms. Wood offered that they “certainly will do everything we can to encourage students to do that when they make the original application and go through the testing” and through the selection process. She added that she did not know if they were capable of offering a positive guarantee, noting that it's always the students right and parents right to decide where the student will go in the fall.

While there is no written deadline, invitations will be issued to those who qualify in May with an opportunity to accept or reject it. Ms. Wood cited that they have a back up list after the top four coming down in rank.

There are 78 sophomores eligible to apply for the coming year and Ms. Wood said she hopes to have a meeting in January for parents and students to see if there is interest. The school division has a February 1 deadline to commit on participation.

Board member Dr. Osa Sue Dowdy suggested it might be good to recognize governor's school students at graduation. It was also cited that those who complete governor's school earn an associate's degree.

Board member Linda Leatherwood also asked for a guarantee that the Governor's School would receive the proper attention. Ms. Wood, while she couldn't guarantee the attention otherwise, “But from me, yes.”

In the end, pending the informational meeting, the board opted to delay action. Still, the Board would have to make a decision on the program's future minus a definitive commitment from students.

Applications will be weighed in April, following a deadline by the Governor's School, and ranked and invitations will go out in May.

“So what we'll know by the January meeting will be initial interests,” Division Superintendent Dr. David Smith said.