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To A Faithful 12-Year Old Reader Of The Herald, And PE Public School Student

In reading Rob Chapman's excellent and thorough coverage in last Friday's edition of The Farmville Herald regarding the outpouring of support for increased public school funding in Prince Edward County, there was much to lift the spirit.

There were so many people speaking at the Board of Supervisors public hearing on the budget, urging the County to fill the holes made by state funding cuts, even if it means raising taxes to do so.

So many people putting the interests of Prince Edward County's children ahead of their own self-interested bottom lines.

Magnificent. Rally around that belief.

An effort was made by a local person, endorsed by a resolution from the Prince Edward County School Board, to establish an endowment for the Prince Edward County Public School System through General Assembly legislation to appropriate the state funds the Commonwealth did not spend on public education in the county during the five years of Massive Resistance. That proposal did not gain traction in Richmond this year but an effort will be made again next year because it is the right thing to do and there are generational impacts still rippling from the closure of schools here that an endowment can help address.

Meanwhile, the people of Prince Edward County, in partnership with the Board of Supervisors, can begin creating the effect of a local endowment by providing the funding necessary to make Prince Edward County's public schools the best in the state. That should be the goal. Nothing less than that.

The General Assembly may never do the right thing with that five years worth of funding, but that doesn't mean the people of Prince Edward County cannot take history into their own hands, keeping in mind that no local funding was spent on public education during Massive Resistance, either. Also, one of the possible scenarios for successfully lobbying the General Assembly to appropriate those five years of state funding that remained in Richmond, despite the state continuing to collect tax revenue from Prince Edward County residents from 1959 to 1964, is for the County to provide some form of matching dollars.

Last week's public hearing, and the voices that continue to be raised in the community and on these pages, indicate there is strong support for increased funding for public schools, even if it means raising taxes. There is no more important reason to do just that than public education. I was born in Prince Edward County and have gone to college or worked here since 1975. Though I don't live here I feel a sense of home here. If the Board of Supervisors does increase taxes for public education I will put my money where my mouth is and will apply that tax increase to my own house and property and voluntarily write a check to Prince Edward County for the amount of that tax increase. Doing so seems like the right thing for me to do.

Those unable to attend last week's public hearing were able to feel they had been there, thanks to Mr. Chapman's thoroughly detailed coverage. One of the many speakers was a county resident who powerfully advocated for more school funding. She also said this: “My 12-year-old daughter, who's an avid reader, faithfully reads the Farmville Herald twice a week every week.”

To that young lady, I say 'Thank you. Thank you very much. And I applaud you most heartily for such interest and concern for this community that is your home. As you read this edition, think back to Mr. Chapman's coverage of the public hearing. Look, also, at the letters to the editor over there to the right. Let the meaning of all of these words resonate deeply within you-the words spoken by your own mother and so many people just like her who care enough about you and every child attending Prince Edward County's public schools to stand up and speak out for what they believe. And how what they believe in includes you and your friends and classmates. How they believe in your future and want your education to provide the best possible lift-off into the orbit of your life's journey. And how they are willing to pay, to invest in your lives.

Feel the love and faith in their caring.

Don't ever let go of that feeling.

And when your turn and time in life comes to speak out, have complete confidence to speak your beliefs and to live your beliefs, and to teach your children the same wonderfully important lesson.

I don't doubt for one moment that you will do just that in a very special way.

We are in a relay for light in this world, receiving the torch from those who have come before us and taking it ahead into places where others pray for illumination, taking the light that has been passed to us as far as we can before passing it, in turn, to someone else who stands waiting, willing to run the light as far as they can.

You, young lady, will carry the light with you a very long way.

Sincerely…

-JKW-