System Supported

Published 5:10 pm Tuesday, August 6, 2013

PRINCE EDWARD — Prince Edward is one of the few counties where county supervisors still appoint school board members. Board Chairman William “Buckie” Fore thinks that’s a good thing.

Fore, addressing leadership and good governance at a welcoming breakfast last Thursday for new teachers and administrators at the County’s middle school, spoke in favor of the current system.

“Prince Edward County is one of the few remaining counties in Virginia with an appointed school board,” he stated. “I have to say that I think this serves this county very well. Politics today is acrimonious, discordant and much of the time downright mean. I believe there’s no place in the school governance for politics and this kind of thoughtlessness.

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“Prince Edward County has an appointed school board, which in my opinion has its heart, its soul and its leadership in the right place. These individuals do not have to be politicians; they are just good citizens who are serving as volunteers and who strive to furnish the leadership and the direction to provide our young people the best possible education.”

The governance of the school system, he offered, is in their hands and their individual and communal leadership defines “the success of our schools.” Fore further urged each of them as newcomers to join with the school board “to provide the leadership that will continue to make a difference here…in the Prince Edward school system.”

School Board Chairman Russell Dove, who was not present for the breakfast meeting for job-related reasons, was later asked about the existing selection process. He noted that he does not have any problem with the process.

“Some people say that it doesn’t give the public or individuals a opportunity to be involved in the selection of the school board candidate. To some extent, I disagree…I believe if you have a concern or a particular choice…if you come out and make that known to the board of supervisors—now nothing is 100 percent—I believe 99 percent of the time, that’s effective,” Dove said.

He assessed that the public does have an opportunity to participate in the process, just not directly by electing the board member, but by voicing their concern to the board of supervisors.

“And then of course…if that doesn’t happen to your satisfaction, you always have a chance then when the next election for the board of supervisors…to again make your voice known,” Dove said.

The school board chairman added that he has talked to a lot individuals from other school boards where they are elected and he cited that “most of them will tell you that that system…is not perfect, that it has its drawbacks, too—individuals that run…just for a particular item or issue and after that they’re really not willing to be good participants or serve in any good capacity. So, I guess, in essence, what I’m saying is that…neither system is perfect. Both of them have their flaws.”

Fore, in his presentation, went on to explain that the role of the board of supervisors “is to provide funding for the schools and to appoint the school board who would provide leadership and good governance. I believe that our board continually succeeds in this mission,” he said.

The school system has experienced a funding reduction in state and federal dollars of about $3 million over the last three years, Fore highlighted.

“While there is no way that this county can replace the enormity of this gap, I am pleased that over the same timeframe, the board of supervisors did not compound the reductions by instituting reduced local funding as many of our neighboring localities did. In fact, your board of supervisors increased local funding to the schools by over $400,000, which I understand was mostly used for modest pay raises,” Fore cited.

He wished the new arrivals much success in the coming school year and urged them to be a leader in their role in the school system.