PE Supervisors Seek To Meet With School Board To Discuss SOLs

Published 3:01 pm Thursday, October 16, 2014

PRINCE EDWARD — County supervisors want to talk Standards Of Learning (SOL) tests but where and when are still to be worked out.

The school board last week proposed a dinner meeting November 12 at the school.

Supervisors countered Tuesday night with a November 18 proposal, minus the dinner, at the county’s courthouse.

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“Some of the board of supervisors had requested such a meeting due to results of the last SOL testing results,” commented County Administrator Wade Bartlett at Tuesday’s meeting. “(I) believe some of the board members wanted to hear some of the steps that the school board has taken or will take to address that concern.”

It was not a good year for the County’s public schools. The elementary school, though no longer a Focus School (in the bottom ten percent of Title I schools in the state), is accredited with warning at the state level; the middle school is accredited with warning, but has been deemed a Focus School; and the high school was within one three-year average in one statistical category of being fully state accredited. They, too, are accredited with warning at the state level.

The school board had sought to add other issues to the agenda when considering the County’s request. Chairman Russell Dove proposed that they put together an agenda of issues—and that was expected to include the school’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) and more information on performance management (which takes a look at specific energy-related projects). They are also expected to have some additional information regarding the potential expansion of athletic fields.

Buffalo District Supervisor C.R. “Bob” Timmons Jr. cited that they are a few months away from the budget process, noting that he would “just as soon table” the other issues. There is no money in this year’s budget to fund it, he added.

Still, some supervisors favored giving the school board an opportunity.

Leigh District Supervisor Jerry Townsend said they should give the school board a chance to speak. If the school board and the superintendent wanted to talk about renovations and repairs, he said, “I think we owe it” to them to hear them out even though it may be a repeat (in the budget process) down the road.

“The original request was to meet with the school board to hear, to talk about the SOL performance of the schools academically and what they were gonna do and the plans they had to change the direction of the schools and with their education,” Timmons said. “And…this was brought up at the school board. They would like to tag on…to that meeting this additional discussion. So, I think that…we need to do and talk about what we’ve asked for them to present to us. If we want to talk about other things, I’m not opposed to that, but…we can set another meeting for that where we can just talk specifically about that and what their plans are.”

Right now the concerns are not necessarily the building, he added, what are they going to do to change the direction and the performance of the schools.

The proposed November 18 meeting would be held at 5 p.m. in advance of the 7 p.m. rescheduled monthly board of supervisors meeting.
Supervisors Townsend and Gray highlighted that after dealing with SOL issue they could allow time for the school board to voice their concerns if time allows.

“I’m not opposed to having another meeting, but the thing that I don’t want to do is to have a meeting to talk about SOL and the performance of the schools, what they’re gonna do to change it and then all of a sudden, oh we need to move off of this subject and talk about something else,” Timmons said. “And…I’m just afraid that that’s what will happen to it, we won’t have the proper dialogue to do that.”

Chairman Howard Simpson cited the timetable, suggesting that they can schedule a second meeting after the one planned for November 18.

Ultimately, the board seemed to reach a consensus to focus on the SOLs in the first meeting, then schedule a second meeting to hear the school board’s concerns.

Supervisors have the opportunity to forward specific questions in advance of the meeting for the school board.

Timmons, citing SOL performance, said that he wants to “know what they’re gonna do to change that outcome—this year, next year, five years from now. I want to know what their plans are because right now we can’t continue with our schools going the way we’re going…It’s ludicrous to do that.”

He would later follow up that they want specifics, as best they can. “I don’t want a lot of roses and petals and lilac water and spray around. I want to know specifics.”