Editorial – Our schools have to do better

Published 8:39 am Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Prince Edward Supervisor Jim Wilck is absolutely right. The Prince Edward School system has to perform better academically. This is a critical issue for the future development and growth of our community.

If Farmville and Prince Edward County want to attract young professionals, high tech industry and data center operators, the school system is going to need to do better. No one wants to send their child to a high school that ranks in the bottom 4% of the state.

How would you rate the Prince Edward County School System?

  • Dreadful (45%, 156 Votes)
  • Poor (34%, 117 Votes)
  • Fair (12%, 41 Votes)
  • Good (7%, 23 Votes)
  • Excellent (2%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 344

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Looking through the varied sites that rank schools, it is hard to find any category where Prince Edward County Schools excel.

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Our school system is holding us back as a community. We can’t let that happen any longer.

We are a two college town that apparently lacks any semblance of a quality public education system to actually get our students to one of those colleges.

Statistics from U.S. News and World Report show only 4% of Prince Edward County High School students passed an exam in an advanced placement course. Only 11% of students enrolled in an advanced placement course. Test score statistics from the Virginia Department of Education are well below average in math at 61%. That’s well below the state average of 82%. Reading score are at 61%. The state average is near 78%. Writing scores are also at 61%. The state average is 76%.

The big question Wilck seems to be asking, and the question every voter in Prince Edward County should be asking is where is the school board?

If you had to grade the school board on their job of providing the resources and guidance for a quality school system, the results would match the state ranking of Prince Edward High School that Wilck provided from schooldigger.com.

So far, we have seen this school board fail to repair an elementary school roof. Because of the leaks caused by the lack of repairing an elementary school roof, they now say they need an entirely new school. This is like someone who fails to change the oil in their car and then asks for a new one once the engine blows up.

Why is there not a member of the school board shouting from the rooftops about these issues? If they think they need more money, better teacher pay or better facilities, why are they not at every Board of Supervisors meeting banging on the lectern demanding to be heard?

It’s as if they all have accepted their lowly ranking and the poor status of their facilities. They seem to have absolutely no communications or relationships with the Board of Supervisors. The two boards are not working together.

As members of the Prince Edward County community, we need to hear a plan from our school leaders. How are they going to make this situation better? What do they need in resources to improve our schools? Are there root causes and issues we need to address as a community to help the schools perform better?

We don’t hear or see a plan. We don’t hear a plan from the school board. We don’t hear a plan  from School Superintendent Barbara Johnson. Listening to them talk, it would appear the status quo is as good as it is going to get.

This status quo is not acceptable. This community has great aspirations and great potential, but our school system is a five ton anchor dragging us down.

Wilck’s message to the school system that the status quo is not acceptable is welcomed and warranted. It’s time more voices echoed the same message.

The views in this editorial are of The Farmville Herald editorial staff. This editorial was written by Editor Roger Watson. He can be reached at Editor@FarmvilleHerald.com or (434)-808-0622.