Prince Edward supervisors consider reversing School Board decision

Published 5:50 pm Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Less than five years after a referendum changed the Prince Edward County School Board from members appointed by the Board of Supervisors to an elected body, the Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors is exploring the possibility of calling for another referendum to reverse that decision.

“The clock is ticking,” County Administrator Doug Stanley said during the board’s Tuesday, June 8, meeting. “You don’t have much time.”

According to Stanley, a petition has to be drafted, signatures acquired and a referendum voted on by the board to place the question on the November ballot. Stanley said the board has 30 days to make the potential referendum happen.

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The board expressed frustration about the lack of candidates filing to run for school board positions. The board said qualified candidates did not want to run for office and felt an appointive process may yield improved leadership. The board also continued to discuss the overall performance of the school system and its negative effects on economic development.

“We have a problem in our community with our school system not being up to par,” Board Chair David Emert said. “That’s just what it boils down to.”

Supervisor Jim Wilck, who has been very outspoken on the issue, said he does not feel School Superintendent Dr. Barbara Johnson is capable of making the improvements and changes that need to be made.

“I’d be happy to bet money with anybody here that there is going to be no change,” Wilck said of the school system’s performance. “The superintendent is not capable of doing what needs to be done. I have been working on this a long time and I have no hope of anything being done.”

The idea of a joint meeting between the Board of Supervisors and School Board was discussed. Supervisor Dr. Odessa Pride said the School Board has to be open to ideas and suggestions from the Board of Supervisors.

“The School Board has to be able to accept our help and suggestions and until that happens…” she said.

“Regardless of what we do, as an elected board, they don’t have to take our advice,” Emert said. “Until they are willing to accept some help or guidance, straight talk or whatever you want to say, it’s kind of a tough, impossible situation.”