Monday, May 3, 2010

Roanoke City School Board appointments and future school restructuring

Annette Lewis

At Monday’s Roanoke city council meeting Suzanne Moore was reappointed to the Roanoke City School Board. Her term was set to expire June 30, 2010. Courtney Penn did not reapply for another term.

Penn served during a tumultuous time of budget shortfalls, school closings and school bus outsourcing. He was key in the arduous process of redrawing the school system’s attendance zones.

In Penn’s place will be Annette Lewis director of This Valley Works Program at Total Action Against Poverty (TAP). This Valley Works hosts the annual college football game, Western Virginia Education Classic that the Vice-Mayor Sherman Lea has chaired for over 10 years.

Lewis will begin her term along with Moore July 1.

The other applicants for the school board included Reverend James Beatty, Chris Craft, John Elliott, Jr., Joelle Miller, and Brenda Tatum. Public interviews took place April 19 and citizens voiced their recommendations for candidates at the 7:00 p.m. meeting the same day.

At the morning joint meeting with the school board – Chairman David Carson and Superintendent Rita Bishop thanked city council for their critical monetary support of the schools.

Carson left no doubt that the school system as citizens know it today will drastically change in 2013. “We must change the way we structure ourselves … we will be operating at a new normal going forward,” admitted Carson.

Attracting and retaining staff with a salary freeze concerned Bishop as she pointed out that they had just lost one highly valued teacher to another locality. Responding to Councilman David Trinkle’s question on the pay difference in this instance Bishop replied that the difference in salary was $5000 annually.

Deputy Superintendent Curt Baker confirmed that when comparing other school districts reporting compensation data Roanoke ranked 118th out of 132.

Uses for Huff Lane and Round Hill Montessori School will be explored in the coming school board sessions. Carson said there needed to be “win/win opportunities that would allow responsible development of one or more of those areas while benefiting the schools.” He asked Council to be open to appropriate zoning changes that would accommodate their marketability. A discussion before the June board meeting will be made on Round Hill Montessori School because “the employees are waiting,” said Carson.

Trinkle defended the downtown CITY school contending that “its presence creates a vibrant city.” Bishop indicated that the programs could move to each of the high schools. Council member Gwen Mason countered Trinkle saying, “that it’s not about the building – it’s about the program.” Mason serves on the Facilities Committee and noted the low participation of William Fleming students.

Vice-Mayor Sherman Lea said he wasn’t sure about “kids going for coffee breaks” downtown and it seemed “there are some things that [the city] can do “ economically with the downtown building.

Some of the programs saved include Governor’s school funding, DARE, resource officers, elementary Spanish, career education and the restoration of the summer school program, staffing positions and crossing guards.

Bishop informed council that interviews with the three candidates for William Fleming High School principal were concluded Friday but no final date for a decision was offered.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Education, Roanoke City Public Schools

Tags: , ,

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