12/06/06 — Tough, focused: New chairman of the school board has hard work ahead

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Tough, focused: New chairman of the school board has hard work ahead

Wayne County Board of Education chairman Shirley Sims has inherited a tough job.

The newly elected leader of the school board — along with her vice chairman, Thelma Smith — will have a lot to deal with in the coming year when it comes to the future of the county’s schools.

First, there is the unfinished business of the facilities plan and a new deadline to make sure that this year — finally — there is actually a budget item that results in improvements in the schools.

Second, there is the issue of Goldsboro High School and the work that needs to go into making sure that school comes off the state’s watch list.

Add to that continuing calls for more attention to curriculum and test scores in the county’s education program — and the circumstances that affect teacher and school effectiveness — and you have a full year.

Mrs. Sims has a reputation for being tough and saying what she thinks. In fact, her fellow board members referred to those qualities during her election process.

She will need that determination — and some willingness to push — as she takes on her new role.

There are important issues to tackle — and there won’t be time for any bickering or deviation from the topics at hand. The school district has a chance to make some changes that will impact generations of Wayne County students — and it will be Mrs. Sims’ job to make sure that focus remains on everyone’s minds as discussions begin.

And she will also have to continue to shepherd the negotiations with the Wayne County commissioners, whose input is critical as the county prepares to possibly ask residents to open up their wallets in support of the schools.

This is a chance to forge a new spirit of cooperation and a renewed dedication to making Wayne County’s schools among the best in the region. Mrs. Sims will help set that tone, just as her predecessor, John Grantham did during his term as chairman.

The new board chairman will need to stay a fighter for what she thinks is right, and to continue to hone her diplomacy skills if she wants to get anything done this year. And her community is counting on her getting something done this year.

It is a calling she will answer with a style all her own

Published in Editorials on December 6, 2006 10:55 AM