11/07/06 — Group shares opinions on schools

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Group shares opinions on schools

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on November 7, 2006 1:45 PM

Spending more money on the schools the county has rather than building new ones topped a list of suggestions brought by a community watchdog group to the county board of education Monday night.

The Advocates of Goldsboro and Wayne County, an eight-member group, first commended the board for holding public meetings to gain community reaction to the finance and facilities plan, but noted that some changes needed to be made to the proposal.

"Deleting new school buildings and prioritizing the remaining list could well be accomplished with regular allocations from county commissioners and the North Carolina Education Lottery Fund," Advocate Ulis Dawson said.

Dawson also addressed concerns about Goldsboro High School and said the situation should not be left for principals alone to solve.

"The threat facing Goldsboro High School is the greatest emergency facing the school board, the superintendent, his hired staff and the Wayne community," he said. "One citizen states that we are practicing 'intellectual child abuse.' Another citizen adds that the wound requires more than an bandage. This education emergency is of such magnitude that the community should be involved in the solution."

Advocate Neal Stitt read the group's list of requests. In addition to deleting the proposal to build new schools, he asked the board to consider placing highly qualified, certified and devoted teachers in the inner city schools; challenging all students with an interracial environment that will prepare them for the work world after graduation; continuing to involve the community in the planning process; supporting the superintendent and his staff in addressing high achievement in the schools; using vacant spaces and classrooms in schools to relieve the overflow in crowded schools; redrawing district lines to compensate for the population shift; and working toward more unity of school board members.

"It is felt that the practice of consistently passing the board chairmanship to four male members is a failure to recognize and accept the leadership of other members who are educators and who have achieved high recognition on the state level as school board members," he said.

Stitt said the Advocates' seek the best for all children.

"We look to the school board and the administration to act in ways that will not increase our taxes, ways that will not divide our school community, and ways that will assure frugality in planning," he said. "We believe that our superintendent was hired because he presented an effective plan for overseeing our system and educating all our children. Give him a chance to implement his plan and direct your attention to your responsibility of evaluating his progress."

While the school board does not typically respond to public comment at its meetings, several members chose to at meeting's end.

"Sometimes it might look like or sound like your words are falling on deaf ears, but they're not," said board member Thelma Smith, who told the group the board was addressing some of the needs and concerns.

Mrs. Smith said she appreciated the Advocates dedication and concern for all the children of Wayne County. Then she invited them to visit Goldsboro High School "because we know that school is the target of a lot of criticism and other things this year.

"Visit the Ninth Grade Academy. Take a look at how well it's going right now. It's already beginning to help."

She added that there are other measures being taken and assured the Advocates that "you're going to be happy. You're going to be pleasantly surprised."

"We still believe in you and are supportive of you," Stitt replied.

Board member Shirley Sims also commended the Advocates for their steadfast support of education. She said of the list that was presented, the school board is already addressing most of the concerns.

"Maybe we're poor communicators. We may not put the good news out as much as we should," she said.

Board member Rick Pridgen said he was pleased when he learned that Dawson and Stitt were at the meeting.

"I tell people all over the county that we have very few problems in our school system that good parental support would not solve," he said.