04/09/08 — Leaders to meet to talk about schools

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Leaders to meet to talk about schools

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on April 9, 2008 2:34 PM

A group of business leaders united to improve the education system in Wayne County anticipate meeting by the end of the month to form four committees addressing the most pressing school needs.

Jimmie Edmundson, senior vice president and city executive of BB&T and a member of the business group, said he met Tuesday afternoon with County Manager Lee Smith and Schools Superintendent Dr. Steven Taylor. The next step is to discuss progress with the county commission and school board.

At earlier meetings, the group decided to have four work groups that would involve members of the community.

The committees target the most troublesome areas, Edmundson said -- workforce readiness and graduation rates; teacher recruitment and retention; public perception of Wayne County public school system; and board communication between the commission and school board.

A few meetings have already been held between the business leaders, Smith and Taylor, Edmundson said, as well as some joint meetings of the commission and school board. Now it's time to come together, he said.

"There are some school board members and some county commission members. I'm sure their counterparts have told them what took place at (our) meetings," he said. "We feel like we need an opportunity to meet with these groups to make sure everybody's on the same sheet of music and headed in the same direction."

A meeting is planned for the end of April, Edmundson said. No date has been set.

"We'll do a short Power Point presentation, discussing what we discussed at our previous meetings, where we feel like we're at, what the next steps are, and go from there," he said. "Out of that, we'll form those four work groups."

In the meantime, the business group plans to meet with a human resources group on Tuesday, at which time they will hear an update on the WorkKeys program and then give their own report, requesting suggestions for people to serve on each committee.

The nominees might or might not include members of the business community, Edmundson said, which is just fine with him.

"The thing that we don't want to do is make this look like a small group has been involved in this up to this point and that we dictate what future groups do," he said. "We just want to say these are the areas that have been identified as troublesome."

The aim is to have the committees active by early May, he said.

"We hope to move very quickly so that by the time we get to the end of the summer, we'll have a lot of things in place that ought to make people feel good about where we're at," he said.