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Opinion – School Board is holding all the cards

In their game of political poker with the Board of Supervisors, the Prince Edward County School Board is holding four aces. Here’s how it should play this hand.

County leadership has said the lack of a quality school system is holding the county back economically. They have said it is difficult to get companies to come here because of the school system’s poor performance.

County leadership may have just been giving themselves an excuse for what is now 926 days without a major economic announcement. When we get to 1,000 days do we get to throw a party? Probably not.

It’s time for the School Board to turn the tables and tell the supervisors to get out the county checkbook or shut their yaps.

The School Board needs to come to the Board of Supervisors with a solid plan to improve school performance. It should include the following demands.

Ace of Hearts — The supervisors should provide funds for Prince Edward County Schools to give significant teacher and staff salary increases that will make the county not only competitive, but a desired locality for teachers to want to work here. Prince Edward should pay better than the neighboring counties and recruit the best teachers from surrounding counties to come here.

Ace of Spades — Prepare a list of additional support positions needed to make Prince Edward competitive academically. These could be guidance counselors, teacher assistants, art and music teachers, resource officers and whatever else is needed to help students achieve and perform well in the classroom.

Ace of Clubs — Facility improvements. Remember in May of 2020 when the supervisors spent $1.5 million on a field of dreams for their imaginary data center? The Prince Edward Elementary School roof was leaking then, and they knew it.

The School Board needs to remind the supervisors that all the data centers don’t locate in NOVA because the people who work there love the daily commute and the cost of housing. Northern Virginia has some of the best school systems in the state with top notch facilities. Perhaps the $1.5 million could have been better spent patching a school roof than providing another stop on the county’s bus tour of economic boondoggles.

Ace of Diamonds — The county has done a great thing in raising $12K for 12 $1,000 scholarships as an incentive for students to receive COVID-19 vaccinations. Why not make this an annual thing and expand it? The School Board should ask the county for $1,000 scholarships for any graduating senior who plans to further their education at any university, college, community college, vocational school or apprenticeship. The $1,000 offer should also be provided for those who go to the military.

These students’ families will likely have paid thousands in county property, personal property and sales tax over the years. Think of it as a small county tax rebate.

With these demands on the table, we will quickly see if the Board of Supervisors is really serious about making our schools better or if they are just playing a political blame game.

The School Board is holding all the cards. It’s time for them to the lay the aces on the table and rake in the pot.

ROGER WATSON is editor for The Farmville Herald and Farmville Newsmedia LLC. His email address is Roger.Watson@FarmvilleHerald.com.