Local / Norfolk / Politics

What’s up, Norfolk?

Norfolk mermaidNorfolk Schools appleWell, for one, the superintendent of schools has decided to abandon his charter schools plan. Actually, it appears the decision was made a while back:

King mentioned changes to his charter school plan, dubbed the Transformation Initiative, in January board meetings.

Also in January, the board approved plans to apply to the state Board of Education for a waiver to open the schools identified as charters before Labor Day. Such a move would have given schools more flexibility to increase instructional time and remediation, King said.

But the administration never applied for the waiver. (emphasis mine)

Really? Makes me wonder two things:

  • Was this, as others have said, just a smokescreen to try to buy some time until the division could figure out how to deal with OEI, the former governor’s proposal to take over failing schools that has now been gutted by the GA?
  • If the division didn’t apply for the waiver, what took the superintendent so long to tell us about it?

Although I have no children, as I’ve often said, I want to see our schools succeed. Regardless of the reason, this doesn’t make me happy. What’s next, coach? What exact steps are going to be taken to improve the Norfolk Public Schools?

I’m guessing allowing the city manager appoint a deputy police chief isn’t going to have an effect.

Maybe an elected school board would help? Another effort is underway. We’ll see if it ends up having any more success than the previous ones.

Speaking of school boards – apparently a former member, one not reappointed when his term expired, has decided to run for city council. Let’s tell the truth about what’s really going on here.

Norfolk Councilman Tommy SmigielAs the article states, Tommy Smigiel beat Randy Wright for the Ward 5 council seat four years ago. Rumors have swirled for a while that Wright was going to challenge him this May. As recently as a couple of months ago, when Wright had his Christmas party, the sentiment was strong that Wright was planning a run; I’m told the event was like a campaign kickoff. Wright has apparently decided against it. In his place is his BFF Jim Driggers.

Norfolk needs more independent voices, like Tommy’s, on council and fewer who give in to the powerful monied interests of our city, probably the biggest reason that we don’t have an elected school board, among other things. The last thing we need is someone who will, even indirectly, put Wright back on council. Given his legacy, we need to make sure that doesn’t happen.

I don’t live in Ward 5, so I can’t vote for Tommy on May 6. But all of Norfolk can vote for him – with our pocketbooks.

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9 thoughts on “What’s up, Norfolk?

  1. I think it was the OEI combined with Dejong-Richter telling the school board, in much nicer words, that they are stupid for trying to redistrict schools in the middle of the transformation initiative.

    The website for the school board referendum is: http://www.electedschoolboard.com

    Third time is the charm, hopefully.

  2. DeJong Richter has said they still think Norfolk should start the redistricting now. The part of the redistricting for high schools will be held up because of lack of funding for the CTE which is years away. The half empty Lafayette-Winona will have to be dealt with very soon. The transformation imitative has not shown how it would increase academics at the 10 schools. The biggest thing is Stolle’s HB577 which will probably pass the GA which permits a division superintendent to set the academic calendar for any school that failed to achieve full accreditation status and allow the entire local division to set the calendar if 15% of the schools failed accreditation. No waivers needed if this passes. Tag Greason’s HB333 which allows school divisions to set their own calendar probably won’t pass the senate but it did pass the house. I have set through every meeting even the ones that were 7 hours and I can tell you most of the problems come down to money and now Va. Beach is giving their teachers a raise while we are going to once again offer a bonus to teachers to leave and no raises to the ones that stay. Then we will hire new teachers for less money and less experience and wonder why our schools still struggle.

    • It’s smart to start the redistricting process, but any major changing of lines is premature. Until NPS can accurately give Dejong-Richter numbers for the capacity of new schools scheduled to be built and fill in all of the details about any new district wide schools, they can’t accurate calculate what they attendance lines should be.

      Or as Dejong-Richter put it, decisions are always based on the information you have at the time. So if we redistrict now, it will be a good decision, until a couple years from now when it turns out to be wrong and the whole process has to start over again.

      • Not only are you correct but the fact that the decisions about which schools to replace, when, and how, was taken from the School Board and School Administration by our City Council makes it impossible to make decisions about some of those attendance zones. What will the capacity for each new school be? Who knows? Will we try to preserve some of the historic buildings such as Larchmont ES or the Art Deco building Ocean View ES, only if the public is allowed more input which doesn’t seem to be popular with some on our City Council.

        • Wow I didn’t realize the city had taken those decisions completely away from the school board. I thought they were just going to oversee the construction, but clearly that includes programming the capacity and design. No wonder the school system had to make up numbers to give Dejong-Richter.

          I remember watching the video of one of the word sessions and the person from Richter gave a number for capacity of a new school and Dr. Houston said they had not even decided what that number was yet. Richter said they were given a number, then Dr. Houston turned to his staff who confirmed that they just gave him a number once asked.

          Honestly you could probably pick any group of people from a construction site and they would do a better job than our current school board. At least they understand the necessity of having completed plans before spending $190k to make new ones.

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