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Important events set this week

Published 9:43pm Monday, August 12, 2013

This week holds a couple of momentous events that should be of importance to all citizens of Suffolk, especially those who take an interest in the affairs of the city government.

First up, on Wednesday, there will be a joint meeting between the City Council and School Board.

There will be some hot topics up for discussion, including school employee compensation, funding, student achievement, shared services and communication between the two bodies.

The relationship between City Council and School Board has been strained in recent years, especially as it relates to funding during the economic downturn. The schools don’t feel the city has funded them well enough to do their job and subsequently blame falling standardized test scores on the teacher departures and larger class sizes caused by the shortfall.

Meanwhile, the city has called the school division’s funding proposals “unrealistic” and continues to give it less than it requests.

Past joint meetings between these two bodies have been tense, with members exchanging statistics they believe support their opinions.

The tension makes for good headlines, but it doesn’t do the citizens, school employees or students any favors. If joint meetings don’t produce meaningful communication on important topics, they are time wasted.

City Council and School Board members, as well as top administrators for both bodies, should arrive at Wednesday morning’s meeting well-informed and willing to listen. The meeting starts at 10 a.m. in City Council chambers, 441 Market St.

Later in the week, a historic event will take place Saturday at 11 a.m. in Lone Star Lakes Park.

At the Nansemond Indian Tribe powwow, a deed-signing ceremony will take place to transfer land in the park to the tribe, whose ancestors lived on that very patch of ground.

The tribe hopes to build an authentic replica of a dispersed Nansemond village. The development will include educational displays, powwow facilities and more.

This project has been more than a decade in the making, and a variety of delays have made it take so long. I tried to get an answer last week on whether the deed would actually be signed during this ceremony, but I was told the program hasn’t been finalized yet.

Regardless of whether it is signed during the actual ceremony, the formal transfer should take place without delay so this project can move forward. I’ll be in attendance at the ceremony, privileged to witness history made once again and report on it in the paper.

I would encourage anyone who is free Saturday to do the same.

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