‘Sail on’ through stormy seas

Published 11:23 pm Friday, February 6, 2009

For the past three years, Suffolk School Superintendent Milton R. Liverman has relayed the same message to those attending the State of the Schools Breakfast: The state of Suffolk Public Schools is good, in fact, very good.

Despite the constant drumbeat of worrisome economic news, his message this year was the same.

Liverman told staff and community partners gathered for the annual event that despite facing one of the most difficult budget years, Suffolk Public Schools is still in good shape.

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“This is not my moment,” Liverman said. “This is our moment, because we’ve made the state of Suffolk Public Schools good, we’ve made it very good.”

Liverman went on to say that the schools will face more difficulty in the next year in the wake of the reductions from the state level.

But he assured the crowd that faculty and staff of Suffolk Public Schools will not lower their expectations of their students. In other words, a cut in funding is not a cut in standards.

“We will use the challenging circumstances to make us better,” Liverman said.

Liverman also said that in the face of tough economic cuts he would do everything to place employees whose positions have been eliminated.

“It’s not things that have made us successful,” he said. “It’s the people.”

Liverman then turned the audience’s attention to a video highlighting all of Suffolk Public School’s successes throughout the year.

The video praised the system for launching the Parent Connection program, through which parents can view teacher’s grade books online. Also referenced was the new International Baccalaureate program, under which incoming freshmen can take accelerated courses in order to be more competitive after graduating.

The video also boasted that Suffolk public school students have earned more than $9.7 million in scholarships to more than 150 colleges and universities.

Liverman recalled a quote from Carter Woodson, the famed African-American historian and author who founded Black History Month, who said that the purpose of a good education is to take students from where they are and move them to where they need to be.

“The real meaning of success,” Liverman said, “is found in the difference we make in the lives of our young people.”

He concluded his remarks thanking the men and women in the city, the community and the schools who make a difference in the lives of Suffolk’s younth, and he encouraged them to continue to do so in the year ahead, regardless of the economic situation.

“The seas may be getting rough, but we have to sail on,” he said.