Taking a positive approach

Published 11:14 pm Friday, February 6, 2009

Considering the fact that they are looking at the first actual cut in their budget in memory, Suffolk Public Schools administrators had a surprisingly optimistic attitude during their annual State of the Schools breakfast on Friday.

Dr. Milton Liverman, superintendent, struck a positive note in remarks before a roomful of education supporters, describing the state of the school system as “very good,” despite understandable concerns about the potential impact of losing nearly $7 million in state funds.

The school system will be forced to cut 105 positions and hold pay at current levels for all employees, actions that the superintendent has said are bound to have an impact on Suffolk’s ability to continue its process of continual educational improvement.

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Liverman and others are especially worried that the economic crisis facing the commonwealth of Virginia will result in a cascade of problems that continues even beyond the current year.

It’s a reasonable concern, considering the fact that even the most optimistic predictions of a turnaround don’t envision it happening until late this year or early in 2010.

“We will use the challenging circumstances to make us better,” Liverman told those attending Friday’s function, adding, “It’s not things that have made us successful, it’s the people.”

His attitude shows a refreshing grasp of the school system’s strengths and of the way that it will weather the current economic storm. Suffolk schools and the commonwealth, in general, will indeed survive this storm. Both must continue along the course they have set.

As Liverman demonstrated on Friday, though, a little optimism can go a long way toward smoothing the ride.