Big decision looms for School Board

Published 10:56 pm Tuesday, July 7, 2009

For the past year, the fates of Robertson and Southwestern Elementary Schools have been up in the air.

Will the schools be consolidated into one building? Will two new schools be built? Or, will the existing schools just get the much-needed renovations?

These are questions that could finally get an answer Thursday night.

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“I think it’s time for us to come together and make a decision for what we’re going to do,” said Lorraine Skeeter, chairman of the school board.

The Suffolk Public School Board has again put the system’s capital improvement plan on the agenda for its July meeting. Specifically, the board is scheduled to vote on how to direct funds for the two rural elementary schools.

The issue is not new to the board.

“We haven’t had an activity be this drawn out this long before,” Skeeter said.

For months, board members have heard public input, awaited budget allocations and listened to City Council’s proposals. Last month, when the issue was supposed to be brought for a vote, School Board member Enoch Copeland suggested the board take a field trip to tour the bus routes for five South Suffolk schools before making a decision.

Last month, the board took that trip.

After spending four hours on the road in a school bus, the members saw how long it takes students to travel to school each morning.

Skeeter said she did not know if the trip swayed the opinions of the board members. She added that she has not talked about the schools’ possibilities with any board member, because the board has not convened since that trip.

“We’ve tried to stay apart and make up our own minds,” Skeeter said. “I haven’t had time to even discuss it with them. And, on the trip, we did not discuss whether this caused us to change our minds whether we wanted one school, two schools or something else. All we said is when we get back to the board meeting we know we’re going to discuss the CIP.”

Skeeter said that she does not know how the vote will turn out and added that if people present more information on Thursday, the vote might need to be postponed again.

“I think it’s time for us to speak up, but I don’t know right now what will happen,” Skeeter said. “Let’s see what happens on Thursday.”

The board meeting will take place in City Council chambers at 7 p.m. Thursday night.