Impasse remains over school site

Published 10:38 am Friday, August 20, 2010

Once again, members of Suffolk School Board have locked horns with the City Council on a location for a new elementary school.

In a 4-3 decision late Thursday night, the Board declined a City Council recommendation that the school set to replace Holland’s Southwestern and Whaleyville’s Robertson Elementary schools be built on a lot in Holland.

“This ought to be about educational issues, not political ones,” School Board vice chair and Chuckatuck representative William Whitley said. “It ought to be about common sense and fairness to all the children this decision will affect.”

Whitley was joined in voting against the council recommendation by School Board members Diane Foster, Michael Debranski and Phyllis Byrum, who represents the Whaleyville Borough.

Holy Neck representative Enoch Copeland, whose borough is served by Southwestern Elementary, was joined in his support of the City Council-recommended site by School Board Chair Lorraine Skeeter and member Thelma Hinton.

“Both the villages are important to people in both communities, but there is no way to build a school in the middle,” Copeland said. “We need a school, and we need one now. We have to start somewhere, and Holland is the first place for a school.”

The School Board proposed a centrally located school site to City Council earlier this year and was denied, because the site did not comply with Suffolk’s comprehensive plan, which calls for schools to be located within the city’s villages and downtown area.

In voting against the council recommendation, the School Board reiterated its desire for the City to consider amending its comprehensive plan.

After the meeting, Skeeter said the next step would be to notify the Council of the Board’s denial of their recommendation and “go back to the drawing board.”