School Board to meet with Council

Published 10:04 pm Thursday, August 26, 2010

The back-and-forth meetings and letters between the City Council and School Board on site selection for a new school could finally be coming to an end.

In a closed, special meeting Thursday, the Suffolk School Board voted to schedule a joint meeting with the City Council to discuss the placement of a new elementary school to serve the southern part of the city.

According to schools spokeswoman Bethanne Bradshaw, the board will present nine “legal” options to the council to help determine what the next steps will be to continue progress for selecting “a site or sites” for a new school.

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Bradshaw declined to elaborate on what the legal options were. She stated in an email that the options could not be discussed because they fall under attorney-client privilege.

School Board chairman Lorraine Skeeter said the board would discuss information and demographics with the council during the joint meeting.

“You can’t have a meeting without one-on-one conversation,” Skeeter said. “We need to meet together where we can all voice our opinions and come to consensus in a single setting. It will eliminate the misinformation we’ve had in the process.”

School Board member Phyllis Byrum, who represents the Whaleyville borough, said she felt the closed meeting was productive and that the board had made progress.

“We’ve made headway, and decided to meet with the council to have eye-to-eye contact and discuss some things there seem to be misunderstandings on,” Byrum said. “We want to show them information we have about things like bus routes and student population as well.”

The selected site would be home to a new elementary school to replace the current Southwestern Elementary School in Holland and Whaleyville’s Robertson Elementary School.

Earlier this year, the School Board submitted a proposed site on Copeland Road for consideration, only to have the Planning Commission and City Council turn it down because it did not conform to the city’s comprehensive plan.

Last week, the City Council recommended a site of its own to the School Board. It would fit the comprehensive plan because it is located in the village of Holland, city planners said.

However, the School Board then rejected that site at its scheduled meeting the next day, therefore setting up Thursday’s specially called meeting.