Two contend for School Board seat

Published 9:31 pm Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Board’s chairwoman, Lorraine Skeeter, will be challenged for her seat in the Cypress Borough by William Goodman.

Both candidates have a long history of civic involvement in Suffolk.

William Goodman

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William Goodman is a native of Nansemond County and attended East Suffolk High School. His five children graduated from Suffolk Public Schools.

He served for eight years in the US Army and entered civilian service as a supervisory air traffic controller. He has since retired from civilian service and has been a substitute teacher since 1988.

William Goodman

“I’ve been a part of the system, and serving as a substitute teacher it’s made me aware of the needs of the system,” Goodman said. “I felt as though, at this point in time, based on some of the problems in the system that maybe there is something missing in the system that maybe I can offer a different perspective on.”

Goodman’s current civic involvement includes service on the Planning Commission, as president of the East Suffolk Gardens Civic League, as commander of the Suffolk chapter of Disabled American Veterans and as a member of the East Suffolk Federated Civic League, National Association of Retired Federal Employees and East Suffolk High School Alumni Association. He also has a long list of past civic involvement.

He believes his position as a planning commissioner gives him special insight and knowledge into the issue of building of a new school to serve the southern end of the city.

The new school should be built according to the comprehensive plan, whether that is the current plan or one that is revised, he said.

“We have to consider the city as a whole,” Goodman said. “This school will have an impact on the whole city. The school should go where the comprehensive plan describes or where an amendment to that plan describes it should go.”

In order to help meet federal testing benchmarks, he said, the schools should have more early prevention programs.

“The program is ‘No Child Left Behind,’ but let’s make it ‘don’t let any child fall behind,’” Goodman said. It will take more effort from parents, teachers and the students, but it’s necessary to help bring those scores up.”

Goodman said he is especially proud of the school system’s academic programs.

“To me they have a tendency to indicate in a system the cohesion in that school,” Goodman said. “When someone can bring students together for one purpose it helps the whole school. It’s unbelievable.”

Still, he would like to see more done to reduce the drop-out rate, more done to enhance learning and achievement without layoffs and to ensure all students are given all the help they can receive before being assigned into special education.

Lorraine Skeeter

Lorraine Skeeter has served on the Suffolk Public School Board for 17 years and as chairman for the past 8 years.

She is a graduate of Suffolk Public Schools, and her three children and four of her grandchildren have graduated from the schools. She has one grandchild and one great grandson in the schools, as well.

Lorraine Skeeter

For the past 33 years, she has worked with Southeastern Tidewater Opportunity Project, better known as STOP. She is most recently its vice president of education and training and will retire on Oct. 29.

Before STOP, she was a teacher and director at Prestige Jordan Day School and Kindergarten, preceded by being a bus driver for Suffolk Public Schools.

“I feel that I’ve been here long enough to see the advancements in the system that have taken place in the past 17 years,” Skeeter said. “Because I know about the needs, know about financial crisis we’re going through, am having a hand to select the superintendent and have the expertise I’ve gained from my time here, I feel I can still help the schools, especially since recently losing some top level administration that had years of experience.”

Skeeter’s current civic involvement includes being a member of P.D. Prudent Industrial and Technical Center’s board, Zeta Epsilon Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority and Suffolk chapter of Links Inc. She also has a long list of past civic involvement and awards.

Regarding the new southern elementary school, she said, “My ideal position would be to build two schools, but since that has not been approved, I have voted to build the school in the Holland area because that is where the growth is. The School Board is supposed to be filled with visionary people. We have to look at the long range.”

Regarding federal testing benchmarks, she emphasized the schools are doing better than they have in the past, that each year the benchmarks are raised and that while there may be some academic issues contributing, attendance levels are also a contributing factor.

She is also proud of the SOL standards that schools worked hard to achieve and the six new schools she has seen built during her time on the Board.

She has several goals she would like to work on next year, but at the top of the list is getting teachers more money.

“I want to see funding from the city for a program or we need to reduce and restructure our programs so we can use those funds to give our teachers a pay increase,” Skeeter said. “They do a great job, and if we want our children to receive a quality education, we have to help reward the teachers for giving them one.”