Skeeter: More communication

Published 10:16 pm Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of stories about School Board candidates. Chuckatuck borough candidates ran on Oct. 1. Look for the rest on Wednesdays during October: Holy Neck on Oct. 15, Sleepy Hole on Oct. 22 and Suffolk on Oct. 29.

Running unopposed in the Cypress borough, veteran School Board member Lorraine Skeeter says she aims to improve communication with City Council.

Skeeter, 74, was appointed to the School Board in 1993. The selection mechanism switched to elections thereafter, and her name will be on the ballot in her sixth election in November.



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Skeeter was a teacher, early childhood education school director, business owner and community action administrator before retiring from the Southeastern Tidewater Opportunity Project as vice president of employment and training programs for adults.

Her education experience — “having been a teacher, having worked with programs and budgets and things of that nature,” — qualifies her for re-election to the board, she said. She also cited her 25 years of service so far.

Skeeter attributes funding issues with the city during the past few years to communication problems. “We need to inform (City Council about) what it takes to run a school system,” she said.

“I think their focus is on quality of life. They do speak of education, but I think we have not gone to them in later years and (gotten) them more involved in knowing how the school system operates — and the needs. I really think we need to come together as adults and explain what we need.”

If funds were available, better communications would result in more local funding for schools, according to Skeeter.

On standardized test scores, the district “didn’t make the mark” in the latest round, Skeeter said, but it came close. And improvements were made.

The district needs to focus on having the right staff, she said, and enough of them. Test scores and funding “are kind of like white on rice,” she said.

“It’s a great plan,” Skeeter said of the superintendent’s strategic staffing plan, which has drawn fire from some others.

The board supported the plan and had the opportunity to change it, she said. “We supported it because we could see it will improve the school system,” she said.

If need be, board members will be able to change the plan as implementation progresses, she added.

On another issue the board has recently debated — school security — Skeeter favors Suffolk Police Department providing school resource officers.

“I was in there when we negotiated with City Council to provide that service,” she said. “The arrangement we have, I don’t have any problems with.”

But the officers could probably be more involved in the curriculum, she added.

Skeeter invited any citizen displeased with the quality of public education in Suffolk to visit a school and talk with parents.

“I would say the citizens who seem to feel (quality is lacking), come and visit with the programs that we have,” she said.