Fawcett no friend of the schools

Published 9:45 pm Tuesday, November 1, 2016

To the editor:

Upon reading the letter to the editor, “Fawcett Supports Public Education,” written by Dr. Michael Debranski, chairman of the School Board, I was at first shocked, then dismayed.

Dr. Debranski gushed over Mr. Fawcett for making sure the two schools in the northern end of the city were built. They were an issue four years ago when he was elected, yet it took more than four years to get them built.

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What the people of Suffolk need to know is that those schools have been on the capital improvement plan many years prior to being approved, and City Council continued to delay their construction.

The middle school couldn’t be delayed any longer, as the number of students far exceeded the capacity of the core infrastructure at John Yeates. Students start lunch at 10 a.m. and finish at 2 p.m. The state would not approve for lunch to be served any earlier than 10 a.m., and school dismisses at 2:15 p.m.

Due to the fire code, they couldn’t put more students in the cafeteria. Classes have to be dismissed by gender so they have enough room to travel in the halls.

Class sizes have expanded due to no space for new classes. I personally substituted for a seventh-grade social studies teacher who had more than 30 students in her class. That in itself is absurd.

How many parents would invite 30 seventh-grade students to come to their house with only one adult to supervise them?

As far as the elementary school goes, how many elementary schools are there in the state of Virginia with more than 1,000 students, like Creekside?

Dr. Debranski also praised Mr. Fawcett for strongly advocating for pay raises to help the school division retain teachers who had been leaving the school system.

Has anyone looked at teacher salary scales in the Hampton Roads area? Suffolk lags behind by as much as $3,000 for first-year teachers and as much as $17,000 at the top of the scale. Suffolk supposedly got this big raise and they are still in last place.

Evidently Dr. Debranski hasn’t been informed, but teachers are still leaving Suffolk.

On Mr. Fawcett’s web page, he lists “Fully fund our public schools” as number one on his list of “Important Issues.” Has he really voted that way?

The School Board’s initial budget has been voted down each year over the last four years. It has been returned to be pared down. I understand that we can’t always fully fund everyone’s budget request, but if he put it in writing in order to get elected, he should be true to his word.

The citizens of the Sleepy Hole Borough owe it to themselves to make a change when they go to the polls on Nov. 8.

The issues that were present in 2012 in the Sleepy Hole Borough are the same now as they were then. Water prices continue to soar, there is poor drainage and a need for sidewalks in Pughsville, and teachers are still the lowest paid in the area.

Make that change and vote for Ray Batton for city council.

Kevin Alston