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For whose benefit?

SoVaNow.com / July 16, 2014

Dear Viewpoint,

Recently a group of school board members gathered, outside of a public or open meeting, to discuss Dr. Thornton’s contract. Later that evening an email was sent out by our School Board President stating that “they” felt Dr. Thornton’s contract should be renegotiated (extended). “They” being the members who had this private, and questionably legal, pow wow. It was also decided that this issue would be voted on at the July 23* School Board Meeting. *Although the website lists the meeting on July 21, I have been told by multiple sources that the meeting is actually Wednesday, July 23 at 7pm.

I am gathering that since this issue has neither been discussed at a public meeting nor has the public been notified of the board’s intent that, once again, our “representatives” have no intention of actually representing us, but instead doing what they want.

Dr. Thornton’s contract has already been extended once, earlier than necessary. His current contract is set to expire in 2016. At this time, I am not sure if the new extension would take his contract to 2018, 2019, or 2020. I’ve received conflicting information in that regards. Either way, it is clear that our school board did not intend for the public to have a say in this matter.

My belief is that the reason behind this sudden need to lock Dr. Thornton’s contract in place for this length of time is most likely two-fold. First, our school board members are up for re-election next year. Once replaced, if the new school board does not wish to continue with Dr. Thornton as our Superintendent, they are free to allow his contract to expire in 2016. However, if this new extension passes then the new school board is either stuck with the extension or they are forced into a position to buy out his contract at great expense to the taxpayers. Neither is a desirable option. Second, I believe that the board would like this done before the official report is released in August stating that all of our schools have lost accreditation.

I would like to believe that it is because of Dr. Thornton’s extreme desire to remain devoted to our children and see our schools return to Fully Accredited that he wishes for this contract expansion. Sadly, since I have been made aware that Dr. Thornton is job hunting, I feel this is not the case. It is clear that the desire lies in financial security and not in doing what is best for our students.

I will not waste your time by throwing numbers and statistics around. Abbott and Costello proved that 13 x 7 = 28 if you manipulate the numbers. This is not about SOL scores (where we happen to run significantly lower than the nation in scores), teacher turnover rates, loss of accreditation of our schools in three short years, outsourcing of jobs, busted up furniture, donated supplies being taken to the landfill, a bus driver without a valid Virginia license, the continued desire to outsource our buses, the fourth year in a row of schedule changes, the replacement of every middle school and high school principal in the county, the misappropriation of funds, or the recent $8,400 trip by our administration to an indoor water park for training- the funds from which would have better served our local businesses. This is about our students and what is best for them.

I won’t state that all Dr. Thornton has done has been bad. However, this does not change the fact that for the past three years this county has been in near constant turmoil due to the current school board, our Superintendent, their decisions, and the unhappiness of not only the parents, but the students and teachers as well.

Furthermore, as determined by the General Assembly, the Opportunity Education Institution (OEI), and the Board of Education: since most, if not all, of our schools will no longer be accredited, the school board is now tasked with evaluating our Superintendent and submitting a report to the Virginia Board of Education by Dec. 1. In addition, the Board of Education may take action against the local school board for failure to maintain accredited schools. I truly believe that our school board needs to spend more time focusing on this evaluation and the possible outcome if the OEI takes over our school system then worry about extending a contract that is not due to expire for two more years.

I hope to see you on the 23rd.

Kimberly Mullins
Skipwith





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