Schools for students in Whaleyville, Holland at issue

Published 8:47 am Wednesday, September 8, 2010


SUFFOLK—Suffolk School Board will continue considering a location for an elementary school to serve the Whaleyville and Holland areas.

School Board members have nine “legal options” that have been presented by their attorney to consider as part of the process.

Last week, the City Council turned down a School Board request for a joint meeting. The meeting would have given the two groups a chance to discuss an issue that they have batted back and forth for months.

At issue is the location of an elementary school that would replace the aging and deteriorating Robertson and Southwestern Elementary schools, which serve the Whaleyville and Holland areas.

With City Council support for only one school site to serve the small student bodies at both existing facilities, School Board members have worked to find a location somewhere in between the two communities that would reduce travel by students from both areas.

City Council, however, has stood behind Suffolk’s comprehensive plan, which calls for schools to be built within the city’s villages, or downtown. Members recently made their own recommendation for the new site, suggesting that the school be built in Holland.

Acknowledging the apparent impasse between the two bodies, School Board Attorney Wendell M. Waller has presented his board with nine options for resolving the situation.

That list, after being sought through a Freedom of Information request by the Suffolk News-Herald, was provided by the School Board “as a courtesy” to the City Council prior to its meeting last week.

Among the options under consideration are the following:

• Choose a school site within either Whaleyville or Holland.

• Approve an unidentified site, which, according to Waller’s document, “is the only site currently under consideration by the School Board, that comes close to meeting the Comprehensive Plan’s desire to locate the school in a rural village.”

• Ask the City Council to amend the comprehensive plan so a school could be located outside the villages.

• Amend the school system’s capital improvements plan to allow for separate schools to be built in the two villages, and ask for extra money from the city to build both schools.

• Amend the capital improvements plan to provide for renovating both existing school facilities and ask for the money to accomplish the project from the city.

• Amend the capital improvements plan to allow for renovating one of the existing schools and replacing the other and ask for the city to fund the projects.

• Table any action on replacing or improving the schools until more money is available for school construction.

• Indefinitely table any action on replacing or improving the schools.

The School Board meets at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 10, in the City Council Chambers at 441 Market St.