VBOE wants to host CAP forum in Franklin

Published 1:38 pm Friday, April 25, 2014

RICHMOND—Concerned that the Franklin public had not spoken on the Corrective Action Plan for Franklin City Public Schools, the Virginia Board of Education wants to come to Franklin.

VBOE President Christian N. Braunlich said the issue of community engagement is very important to the board, particularly in a situation like this.

“It is our intention to hold a public hearing before we vote, so we can hear what the Franklin city citizens have to say about the plan,” he said. “What ideas they may have that are not in there. Maybe there are ideas in there that weren’t such good ideas, that they want taken out.”

FCPS Board Chair Edna King favors the board’s visit, and said she and central office would work with Dr. Kathleen Smith, director of the Office of School Improvement, to set up a date.

“In awareness that we do need support, thank you,” King said.

VBOE members also had ideas toward improving the corrective action plan.

Dr. Billy K. Cannaday Jr. thought the superintendent didn’t just need to be the leader of the school system, but also the person who guides the board members in their responsibilities.

“It is very difficult, especially as a lay board because there are other parts of our lives,” he said. “If it is not an explicit part of the plan, you will find that you have not one superintendent, but 5-6-7-8-9 with the board members.”

Cannaday said being a school board member is a difficult job and members are responsible for a lot of information, so they need a good superintendent to make sure board members don’t unintentionally get in their own way. He compared it to what Dr. Patricia I. Wright, superintendent of public education, has to do with the Virginia Board of Education.

“She has to work with a lot of new board members on readying them to do their best work, and not do any harm,” he said. “It is not intentional, but it can happen. The superintendent needs to be the board developer.”

VDOE member Diane T. Atkinson had three areas of concern with the CAP. She wanted to beef up the sections dealing with principals in the area of leadership, making sure the lead turn-around partner is more involved with the CAP, and the biggest thing, the role of parents in the school district.

“The issue of parent engagement is very important,” she said. “I’m not talking about parents volunteering. I’m not talking about PTA. I’m talking about parents as partners in the education of children.

“Earlier, we had said it needs to be all hands on deck. One of the major hands needs to be parents.”

Board Vice President Winsome E. Sears also wanted the students to have a voice, and Braunlich thought that was a good idea for the public hearing that board will host at a later date in Franklin.

“The definition of public input is very broad,” he said, saying that it included parents, students, teachers, staff, members of the business community and other stakeholders.

The board president added that there was another important factor to remember — how this relationship is viewed.

“If we are going to help Franklin City Public Schools move forward collaboratively together, it has to be viewed not as Richmond coming down telling people what to do, but as Richmond talking and listening to the Franklin city community,” Braunlich said.