Petersburg school restructuring plan

By Nicole Bell - bio | email

Posted by Terry Alexander - email

PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) - The school system followed the state's request and solicited vendors to run the independently managed middle school program, but the companies that applied didn't qualify. Now, the state is requiring the school system to revise it's request for proposals and to re-advertise for the job.

The independent program would operate in a section of Peabody Middle School in Petersburg. Three companies applied for the job, and all were rejected.

"One of the vendors we didn't even interview because they had no experience with school turnaround efforts," said Dr. James Victory, Petersburg Superintendent of Schools.

School leaders appeared in front of the state board of education to give a progress report. They requested the implementation of the program be delayed by one year. That request was denied.

"We can't lose anymore time," said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Patricia Wright.

The state did agree to move the deadline by a few months, stating the contingency plan should be in place no later than February 2010.

"I have every reason to believe this will work. We've got to get effective teachers with strong leadership for the program," Dr. Wright said.

The restructuring plan is in response to the school system not meeting academic benchmarks outlined in an agreement with the state board of education. Right now, only one of seven schools in Petersburg is accredited.

"I have to tell you that we've been watching benchmarks all through this year and I have to share that as of this moment the gains are incredible," said Dr. Victory.

SOL testing will start in a few weeks. If all public schools in Petersburg aren't fully accredited by the end of this school year the restructuring plan will become a reality.

For middle school parents that means choosing to have your child learn under the independently managed program or by Petersburg public schools.

Just to recap the new timeline. The school system will re-advertise for the job on May 25. A vendor is expected to be selected by August 10. And the restructuring plan in place by February 2010. Again, the restructuring plan will only be an option if all Petersburg public schools aren't fully accredited by the end of this school year.

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