RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – The Petersburg school district has a deadline to bring in a partner to help the district revamp its operation. The district must choose the contractor by a May 1.
Here to discuss the impact it could have on the Petersburg is Doctor Bill Bosher our education specialist.
Ryan: Dr. Bosher you and I talked a lot about Petersburg and their work to get in line with the state and some of the requirements the state has. They already missed a couple of deadlines when it comes to this. Do you get the sense now that they are getting things back on track?
Dr. Bosher: I am not sure they get the idea yet, because we said earlier there was a kind of a resistance, maybe not so passive. I've had a call since the last interview saying that's not the case, but previous behavior would say it is. Remember what got us to this point. The state can't take over schools, so they declared that six of the districts in Virginia of 132 were not performing. And so there is a provision in the law that says they can take the school board to court. However, they've attempted to enter procedures along the way that would prevent that. Petersburg is the last one of those to be left.
Ryan: Right. So now the state has come in and said here's four different independent outside contractors that can come in and help you with this. Once this contractor is selected, is there any indication that Petersburg is ready to make that choice?
Dr. Bosher: Great question, Ryan. After they make the choice, and remember that they once were asked to select someone, and did not. And when asked 'what are you going to do now', they said 'we will keep doing the same things we've been doing for young people', which is amazing because that's why they are in this bind now. However, the state says, 'okay, we're in a jam, what are we going to do now? We'll select four for you.' So Edison, Johns Hopkins, Pearson and Cambridge were selected. Out of Petersburg has come the comment, 'well, Petersburg wasn't involved enough in those.' They had a chance already. Now they say April 26 they are going to select one. They are required by May 1st. The next issue will be your question, what is the negotiation now, and will that fall down as well.
Ryan: Right. Because once the contractor is selected, there's got to be a contract written, I would assume, and it will require some cost on behalf of Petersburg. When times are tough, could this become even more delayed, even though they've set a time to pick a contractor?
Dr. Bosher: My guess, and I hope that I'm absolutely wrong, but I would project that this is going to be an extended contract negotiation, which means we'll get ourselves now into the next school year, and we won't have one, and so then there will be another opportunity to see if Petersburg can do it on their own. And I think in good faith with them, they have -- they are saying we can do this on our own. Problem is they haven't done it yet.
Ryan: Could they get to the point where the state just gets so frustrated they actually do take them to court?
Dr. Bosher: I think that's the only thing left for the state. They can't take them over, so in order to put teeth in this thing, because the state and Petersburg are both at a 'what do we do next'.
See the video at right for the full interview.