Repair needs, excessive testing addressed at town hall meeting

Kim Robins - Posted on Feb 26, 2014 - 01:43 PM

Photo: At-large Gloucester School Board and Gloucester County Board of Supervisors members held a joint town hall meeting last Wednesday at the T.C. Walker Educational Center. Shown, from left, are Charles Records, John Meyer Jr., Kevin Smith and Ashley Chriscoe. Photo by Kim Robins

At-large Gloucester School Board and Gloucester County Board of Supervisors members held a joint town hall meeting last Wednesday at the T.C. Walker Educational Center. Shown, from left, are Charles Records, John Meyer Jr., Kevin Smith and Ashley Chriscoe. Photo by Kim Robins

Remarks from a Gloucester High School student drew the attention of county at-large supervisors and school board representatives during a town meeting held Feb. 19 at the T.C. Walker Education Center. 

The student spoke of sewage backups in the GHS culinary arts kitchen. He said the program’s instructor had put in for repairs year after year, but was told the fix was too expensive.

The ceilings at GHS also leak in places, the student said, as do wastewater pipes in restrooms. He did note that two of the school restrooms had been renovated.

“We weren’t aware of this (referring to the sewage backups and other unmet school repair needs), so you brought it to the right place tonight,” school board vice chairman and at-large representative Kevin Smith said in response to the student’s concerns.

The student’s grandmother also spoke, addressing a more familiar school concern—the overreliance on standardized testing. “The focus is not on all kids,” she said, with too much emphasis on the state’s Standards of Learning. “My grandson is an A/B student but is in an after-school program because he might not pass the SOLs (tests). We’ve been here three years and every year the emphasis has been on his passing SOLs and not on what he’s learned.” 

Ashley Chriscoe, an at-large supervisor and vice chairman of the county board, spoke in defense of the school division. “Our public school system does a phenomenal job of preparing every kid for what they will do after graduation,” he said. At-large school board member Charles Records said every child has to pass 34 SOL tests to graduate. “We have to have a matrix,” he added.