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Supervisor questions school system’s performance

County Supervisor Jim Wilck is disturbed by the performance of Prince Edward County Schools.

The Farmville representative on the Board of Supervisors presented a page of stats concerning the county schools Wednesday, June 2, during the joint meeting between the Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors and the Farmville Town Council.

Jim Wilck

“Over the last four years, we have declined in SOL scores. We have declined in statewide performance as far as ranking of our schools go, and our enrollment has actually gone down by 100 people,” he said.

Wilck’s information shows Prince Edward County High School ranks worse than 96% of high schools in Virginia. He said the school ranks 314th out of 327 high schools in the state. He also pointed out that none of the county’s public schools are accredited by the state. The 2019-2020 accreditation report from the Virginia Department of Education shows all three Prince Edward County schools as accredited with conditions.

“This disturbs me,” Wilck said. “This affects our economic development and things like that.”

Prince Edward County School Superintendent Barbara Johnson did not address Wilck’s comments about poor performance directly when contacted by email last week but did say the school system is moving forward in trying to address the issues brought about by the pandemic.

How would you rate the Prince Edward County School System?

  • Dreadful (45%, 156 Votes)
  • Poor (34%, 117 Votes)
  • Fair (12%, 41 Votes)
  • Good (7%, 23 Votes)
  • Excellent (2%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 344

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“Prince Edward County Public Schools, in partnership with the Virginia Department of Education, is focused on addressing the academic learning loss of our students over the last 15 months,” Johnson wrote in an email. “State accreditation has been waived for the last two years because of the impact of the pandemic on all schools across the commonwealth.  We continue to ready ourselves for the full return of our students in August as well as the summer reset that begins Monday.”

Johnson also wrote that the school system is working to prepare students for careers through industry certifications.

“Finally, In the midst of all of the changes, I would like to note that PECPS also continues to educate and prepare students for post K-12 and the general workforce through industry certifications,” she wrote. “As a result of these steadfast efforts and in collaboration with county partners, Prince Edward County will be recognized as a Certified Work Ready Community.  As we recover as a community, PECPS stands ready to support our children and will not waiver from its partnership with VDOE to provide focused instruction that impacts student outcomes.”

Data from U.S. News and World Report shows the county schools have a graduation rate of 86%. The graduation rate for Virginia is 92.3%.

Wilck said he and supervisor Beverly Booth have taken it upon themselves to do some investigation concerning the poor performance of the schools.

“This is something the school board should be doing, but they’re not at the moment,” he said. “We are doing it, and we will present it to them.”

Wilck’s research showed that NASA offers classes and other opportunities for students. He believes taking advantage of those opportunities can help the county’s education situation.