Open Letter to School Board re: Summer Retreat Agenda

Among the principles that inform the political philosophy of, these two are key: 1) conduct the business of the public in public, and 2) afford the public abundant opportunities to weigh in before deciding public policy. We are opposed, therefore, to the Portsmouth School Board taking up during the summer retreat scheduled for today and tomorrow two action items that we believe should be considered in a regular or special meeting. The items in question are the adoption of the revised student code of conduct, item 7.3, and the approval of a contract for transportation services for students with special needs, item 7.4. Continue reading

The Portside Smokescreen

Fans of “A Prairie Home Companion”, that all-weather mainstay of public radio, became well acquainted with the manners and customs of Lake Wobegon, MN, the mythical “little town that time forgot, that the decades cannot improve”. The venerable scribe of Portsmouth, Ms. Ida Kay Jordan, would be right at home there, too, spinning her yarns about fabled Portside-on-the-Elizabeth, the enchanted venue in which, by her account, all people were truly created equal and good times were enjoyed by all. (See her latest homage in the May 7, 2017, edition of the Portsmouth Currents or online at KEEP THE NEW PORTSIDE “SIMPLE, FUN”.) With substantial support from city council for a Portside resurrection and a possible handout from the Virginia Port Authority for some or all of the $750,000 projected cost, she might well see a new structure rise close to where its predecessor stood. Continue reading

School Board Candidate Forum, August 25, 2016

The People for Portsmouth Political Action Committee hosted a school board candidate forum at the Scottish Rite Center on Cedar Lane. All eight candidates — incumbent Board Members Sarah Duncan Hinds, Ted Lamb, Keith Nance, and Costella Williams; and challengers Angelia Allen, Lakeesha “Klu” Atkinson, De’Andre Barnes, and Joanne Clarke — attended and gave good account of themselves. Ms. Laura Geller, the lead investigative reporter for WVEC-TV13 News Now, served as moderator. Continue reading

Open Letter on School Board Reorganization (updated 07/02/2015)

Mr. Chair and Honorable School Board Members:

In advance of your annual reorganization meeting on Thursday, July 2, I write to encourage a change of chairperson. Although I have warm personal feelings toward Chair Bridgeford and consider him an exemplary human being in many respects, for the following reasons I believe he should step down as chair: 1) rotation of elected leadership is healthy for elected bodies; and 2) taking responsibility for leadership failure is essential to maintaining a credible public entity. Continue reading

Consultants Report Survey Results

At the Portsmouth School Board work session on Thursday, October 9, 2014, the executive search consultants assisting in recruiting a new superintendent delivered a progress report. Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates (HYA) walked the board members through a PowerPoint Presentation (a copy of which is available here as a PDF download) identifying the stakeholder subgroups participating in interviews, focus groups, or online survey; strengths of the school system; challenges, concerns, and issues facing the schools; and desired characteristics of a new superintendent. A three-page matrix organizes the characteristic list by participant ranking across six subgroups: administrators, local businesses, community members, parents, students, and teachers/support staff. The highest ranked attribute was “listen to and effectively represent the interests and concerns of students, staff, parents, and community members”. (To see the meeting and hear the explanations from the HYA presenters, tune to PSET — Cox Channel 47 / FIOS 38 and 40 — or on demand from the PPS video stream.)