A proposal by the Virginia Senate to have Chesterfield administer Petersburg's struggling public school district blind sided officials in the troubled district.
The proposal is an alternative to a state takeover of two failing City schools: A. P. Hill Elementary and Peabody Middle School. It includes $1.6 million over two years to fund transition costs, an incentive outlined in the Senate's 2014-2016 budget unveiled late Sunday. Senator Henry L. Marsh III represents Petersburg and expressed strong opposition immediately following the announcement.
In interviews Monday, numerous Petersburg parents expressed optimism and said they would feel a significant change if Chesterfield could share success with its neighboring district.
"Anything to help the kids," said Diedre Williams, a Petersburg resident with family attending A. P. Hill. "I would like to see Petersburg not be considered as the underdog, as far as education is concerned."
"Why not incentivize high-performing divisions to take over a failing school in a neighboring community?" Bosher said during an NBC12 broadcast. "We need to prevent localities from engaging in the yearly rite of apologetics."
The question remains if both districts would accept a takeover plan, if the final budget includes the incentive funds. The Virginia Senate and House of Delegates must agree on a compromise budget before the 2014 session ends March 8.
In statements issued Monday, neither Petersburg nor Chesterfield Schools took a position on the plan.
"We're surprised to learn of the proposal," wrote Petersburg City Public Schools Spokesperson Nicole Bell. "We will stay abreast of developments from the General Assembly regarding this issue."
Chesterfield Public Schools released a similar statement.
"The administrations of Chesterfield Schools and Chesterfield County have been made aware of budget language included by the Senate Finance Committee," wrote Chesterfield Schools Spokesperson Shawn Smith. "We will continue to monitor the budget language, and would respectfully refer any questions to the Virginia legislature."
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