High weird shifts into high gear
Summer is here, the moon is full, and Goochland’s school administration continues to fix things that weren’t broken.
Last Wednesday, Lynne Venter, director of finance for the school system tendered her resignation to take a position with the Fairfax school system.
On Thursday the of student services specialist job was posted on the school website as an open position
Venter’s loss is a serious blow to the dwindling credibility of the school system. Her knowledge and experience made her an integral and valued part of the school administration.
These two job openings seem to indicate that the people responsible for running day-to-day school operations are voting against Goochland with their feet and running for the exit.
At the June 22 school board meeting, the board voted to rotate the principals of Randolph and Goochland Elementary schools. Stacy Austin of RES and Diana Gordon of GES have both worked long and hard to build good teams at their respective schools and must now start over in a year already overflowing with challenge.
Notice of the action was reportedly not included in the school board packet made available before the meeting, so those in attendance had no idea what was going on until it was over.
Sneaking this change in at a meeting when a lot of people are away is reprehensible. The stealth of the act confirms its sleaziness. Adding further tensions to a school system already stressed by the elimination of so many programs and teaching positions is irrational at best.
Reportedly, one school board member impugned Austin’s professional integrity to a parent by way of justifying the switch. That would seem to be a violation of Austin’s privacy and school board confidentiality policy. It’s a wonder that lawsuits have not been filed. School board members seem to believe that they are accountable to no one, except perhaps Dr. Linda Underwood, superintendent of schools.
This is outrageous. Has any member of the school board bothered to personally and independently verify the rationale Underwood used for this switch?
Austin and Gordon are well respected by the teachers in their schools as well as parents, students and the community at large. Is this switch yet another example of Underwood’s need to exert power? She obviously has no idea how to create a collaborative and mutually supportive organization. See Goochlandparents.com for more information about the school board meeting.
The parents of gifted students are frustrated that the school system has given little thought to how the needs of these students will be met. Visit the school website at www.glnd.k12.va.us to view the vapid and information-free slide show of the new “plan” for gifted education.
What is going on here? Is the school administration sabotaging the education process in Goochland? If so, they’re doing a pretty good job.
It almost seems like Underwood is trying to get the county will pay her to go away.
Many parents believe her dismissal is long overdue. What will it take for the school board to send her packing?
How did Underwood get the job in the first place?
Although the school board alleged that it was searching high and low for prior superintendent Frank Morgan’s replacement, in the end, they elevated Underwood who had been assistant superintendent.
After Morgan’s departure was announced, a random, unscientific sampling of teachers from most county schools indicated that they would prefer a new face to succeed Morgan. Underwood, they contended, was doing a good job in the second chair, but was not what they wanted in a superintendent.
Rumor has it that Underwood told the school board that if they did not elevate her to superintendent, she would leave and take all of the best teachers with her.
Many of those same teachers probably received reduction in force notices during teacher appreciation week and are now looking for other jobs.
We are still eighteen months and one budget cycle away from the possibility of a new school board after the 2011 local elections.
In the meantime, Goochland’s kids must put up with a school system lurching into deeper dysfunction. Affluent parents disgusted with the machinations of Underwood and “the boys” will move their children to private schools, or their families to functioning school districts. What of the people with no other option? For a few shining years Goochland’s schools moved ahead of the pack. Now, thanks more to a leadership vacuum than budget shortfalls, that achievement may become history.
Why is the school board permitting this to happen? In times of crisis, like these, administration, teachers, staff and parents must pull together to negotiate the rapids. Instead Underwood, seemingly with the approval of the school board, is rocking the boat, hard.
She needs to go over the side before the whole boat sinks.