School Board Member Responds to Criticism

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Dear Editor:

First, I want to thank all the teachers, administrators, and parents who have been supportive of me in my work on the school board. I am doing my best to educate myself on matters of our public school system. If I called on you for your input and guidance, please know I value your opinion and appreciate your insight.

I always want to make informed decisions when it comes to school board issues. People elected me because they wanted me to be thorough and ask questions. I am not the type of person who sits and smiles and rubber stamps everything in order to have a short meeting. I seek different sources of information and do not rely solely on the information provided to the board by the central office. At times the information provided by the central office (in my opinion) is minimal at best. I use multiple sources to learn more about topics and issues and will continue to do so.

I have been criticized for contacting the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) and asking questions and seeking clarification about the $13.2 million grant. I am careful with my own money but I am VERY careful with (your) taxpayer money. I hope that ACPS makes the most of this money. For anyone who doesn’t know, the VDOE is a state agency, available free to anyone and everyone. The people who work there are subject matter experts and should be considered a resource for anyone wanting to learn more about the public education system in Virginia. I encourage all of you to go to the website and look up our school division. What you find might be very enlightening.

Several members of the community have expressed their frustration with the central office and school board having a last-minute public hearing about the $13.2 million grant on Aug. 24 (deadline Sept. 1), requiring a third and unscheduled school board meeting. Community members cited a memo dated April 30 from the VDOE (https://www.doe.virginia.gov/administrators/superintendents_memos/2021/110-21.pdf) requiring public input be sought for the use of these funds. Other school divisions had multiple public hearings and offered online surveys that could be completed by community stakeholders.

As always, please feel free to contact me with your ideas, questions, or concerns.

Janet Martin-Turner
School Board Member
Accomack County