School Board needs backbone

Published 4:41 pm Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

Is Dr. Jim Thornton up to his old tricks of manipulating the Isle of Wight County School Board?

At the Dec. 9 board meeting, Thornton said that Susan Goetz had nine principals reporting to her, but her executive director title was being eliminated. Then he presented a new organizational chart wherein a new deputy superintendent will be hired in the 2022-23 school year. If he recommends Goetz for deputy superintendent, the board should table it or vote “no” for these reasons, among others:

  • At the Oct. 14 board meeting, I asked the board why Goetz had not done her job for six years, not having a curriculum for teachers aligned with the Standards of Learning in violation of school board policy and state law. She stated at the Aug. 12 board meeting that IWCS did not have an “aligned curriculum” and thus was purchasing the Hampton City Schools’ curriculum, costing us $66,000-plus.
  • How has Goetz supervised the principals for the last seven years, when IWCS policy CBA plainly states the superintendent supervises the principals?
  • Why did Dr. Thornton ask the board on Dec. 9 to approve an organizational chart with an elementary and secondary director showing them supervising principals in violation, in my opinion, of law and policy? He knows by policy it’s his job to supervise the principals, or was he just manipulating the board so he has less work to do ?

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A school board member’s job, elected or appointed, is to make decisions based on policy and the law, and to hold employees accountable for their actions. For too long, some citizens have not trusted Thornton nor the board and have seen little transparency from either.

A new board and a new year have arrived. Will there be a change? By school board members’ actions in coming days and months, capabilities in the position and determining who works for whom will become apparent. I’m willing to give the board the benefit of the doubt, for now.


Herb De Groft