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Wednesday, October 5, 2022


A team from the Middle States Association is in the Virgin Islands this week to determine whether three of the territory's public high schools will be accredited.
At this point the schools have temporary accreditation, but are under pressure to fix major problems involving student and teacher attendance, substitute teachers and school control over purchasing.
The Middle States officials are in St. Croix through Tuesday and move to St. Thomas from Wednesday to Friday, according to a press release Monday from acting Education Commissioner Ruby Simmonds.
The accreditation team will visit each school and meet with administrators, teachers, parents, students and union representatives.
The team will wind up its visit by meeting Friday at Government House with Simmonds, Gov. Charles W. Turnbull, Lt. Gov. Gerard Luz James and senators.
Simmonds said she met with principals of the three schools under review — including Charlotte Amalie and Eudora Kean on St. Thomas — and got assurances that some progress had been made in the four areas of concern:
— Student attendance. All principals said this is the area of greatest improvement, and credited block scheduling for the change.
— Substitute teachers. Simmonds said that in addition to identifying funds to create a substitute-teacher pool, she and the principals agreed on a plan to create an in-house substitute pool at each school using teachers on staff. She said she will work with the teachers' unions to implement the plan.
— More site-based control of purchasing. Simmonds said funds have been appropriated to replenish checking accounts for each school and she is working with the Office of Management and Budget to release that money. But the lack of revenues remains an impediment.
— Teacher attendance. Simmonds' release did not address this longstanding problem.
Sen. Norman Jn. Baptiste, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, voiced hope that the accreditation team will put stock in the territory's "collective commitment" to improve conditions in the high schools.
Jn. Baptiste said Turnbull administration officials have pledged to follow the Middle States' recommendations, and he hopes the accreditors will be content with a greater "commitment to improve," Radio One reported.
"We can find money for other projects but for the youth we give only lip service," Jn. Baptise said.

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