The Greater Smithfield-Selma Area Chamber of Commerce wants to spark a discussion about local schools.
The chamber’s board of directors recently adopted a statement highlighting the importance of quality schools, and the group has scheduled a public forum on the topic for 6 p.m. Nov. 30 at the Johnston Medical Mall in Smithfield.
The statement calls on the community to come together to establish a common set of goals to improve the performance of schools in Smithfield and Selma.
“To achieve a legacy of excellence in education and economics we should be unified in promoting and enhancing our area’s economic, educational and social well-being,” the proclamation reads. “We believe that our schools are a shared responsibility.”
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Numerous metrics show that Smithfield and Selma schools lag the rest of Johnston County. For instance, on the state’s recently released report card, 81 percent of Johnston’s schools earned a C or better on the state’s latest report card. Of the nine Johnston schools that earned below a D or F, two-thirds were in Smithfield and Selma.
The chamber believes that school issues are a community issue, and the directors hope the public forum will help to gauge opinion on the matter, president Rick Childrey said. Ideally, the group will come up with four or five ideas that residents can put into action to support the schools better, he said.
Everyone is welcome to come and speak, Childrey said, not just chamber members. The goal is to hear from local leaders in business, government, education, civic groups and churches, as well as parents, teachers and other community stakeholders.
“We want as many folks to come as are able to,” Childrey said. “There’s a lot of opinions out there, and we don’t necessarily know what they all are.”
In the past, Johnston County Schools Superintendent Ed Croom has said the community needs to focus on the positives at Smithfield-Selma schools and give them support. To that end, Croom said he welcomes the chamber forum and that he plans to attend and participate.
The school system encourages community input, Croom said, because having an open dialog is the best way for schools to work well in the community.
“We’ve asked for that, we want that, and we definitely encourage that,” Croom said.
The chamber hopes to make the schools discussion the first in a series of community conversations. Future topics will focus on other issues relating to the quality of life in the area, Childrey said.
Want to go?
When: 6-8 p.m. Nov. 30.
Where: The auditorium of the Johnston Medical Mall, 514 N. Bright Leaf Blvd.
More Info: Call the Greater Smithfield-Selma Area Chamber of Commerce at 919-934-9166