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Legislative Day at Louisa County High School

Posted on Thursday, December 6, 2012 at 10:39 am

Dr. Pettit (l to r), Dr. LuAnne Unruh, assistant superintendent for instruction, Del. Peter Farrell, and Tom Smith, LCHS principal, talk about the success of the Building and Trades classes with Larry Reed while students work on a number of different projects.

In honor of Take Your Legislator to School month, Louisa County Public Schools welcomed Delegate Peter Farrell to the county on November 29.

The event, designated by the Virginia School Boards Association, gives school systems a chance to connect with their representatives and talk about local school programs and state funding issues.  Peter Farrell is in his first term representing the 56th District in the House of Delegates.

The morning began with a breakfast discussion of legislative priorities. In addition to Superintendent Dr. Deborah Pettit, School Board Chairman Greg Strickland and Willie Harper, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, presented key issues addressing the schools and county.

Pettit then led the group on a walking tour of Louisa County High School’s Career and Technical Education programs, which are building skills and giving local students a jump start on their careers.  In each of the past three years, an average of 178 LCHS students earned credentials and 209 students completed an advanced CTE course. More than 800 LCHS students enroll in at least one CTE course every year.

The tour then moved to the middle school, where Farrell met with eighth-grade civics students. The delegate explained how a bill becomes Virginia law, how the branches of the state government function, and the differences between the federal and state process.

During the question and answer period, a student asked Farrell if he had ever passed a bill he regretted. The delegate said that with only one session under his belt, few of his legislative decisions had been tested by time.  But he did discuss flaws in the education legislation passed by the General Assembly in recent years.

“We don’t allow enough creativity in the classroom in the way we set up SOLs,” the delegate said.

Throughout his tour and class discussion, Farrell demonstrated that he has done his homework on education issues, citing studies that the United States spends more money per pupil than any other nation in the world.

When a student asked him if he thought that they should have to go to school for 180 days through the year, Farrell responded that students in some other countries have shorter days, but approximately the same number of school days through the year. He added that he does not support the so-called “King’s Dominion law,” which requires schools to begin the school year after Labor Day or receive a waiver, as Louisa does. Farrell said that he didn’t think the General Assembly should tell each school system when the school year should begin.

The 56th District includes all of Louisa County, and portions of Goochland, Spotsylvania, and Henrico counties.