Tough talking local mayor criticizes school system


Smithfield Mayor John Lampe is even urging people in the community to show up to school board meetings with rotten tomatoes.

"I think every citizen in Smithfield should sit there and say, 'I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore'," he said.

» Watch: Uncut interview with Smithfield Mayor John Lampe on school problems. «

Lampe is upset about his schools. Smithfield Selma High School is the lowest performing in the county, economically disadvantaged with more than 60 percent of its students getting free or reduced lunch. The mayor says the problem is being ignored.

"If you speak to the school system that is their answer why the grades have fallen. But what the issue is, well it's the children. Or their parents don't emphasize education. And of course I tell them, you're blaming the victim," Lampe said.

Lampe should know. He has eight children, many of who went through the Smithfield school system.

"They have a finite amount of time and resources; they need to devote more of them to that school. I mean, if you go to a doctor that doctor treats sick people, they don't treat the well ones. What school should get the most services? It should be the school that needs the most help," Lampe said.

At Wednesday's school board meeting, a citizens' group spoke out as school board members listened.

While many agreed that something needs to be done, the superintendent says they are trying, trying to the tune of $5 million spent this year in resources alone to students in these two towns.

The problem is not going to be solved overnight, but Lampe says something has to change as soon as possible because of the rate of growth and more people moving to the area year after year.

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