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Danville's negative perception on social media impacting school district

Perception making filling vacancies tough

DANVILLE, Va. – For all of the negative things that can be said about Danville, just as many, if not more, positive things can be said.

But the school district is finding that that message may not be getting across on social media.

Danville Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Stan Jones said that's disappointing.

"The best thing anybody can do before they commit to any community is visit it. Social media has made it easier for people not to visit," Jones said.

"There are people who aren't part of our community that are going to rely on social media to make their decision about whether or not our community's safe."

At Thursday night's school board meeting, a representative from the district's human resources department told board members that the perception of the city on social media is keeping some people from accepting positions with the district.

Jones said despite what that may suggest, the district is having success recruiting candidates.

The real challenge the district is facing is one facing districts all across the country.

"The harsh reality is, we're doing everything we can and figuring out what else we need to do, but there is a critical shortage of teachers," Jones emphasized.

One man WSLS 10 spoke to in Danville Friday about the perception of the city said he has a hard time deciding what perception to have.

"This town's gone through a lot of changes, and it's still going through a lot of changes," Daniel Fitzgerald said.

Another man WSLS 10 spoke to recently moved to Danville.

He said even though he doesn't know much about the city, he's ready to leave.

"(You've) got lovely parks, but there's really nothing to do here in Danville," Jeryl Reid said.

Danville City Manager Ken Larking said he does not personally know of any instance in which something said about the city on social media has caused a business to decide not to come to Danville.

Like Jones, he doesn't believe the apparent negative perception of the city on social media is representative of the city.

"These companies that are taking the time to investigate Danville, they're probably looking at a lot more than just one particular thing to see whether or not it makes sense to move into this community," Larking said.

"There are a lot more positive things happening here than there are negative things."

As an example, he noted the two awards the city has just received from the Virginia Municipal League for the creation of a children's book that has been given to all fourth-graders in the city and for the work being done by the city's public-access TV channel.

Regardless of your perception, what you see and what you hear, especially on social media, may not always tell the whole story.