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Schools & School Budgets are not Sacred Cows

By Bob Shannon

In a few weeks another County budget season gets underway and as in the past I anticipate attending and listening to just how the 5 Supervisors will spend our money this year.  It helps to look back at last years deliberations and see what if anything was learned , or at least revisit a few past observations  that can give us some idea as to what we can expect this year.Remember the Citizen Input meetings, held in all 5 of the districts in January  2014, intending to solicit what citizens thought ?  I attended 4 of the 5 , recorded a few of them and just what citizen input did the BOS act on ?  Nothing, unless of course you include the handful who thought we should have higher taxes ( so long as they kept their own land use tax exemptions , of course). The folks like myself who wanted some spending restraint shown, and the line held on any tax increases got just what we have come to expect—ignored. At least this year the farce of Citizen Input was limited to one road show at the Administrative Bldg. sparing us from having to listen to the same tired dribble 5 separate times.

Last year Dr. Mark Jones Superintendent of KW Schools recounted in  local newspapers how the school system achieved rather remarkable test scores and specifically he mentioned that they had accomplished this ” in spite of the staff reductions of some 16 or so positions over the last few years” I asked then during the budget meetings the obvious question, since student population hadn’t increased appreciably , and Dr. Jones achieved these marked improvements with less staffing , why wouldn’t we just hold the line on adding back any positions ?  A fair and logical question , given the particulars I’ve just stated ……right ?   Hold on , I’ll come back to that in a moment.

   At a BOS Meeting some 19 months ago during a public comment period I addressed the Board and gave each Supervisor, along with Dr. Jones , each member of the school board and each school Principal a copy of a report from the Heritage Foundation ( a reputable institution ) that detailed the STAFFING SURGE IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS OVER A 20 YEAR PERIOD.  This report went into very detailed examples of just how much administrative staffing had increased relative to student population, and even teacher staffing. Any objective person reading it would have had the same question……are resources being needlessly wasted ? Why would we add any positions that are not necessary to the mission, one that I will repeat Dr. Jones said current staffing were doing well  ? Is this yet another example of “empire building ” ? No executive in the private sector would approve additional funding for more employees under these exact same circumstances. Only in the public sector is this absolute nonsense tolerated.  To this date, not one Supervisor or Dr. Jones, nor a single member of our school board have either publicly refuted or argued that the STAFFING SURGE report was flawed or misleading ?
  To add insult to injury in explaining her decision defending the schools request for more local money Supv. Stone said: ” I believe we should add back these positions since we don’t know that down the road their may be effects of being understaffed” or words to that effect.
  Now stop for one minute and weigh this logic carefully. We have documented evidence of over staffing, we have the Superintendent himself stating publicly that the schools test scores and achievement on standardized tests had been stellar ( with a reduced staff )……. yet Supervisor Stone approves additional hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenditures on ” maybe” ?
  I have argued for several years now, and this is actual evidence supporting my position that elevating former school board members to the Board Of Supervisors is a mistake, and this example amply demonstrates that. After a term or two on the school board the apparent affinity they have for the schools is simply too colored to objectively weigh appropriate funding levels. It flies in the face of reasoning that if Dr. Jones is carrying out the mission of educating our children with the current level of staffing, if we  the citizens who pay for this come forward with documented evidence that public school staffing has been a literal jobs program without actual merit for having added many of these positions,  then it is incumbent on elected officials to have much sounder reason before spending hundreds of thousands of additional tax dollars without cause, other than the aforementioned affinities.
  All of us want good Public Schools. That said the emotional blackmail  often used towards anyone who speaks out about waste and over-staffing  has gone on for far too long. Look at the student to staffing ratio in King William schools . It is preposterous. Schools and school budgets are not sacred cows, and it’s long overdue we stop acting as if they were.
Bob Shannon  Central Garage

About Tom White

Tom is a US Navy Veteran, owns an Insurance Agency and is currently an IT Manager for a Virginia Distributor. He has been published in American Thinker, currently writes for the Richmond Examiner as well as Virginia Right! Blog. Tom lives in Hanover County, Va and is involved in politics at every level and is a Recovering Republican who has finally had enough of the War on Conservatives in progress with the Leadership of the GOP on a National Level.

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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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