By. Brent Wilson, Greene County Field Officer
Back on May 8th, the Greene County Board of Supervisors faced a very vocal meeting about the funding for the school system. After that meeting, the Greene County School Board again promised to be more open and transparent with the Board of Supervisors regarding issues going forward.
The paradigm in Virginia is different than other states as both the School Board and the Board of Supervisors are elected by voters. The Board of Supervisors has the ability to tax (the School Board does not); the Board of Supervisors allocates tax revenue for schools but can not dictate how it is spent. This structure tends to generate friction between the Board of Supervisors and the School Board in localities across the state.
As a part of their new communication strategy, on September 11th School Board Chair Michelle Flynn provided the Board of Supervisors a comprehensive review including a budget update, energy consumption, and news from Richmond (funding and education). All schools are fully accredited. There have been changes in personnel but there is no increase in staffing in total.
Greene County Schools Superintendent Dr. David Jeck reviewed the school facilities project for the athletic facilities. 95% of the work is complete with two areas needing to be finished – landscaping and a punch list of items. The contractor has defaulted and the school system is now dealing with the insurance company. The low bid general contractor underbid the project and that caused subcontractors to go unpaid. There was a completion bond required under the contract and the bond provides for all of the contracted work to be completed to the satisfaction of the Clerk of the Works to ensure that work is done in compliance to the contract. The baseball and softball fields along with the track are all certified by the Virginia High School League (VHSL) and the facility is now qualified to host district and regional play.
School Board member Troy Harlow covered the upgrades in communication with the community in the past four years. Both Dr. Jeck and the school system have a twitter page that are kept current. The school system uses an automated calling system to ensure information to passed on to parents and teachers. The most recent upgrade is Power School which allows parents to access their child’s academic record in real time.
Further community dialog is promised in the future. The School Board plans to hold two community budget meetings to outline the needs of the school system. In addition, a Growth and Facilities Study hopes to be undertaken this year to keep a look to the future needs of the school system.
The Board of Supervisors responded favorably to the presentation. The only question was related to the state not providing funding for the 20 – 25 special education students. The school system receives federal funding instead of state funding for these students.
Ironically, prior to the School Board presentation, Mr. David Blount, Legislative Liaison at TJPDC addressed the Board of Supervisors. The Board Of Supervisors actually had feedback for Mr. Blount. Jim Frydl took exception to the state claiming to fully funding education when a large portion of the increase was taken back to help with VRS funding. Chairman Buggs Peyton asked Mr. Blount to take the message to Richmond to not send any more unfunded mandates.
So while the local elected officials are working to try to communicate better, they may have a shared enemy in the local funding shortfalls legislatively created by elected officials in the statehouse in Richmond.
Brent Wilson is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization.
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