School board emulates Congress
At its January 26 meeting the Goochland School Board voted unanimously to recommend approval of a proposed budget present by Dr. Linda Underwood, superintendent of schools.
This action was a nasty slap in the face to the Goochland Parents Education Association (GEPA)whose suggested alternatives to cutting teaching positions was ignored.(See their budget proposal at goochlandparents.blogspot.com)
Reportedly comments at the school board meeting characterized GEPA as bad little boys and girls who would be sent to bed without supper after throwing a tantrum.
The budget approved by the school board retains all of the high dollar administrative folk that have come on board since Underwood took over at the start of the 2007-08 school year while eliminating teachers. (See this budget at the school website www.glnd.k12.va.us) It’s still about $1 million more than projected tax revenues. The annual Goochland school budget is typically a bit more than all of the real estate taxes collected.
Although the school board’s action is no surprise, it signals a return to the “good old boy business as usual” method of operations used by Goochland for many decades.
Emulating other school boards in the region, Goochland’s “fab five” urged parents to demand that the board of supervisors increase the real estate tax rates to generate at least the amount of revenue realized last year.
On January 19 County Administrator Rebecca T. Dickson made a presentation to the supervisors of the revenue generated by the current 53 cents per $100 of assessed valuation that has been in place for several years. (To view this excellent summary of the county’s fiscal condition, go to www.co.goochland.va.us and click on supervisors and January 19 packet. This is a somewhat large pdf file, so download on a hi speed connection is recommended.)
The school board’s reaction to the GEPA budget and general comments made by parents questioning budget items mirrors the posture taken by Congressional leaders to those who question the health care reform legislation. They are in charge, they know what’s best and they will do as they please. Don’t bother them with pesky facts and reasonable questions.
Underwood will present her budget to the supervisors next Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in the board meeting room. It will be interesting to see if the supervisors cave in to school demands as they have done in past years, or hold the line.
With all of the specific questions about the school budget that have been raised by parents and ignored by school administration it is hard to see how the supervisors will be able to justify raising the tax rate to fund more smoke and mirrors.
We have gone beyond the point where the school system can show up each year waving standardized test reports and demand a blank check from the taxpayers because it did a good job. This is definitely a situation when the maxim “never trust anyone who says trust me” applies.
Having elected school boards that lack the power to levy taxes paves the way for this kind of total abdication of fiscal responsibility. If the school board had to justify its expenditures to every taxpayer at the ballot box, it would be singing a different tune.
That argument is for another day.
It’s hard to see how parents can be motivated to support a tax increase to fund a budget that they have found seriously flawed. We all want good schools, but we’re still wondering how retaining expensive administrators while eliminating teachers makes sense.