It’s that time of year again. The days are longer, hardy daffodils emerge from the ground and Goochland’s school administration is girding for battle with the Board of Supervisors over next year’s budget.
For the past few years, the supervisors have requested the schools to prepare proposed budgets based on expected revenues. Instead, the schools demand more money than is available giving little justification for the increase. Each time the supervisors ask for line item salary information about all school employees, especially those in the central office, they get vague response and all salaries lumped into one line item.
At budget time, the school board and Superintendent Dr. Linda Underwood become combative. What should be a reasonable discussion turns ugly.
In recent years, the schools have manipulated parents to harass the supervisors into increasing school funding. Parents are told that if the school budget is cut, their children will suffer. Believing that their children’s education is at risk, the parents fall into line. It’s hard to fault their concern.
For example, the follow email was circulated among parents and teachers on February 25, 2011.
“The agenda packet for the Board of Supervisors meeting for Tuesday has been posted.
The proposed school budget is $1.425 million less than the School Board requested. Working from the PowerPoint slides in the packet, I only see the bottom line, not the by-category recommendation.
The $1.425 million consists (roughly) of the $693,000 reduction requested by the county at the beginning of the process, the $444,000 VRS increase, and the increases requested to restore 2 furlough days and the math specialist.
I usually have plans b, c, and d in my back pocket. Many of you have heard me say that I just don't have those plans in this case. The only place we have left to go is (again) positions to make up that kind of shortfall. We will certainly have to look at some of the possibilities rejected earlier in the budget planning process in order to perhaps reduce the number of positions we will be forced to eliminate.
The Board of Supervisors may set the tax rate at the Tuesday meeting. That means that it will be too late to do anything about revenues after that date. If anyone wants the supervisors to hear his/her opinion on school funding or the tax rate, Tuesday could be the last chance.
If you need to forward this email, feel free.
Thank you -Linda
Linda A. Underwood, Ed.D.
Goochland County Public Schools”
This tactic is very reminiscent of psychological warfare, sometimes referred to as psy ops.
Wikipedia comment on this form of battle:
The U.S. Department of Defense defines psychological warfare as:
"The planned use of propaganda and other psychological actions having the primary purpose of influencing the opinions, emotions, attitudes, and behavior of hostile foreign groups in such a way as to support the achievement of national objectives.”
Underwood’s message contains at least one piece of information that is false.
The supervisors will not and cannot set the tax rate on March 1. The tax rate will be voted on by the supervisors at their April 5 meeting. A public hearing on the county budget, which includes school funding, will be held on March 29 at 7 p.m. In past years the rate and budget allocations have been changed, literally, at the last minute.
In an ironic twist Underwood complains that the county budget does not contain by item budget recommendations, something that she and her stooges on the school board have refused to supply to the supervisors for years.
The proposed county budget is upfront on its website www.co.goochland.va.us. The proposed school budget may be lurking somewhere on the school system’s website www.glndk12.va.us but it’s not readily accessible. How is that transparent operation?
As Goochland County prepares to enter yet another fiscal year with declining revenues the attitude of school administration is troubling. Public education is a worthy expenditure of tax dollars. However, there must be a high level of trust that those funds are well and wisely spent. The lack of transparency in the school budget, especially in difficult economic climates, does nothing to dispel concerns that the money is not going where it is needed the most.
We all need to remember this nonsense at the polls in November.