OPINION / Sheriff of Nottingham: School Board vs BOCS: Let’s Get On The Same Page
by The Sheriff of Nottingham
in Prince William County
When you are asking for something big, it is really important to be on the same page.
The Sheriff asks Mrs. Sheriff for a kitchen pass several weeks ago for the purpose of helping out a friend who was having some personal difficulties.
This was basically true.
The personal difficulties my friend was having involved personal struggles with his chipping game. The Sheriff was most willing to help iron out those difficulties during a competitive round on the links.
Truth be told, The Sheriff was looking to rake in a few shekels from my friend before offering any advice to my good friend.
But this all came to naught when my friend called The Sheriff’s home and conversed with Mrs. Sheriff about whether I could accommodate a change in the tee time for that Saturday.
It goes without saying, Mrs. Sheriff was not amused.
And my friend and The Sheriff should have been on the same page.
So it seems with the proposal from School Board Chairman Milt Johns to the BOCS to include their annual tin-cup rattling “2013 Legislative Priorities for the BOCS Education Statement.”
Why, it seems to The Sheriff the School Board is not only not on the same page as the BOCS, but perhaps not even reading from the same book.
Chairman Johns wants the BOCS to tell the Commonwealth’s Legislature that the PWC School Board is in dire financial straits because of the sinking economic conditions. Why, pray tell, there are many data points that support this argument from the School Board:
- The number of economically disadvantaged students continues to increase. Overall, ONE-THIRD OF THE STUDENTS IN PWCS ARE ECONOMICALLY DISADVANTAGED AND ELIGIBLE FOR FREE OR REDUCED LUNCHES.
- Since 2008, the number of students in PWCS classified as Limited English Proficient (LEP) has increased 15 percent.
Did Chairman Johns not tune in to listen to the bright economic news that PWC Finance Director David Solomon presented to the BOCS as the foundation for Dom Peacor’s aggressive tax increase plan?
Did Chairman Johns not hear the highly trumpeted announcement by Chairman Stewart that PWC is now in the elite class of the highest income residents in the Universe?
Did Chairman Johns completely miss the glowing conclusions from Dom Peacor about how the economy really has turned the corner in PWC and Happy Days Are Here Again to jack up taxes?
These four people really do need to get on the same page lest the commoners lose faith in the truthfulness of their arguments.
But wait, The Sheriff knows the commoners can smell BS when they hear it. (That is an odd phrase, isn’t it?)
Chairman Johns then laid out the set of demands for funding, and the warning that the PWCS does not want anyone interfering or poking around in their business once all the money is dumped in the PWCS bank account.
Here are the money demands:
- The Commonwealth (aka, taxpayers) should continue funding for implementing the Standards of Quality (SOQ) at appropriate levels (including realistic, adequate funding for support staff AND restoration of the inflation factor on on-personnel expediters) and/or suspension of SOQ mandates to allow school divisions to save money.
- The Commonwealth (aka, taxpayers) provide continued funding for annual teacher salary increases and Cost-of-Competing Allocation (COCA) for Region 4 school divisions for both teachers and support staff.
- The Commonwealth (aka, taxpayers) provide continued annual funding to PWCS to coordinate the statewide implementation of Virginia STAR, which provides free, refurbished computers to students and schools in need to technology.
- The Commonwealth (aka, taxpayers) provide the necessary funding to pay for the additional days, (including the employer share of Virginia Retirement System funding) should the 200-day teacher contract that was part of proposed 2012 legislation become a reality.
And here are the statements of support or opposition to various accountability for the Commonwealth (aka, taxpayers) funding given to PWCS:
- If bills should reappear from proposed 2012 legislation, oppose any that too narrowly define the 65% instructional expenditure reporting requirement or make the percentage requirement mandatory.
- If bills should reappear from proposed 2012 legislation, oppose any that would require additional time per week for physical education due to the financial impact and effect it would have on the length of the school day.
- Oppose bills, if introduced, which would divest or limit the school boards of their authority over the formation and operation of charter schools within their divisions.
- Oppose any bills, if introduced, which would mandate additional statewide disciplinary procedures that would inhibit school administrators in circumstances where immediate disciplinary intervention is required.
- Oppose any bills, if introduced, which would require funding to “follow the student” in situations in which the home school division offers a complete virtual school program but the student elects to enroll in one offered by another school division.
- Support bills, if introduced, which would give local school divisions more flexibility to implement policies to improve K-12 effectiveness and efficiency, such as repeal of the law the prevents school divisions from opening before Labor Day.
It would be unfair to blame Mr. Johns for all of this mischief, indeed this policy statement was reviewed and approved by the entire School Board.
The Sheriff does not pretend to think The Sheriff knows more about these issues than more informed commoners, but it clearly looks as though the disconnect in messaging between the BOCS and the PWCS opens a pretty wide door for critics to credibly argue that the BOCS and the PWCS are a bunch of tin-horn hypocrites that will dare to say blatantly contradictory economic messages without any fear of getting caught.
Well, the cat is out of the bag on that one.
Oops, this brings up a painful memory for Mrs. Sheriff about her Tabby that committed suicide by deliberately running in front of The Sheriff’s car as The Sheriff was backing out of the driveway.
The thought is equally painful for taxpayers who are about to get hosed from all sides.
Please, get on the same page. To continually speak with forked tongues is so embarrassing.
by The Sheriff of Nottingham
in Prince William County
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