Letter to the Editor: School system is prudent with its funds


I’m writing in response to Cindy Bailey’s letter on April 22 in which she attempts to create a false dichotomy about school spending, cherry picks irrelevant statistics in an attempt to bolster her argument, and unfairly accuses the school system of poor management.

Approximately 85 percent of the requested increase in funds for next school year was for instruction, but only 27 percent of the requested amount was allocated by the Board of Supervisors. Ms. Bailey’s attempt to pit teacher compensation against student programs ignores the fact that high quality student programs require high quality teachers. You cannot separate the two because both are essential for instruction. Without full funding, important student programs in the budget will need to be culled or deferred.

If Shenandoah County’s rate of increase for starting teacher pay over the last five years is near the top for the area, it only speaks to how far behind we were during that time. A more appropriate comparison to use would be absolute salaries, which shows Shenandoah County still lags behind the median for surrounding counties at several places along the salary scale, including starting teacher pay.

Ms. Bailey is in no position to accuse the school system of mismanagement of funds. She has spurned several invitations to visit the schools and become more familiar with the day to day operations. The vast majority of the school system expenditures go toward instruction. In 2013 and 2014, 76 percent of the schools’ spending went toward instruction.
Instruction includes classroom materials and compensation for the professionals who spend seven hours a day with our children creating lesson plans, teaching content, and implementing programs. We must expand and improve instructional programs for our children to succeed. The school system is and has been prudent with the funds it receives.

We encourage Ms. Bailey to visit the schools, and take a positive role in improving the quality of the life in Shenandoah County rather than wallowing in the complacency of mediocrity.

Seth Coffman, Edinburg
Parents’ Alliance for Strong Schools