Letter to the Editor: Board separated budgets in 2013

Editor:

The Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors allocates money to the School Board.  The School Board spends this money using its own set of priorities.  I refer to the Northern Virginia Daily’s own reporting.  The article, titled “Shenandoah County: School board presents priorities,” dated Oct. 22, 2012, can still be accessed on the Northern Virginia Daily’s website by typing the entire title I just provided.

During a joint supervisors and School Board meeting in October 2012, a supervisor asked Dr. Rowland what kind of funds had been available for the school system’s capital improvement plan (CIP) over the past three years. Dr. Rowland said, “We haven’t had one, it has been five years since the county’s schools had money for an actual capital improvements plan.”

That revelation changed the way the supervisors  gave money to the schools.  Let me explain.  Up until 2013, the School Board was given a “blank check” from the supervisors for its budget. In other words, the supervisors did not separate the   CIP funding from the operational budget.  So the School Board and superintendent were responsible for setting priories.  Subsequent news articles in 2012 revealed a $9 million dollar backlog of CIP needs – most paramount were roofs and boilers for the schools.  

In 2013, the supervisors separated operational and CIP budgets.  The total dollar amount for the CIP budget has gradually increased over the years.  According to the State Board of Education,  the local board may only make changes in the total amount allocated to the school board or in the amount allocated to each of the eight categories.  

I expressed years ago my desire for allocating school funding per categories.  If the School Board is not going to hold the superintendent responsible for how these dollars are prioritized, then the county Board of Supervisors has the authority to do so.  Supervisor Helsley confirmed the events leading up to CIP and operational budget separation at the end of our work session on March 9.  Meeting audio is available on the Shenandoah County website.

Cindy Bailey, District 4
Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors