Is the Shenandoah County School Board superfluous? I share with you the following observations for consideration by your readers.
I recently attended three public meetings called to order by the School Board to consider a budget in excess of $69 million. I was surprised by what I saw and heard.
First of all, only four of the six members were in attendance. I thought this was odd because the meetings are scheduled in advance and this should be among the most important business of the board; business that profoundly affects each and every taxpayer in Shenandoah County.
Second, the members seemed unprepared for the work session where they had an opportunity to question the superintendent regarding the proposed budget. One member even admitted that she had not had a chance to review the material.There were very few questions to Superintendent Johnston and the board seemed to be in full agreement with his plan.
Last, at the public hearing the room was sparsely filled. Most of the attendees appeared to be members of the school staff. Only three persons spoke on the budget; one other and me who were speaking for a reduced budget and the union representative who favored even a much larger raise than the proposed 3 percent. I doubt that the meeting lasted 20 minutes.
In my opinion, neither the board members, the public at large, or even the school staff itself have any real expectation that what is done in the school budget meetings will have any impact on the actual outcome. The School Board itself seems more than content to just endorse the work of the superintendent.
It appears to this writer, based on frequent attendance at both School Board and county Board of Supervisors meetings, that the real fiscal oversight has defaulted to the county Board of Supervisors.
Perhaps it is time to elect a School Board that will scrutinize the fiscal operations of our schools and not act to rubber stamp Superintendent Johnston’s budget. The School Board should not abdicate its responsibility for fiscal oversight to the county Board of Supervisors.
Dr. Stephen Curtis, DVM, Edinburg