Many years ago, in Prince William County, there was a gang on either the BOCS or the appointed school board who were not-so-affectionately named the 4 horsemen. They were seen as enemies of the school system. It seems that the 4 horsemen have been reincarnated, after several decades, on our board of supervisors. I am trying to remember . Why they were named that? Was it a nice way of speaking of the educational Apocalypse on the horizon or was it short for horse body parts? Perhaps those readers who have been around PWC for a while will remember.
But I digress….
Wednesday night, after an hour and a half discussion, the school board voted to bring back the issue of stimulus funding at an undetermined date. At the special BOCS meeting Tuesday, August 24, School Board Chairman Milt Johns asked the 5 BOCS members present to please not make a permanent decision until all facts were in and the school board could make a presentation. His request was not honored and a resolution was passed to postpone discussion of stimulus funds until next year. At the school board meeting on September 1, Johns had the following reaction:
“It was almost irrational for them to pass a resolution before they’ve been briefed,” said Johns, who called the action “rash.”
According to the News and Messenger, regarding the September 1 school board meeting:
The decision to postpone action regarding the federal Education Jobs Funds was largely due to what the board considered insufficient data on both the funding formula and amount of money the county would receive from the state of Virginia.
Some board members also expressed hesitation to take action in light of the recent Board of County Supervisors’ resolution to not address stimulus money until the fiscal 2012 budget process. During a special meeting last week, supervisors [BOCS] criticized the perceived lack of communication from the schools regarding their decision to prepare for the hiring of 180 new teachers this year with potential stimulus money.
Even some board members stated their dissatisfaction with Superintendent Steven L. Walts’ decision to publicize the intent to hire new teachers before a formal presentation was made. Walts reacted to the board members’ comments by saying, “We did what we thought was appropriate in order to begin to get ready in the event these funds become available and both boards choose to utilize them.”
During Wednesday’s meeting, several board members said they would like to be able to use part of the funds — which could be as much as $15 million — in this fiscal year. That could potentially allow the schools to hire a small portion of the 180 teachers initially considered by Walts.
The earliest new teachers could get into the classrooms would be November 1. The Education stimulus funds can be used this year or by September of next year. Supposedly, there is a good chance the funds will be sustained. The state is in the process of applying for those funds.
Chairman Milt Johns expressed his dissatisfaction that his request to postpone decision- making until facts were in was ignored by the Board of Supervisors:
While the school board was unanimous in its decision to re-visit the issue, several members publicly expressed dissatisfaction with the supervisors’ resolution. During the special meeting in August, school board chairman-at-large Milton C. Johns asked the supervisors not to make a decision until a representative from the schools could give them a presentation.
On Wednesday, he re-iterated that stance. [quote above]
Mr. Johns was right. The BOCS did act irrationally. Why make decisions when you don’t have all the facts?
That seems to be a real bad habit of this board recently, starting with the screw job they gave Eric Finley and his asphalt plant (after encouraging the gentleman) and a week later encouraging youngsters to join the political process in hopes of acquiring some little league football fields. The real object was to push through a huge development called Avendale, which will be in the Rural Crescent. Decisions made by the BOCS seem to be getting more and more capricious and inconsistent. This indicated election time is upon us.
Thank goodness the school board is now an independent body and they can act responsibly regarding education without worrying about the supervisor who appointed them. They are trying to do the right thing by finding out as much as possible about grant money that could offset our educational costs as taxpayers and relieve some of the horrible classroom overcrowding our kids will face this year.
The 4 Horsemen who quickly voted to end all discussion until next year did act irresponsibly and irrationally. They must want to be able to tell their constituents that they voted against spending. It seemed to be all a political gesture. No other reason.
Finding out facts, even if you have to postpone decision-making is never a bad thing. Hopefully the parents will take one look at class size this year and kick the 4 horsemen squarely in the part just behind the rider.