Anything to get re-elected
Anything to get re-elected

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.

31 Thoughts to “School Board Dissatisfied with the 4 Horsemen of the BOCS”

  1. Lafayette

    Ahh…the Four Horsemen. Bob Wills is the man to recount that ugly page of county history. I believe there are a few others that have been around long enough to remember too. Maureen Caddigan and John Jenkins are the only two Supervisors that have been around long enough to remember. The Four Horsemen do still get brought up from time to time to this very day, and that’s been almost forty years ago.

  2. Do you think that Jenkins or Caddigan would be willing to reveal that?

    Were the 4 horsemen supervisors or SB? I seem to recall them being SB.

    Where is Bob Wills? No one has seen him.

  3. Are you saying the other guys are johnny come latelies? snicker.

  4. Alanna

    I watched the school board meeting and was pleased with Milt Johns response to Grant Lattin’s resolution. The school board needs to get more information together and go back the BOS for funding. I feel confident that at a minimum the BOS will allow the use of the $1 million for the reduction in class sizes this year.

  5. Elena

    I hope you are right Alanna. I hope they don’t dig their heels in at the expense of children. All we ask is that there be a process to learn the facts and THEN make a decision about funds.

  6. I hope you are right Alanna. I need to watch that meeting. I just haven’t had time.

    Hopefully the BOCS Horsemen will recind their own resolution and allow some of the funding to go through.

    I have been totally surprised at the overall negative attitude towards education in this county.

  7. George S. Harris

    We don’t need no edimicashun–we got jobs on the BOCS. I don’t know how these folks keep getting elected. Forrest Gump again–Stupid is as stupid does.

  8. Big Dog

    Memory says the Four Horsemen were PW Supers in the late 1960’s
    who banded together to run the governing body — Chuck Colgan,
    while not one of the FH did serve with them on the BOCS. This was,
    of course, prior to Big John (appointed 1984) and later Maureen.

    You are a PWC oldtimer if you can:
    – Name the Four Horsemen
    – Name the Three B’s
    – ID who “sang” in Gnatt – King – Cole and their elected office
    – The two high school teams that are/were “Yellowjackets”.

  9. Thanks Big Dog, I was really hoping you would know. I think the 6 horsemen showed up during the 70’s. Otherwise I would not know of them.

    Let’s see…I cant name the horsemen. However there was a Doggett man around that time.

    The 3 B’s: Bagley, Brickley, Bell?

    Cole: Bob Cole (D)? Gainesville Supervisors King another supervisor.

    yellowjackets: Osbourn Park Osbourn was and still is the flying eagles.

    CANT THink of anyone but Georgia Tech.

  10. anona

    Ralph Mauller (’72-’75) Brentsville
    Chuck Colgan (’72-’75) Gainesville
    Roy Doggett (’72-’75) Manassas
    Don Turner (’72-’75) Neabsco
    Winfred Scott (’68-’75) Coles
    Dr. Ferlazzo (’56-’74) Woodbridge
    Vern Dawson (’72-’75) Occoquan

    I always thought the four horsemen were 4 of the group elected in 1972, but I don’t know which were the four. The story my inlaws told was that most of the board had been in since the late ’50’s and the public had gotten fed up with their wheeling and dealing to benefit themselves, so most of them got thrown out in ’72 and a new crowd got voted in with the exception of Woodbridge and Coles.

    The new guys shook things up and at one point there was even a fist fight at the board meeting which had to be continued in the parking lot. One of the stories is that the new guys actually changed the locks and locked the county executive out of the building, then fired him.

    So I guess what goes on now is very tame in comparison. Too bad they didn’t videotape the meetings back then. That would be something to watch.

  11. anona

    I think back then Dr. Ferlazzo was the Dumfries supervisor, which later split into Woodbridge and Dumfries.

  12. Thanks Anona! Talk about a journey back to the past. I think the 4 horsemen were Mauller, Doggett, Turner and Dawson for some reason. Chuck was always a good guy and very supportive of education.

    My mind is fuzzy about who was SB and who was BOCS. One of them had a 5th grade education and was real proud of it.

    Who replaced all of those guys in 75 and why was there such a purge?

    I remember hearing about the fist fight. Locked the county executive out!!! Bwaahahahaha

    Too funny. Now who was the school board guy for Gainesville who drove the red car that ruled from on high? (I think Gainesville–not positive)

  13. Big Dog

    – Do remember that Colgan was one of the “good guys” on the BOCS –
    which no doubt helped him win a seat in the Virginia Senate.

    – Osbourn HS in Manassas was home of the Yellow Jackets for decades
    before it was closed by PWC and became part of the new Osbourn Park
    in the mid-1970’s. Manassas -and MP – opted to become cities with their
    own school systems soon after and the original Osbourn was restored
    by Manassas, but PWC refused to give back the trophies, theYellow Jacket
    name and a large portrait of Eugenia Osbourn (or even let the city copy it)
    – 35 years later and some Manassas oldtimers are still upset and
    PWC still has a “misplaced” HS with distorted attendence boundaries.
    (Stonewall and OHS were built near the same time as “twins” according
    to newspapers of the period).

    M-H, you get an “A’ in local history for remembering the three B’s.
    I’ll try and do more research on the Four Horsemen next week.

    Cole and King were former Sups (a road at the Manassas Campus at JMU is
    named for Mr. King). Remember Cole’s first meeting when he voted
    “aye” for the “consent agenda” even as he intended to vote “nay” on several
    items on it. After the meeting, he said he thought he was voting his consent
    to have an agenda – not on specific items. Charlie Gnatt was a long time
    clerk of the court in PWC.

  14. Big Dog

    Roy Doggett was a hard-nosed Manassas Town Councilman before he
    became a PWC Supervisor — stories are that he wasn’t above
    settling disputes with his fist after a meeting. Roy’s way or
    you became part of the highway.

  15. anona

    As far as why they all left in 1975, I found this in the Reliquary:

    “In response to a court order requiring them to do so, the BOCS adopted a new redistricting plan on June 12, 1975. The adopted plan, a modification of a proposal submitted by Dumfries District supervisor Andrew Donnelly (appointed to fill unexpired term of Dr. Ferlazzo after his resignation in July ’74), contained seven magisterial districts, two in western Prince William and five in populous eastern Prince William County. The name Manassas District was dropped and a new district named “Woodbridge” was incorporated in the plan. As a result of a contractual agreement between Prince William County and the new city of Manassas, the Manassas Magisterial District was represented by a county supervisor through December 31, 1975. Manassas and Manassas Park became separate cities prior to June 1, 1975.

    It also said Kathleen Seefeldt (Occoquan 1976-91) was the first Chairman at large creating the 8th seat in 1991.

  16. Wow, you all know your history! I had forgotten a lot of this.

    Big Dog, I should have known Charlie Gnatt. I knew his grandson, I believe. And I did get Bob Cole right. I don’t remember him voting the wrong way but I am sure he laughed at himself as hard as anyone else. He is still in the area, I believe.

  17. I am not sure I was right about who the 4 horsemen were. Let us know what you find out, Big Dog. I just remember they were very anti school and I know Chuck wasn’t one of them because he was always a big supporter of education and the education community, even to this day.

  18. Lafayette

    As fellow Manassas historian myself. I must correct the spelling of Clerk of the Court Charlton E. Gnadt.

    Big Dog,
    My mom is ’55 graduate of Osbourn and was a Yellow Jacket, not an Eagle. To this very day if you want to get her fired up, one only has to mention those trophies that are at OP. It’s absolutely ridiculous that those tropies are not at the high school that earned them.

  19. You are absolutely right about the spelling. That threw me off. Something didn’t look right but there are times I can’t spell c-a-t.

    I lied about the eagle…unintentionally. I was thinking of something else.

    I don’t think Osbourn was ever an eagle, was it?

    I think the trophys should be at old osbourn also. They sort of go with the building. kids come and go. Buildings are the permanent structure. Or hell, at least split them.

  20. Lafayette

    OP got the mascot name Yellow Jackets along with the trophies. Osbourn got a new mascot and that was the eagles. What a tee total rip off to the Alumni of Osbourn before the long labored birth of OP.

  21. Big Dog

    Thanks for the correction Lafayette.

    M-H, there are times I can’t spell k-a-t. (One of the things I like about
    Google is “did you mean?”. And of course, spel check.

    History footnote – A proclamation in 1926 by the PW BOCS links
    two Osbourns to the school. It reads that the school was “named
    as an appreciation for a lifetime of service rendered by Miss Eugenia
    Osbourn and her sister Mrs. Fannie Osbourn Metz.” Eugenia taught
    over fourty years in Manassas and is considered one of the key figures
    in the history of local education. Her sister Fannie, said to also be
    a gifted teacher, had a much shorter tenure. She created a
    scandal in 1898 when she married Murray Metz, a student thirty years
    her junior. Metz was the brother of Grace Metz, for whom the city’s
    middle school is named. A section of “Echoes of Manassas”, a local
    history book offered in the Manassas Museum gift shop, has more on
    this topic.

  22. Big Dog, if incorrect spelling is a sin, then we will all end up some place a little too warm. There are days I cannot spell c-a-t.

    That is scandalous!! Sort of brings a new definition to ‘couger.’ I guess that did set the town reeling.

    Grace Metz, eh?

  23. Big Dog, you sure are a wealth of information. Do you get a lot of it from the museum?

  24. Big Dog

    Echoes, the Manassas Museum, has several good books on Manassas history,
    including the recently published “Manassas Mosaic”. Anyone know
    of a good book about PWC history over the last fifty years? The only
    way I know to research it is reading balky microfilm of old local
    newspapers at Bull Run. The library is short on $ (surprise) so there
    are no funds to buy new microfilm readers and the few old ones
    left are often broken.

  25. Microfilm is so hard to use. Stupid question here….is stuff still put on microfilm or is it just scanned and computerized? Why cant all that microfilm stuff be digitized and put on a hard drive somewhere?

    Who are some of the old county people who know the oral history? How about someone like Zella Cornwell? There should be a group of oral historians–those people I call the Old Guard.

  26. Big Dog

    There are a half dozen books that have been written about Manassas
    events over the last fifty years, but, to my knowledge, none about PWC.
    Not just an official version, but the day to day life of the area – good and bad.

    – Who were the “Four Horsemen” on the BOCS and how did they get that name?

    – What was the story behind the Woodbridge bar that featured
    almost nude young male dancers (no guys allowed as customers) that
    attracted carloads of women from miles around? (The MJM wrote
    an editorial in favor of the establishment – “Girls just want to have fun”).
    Of course, at the time Rt.#1 had a half dozen “girly show bars” for guys.

    – Story Book Land on Jeff Davis Hwy.?

    – The list is endless –

    And agree M-H, too bad the old local papers aren’t computerized.
    Lack of money apparently is the roadblock.

  27. ejben

    The 4 Horsemen were Turner from Woodbridge,Mauller,Doggett,Dawson and it probably was 1972.There was one who only had a 5th grade education and it must have been Doggett, who was Dumfries.Then Dumfries moved the boundry a little south at Cherry Hill,putting the one side in Woodbridge.Along came Barg and 5th grade education. Dumfries was not going to have another 5th grader.
    Alice Humpfries was Woodbridge Supervisor,either just before Turner or right after,as then Don Kidwell got elected.
    Those 4 guys voted against everything.They raised H___, with the school board and the citizens were mad,mad.
    I never thought any of them had an education as they were complete jerks.They really seemed to enjoy being such no nothings. But some how the County survived.We got a lot of laughs out of watching them. Many people went to the meetings as that was the entertainment for the week.
    Sure don’t miss those days with that type as Supervisors.

  28. ejben

    For your information,in case you do care.I have done some research on the time lines.
    President signed 1586 into Law Aug.10th
    Dept of Education sent notice to all Superintendents on Aug.11th.
    Another notice with more information sent to all Superintendents and he in turn notified the School Board onAug. 13th.
    I don’t have the exact date Superintendent talked to County Executive?
    Aug. 24th Board of Supervisors called a Special Meeting.
    Aug. 27th at 3:05 pm, the tables were set up with application forms and contracts and there was buzzing going on in that room.With people filling out papers.
    Sept. 1st School Board had meeting.
    All the time no one in charge was available except some school board members for the
    Aug.24 th meeting.
    But there were too many excuses and misinformation put out by members at that 24th meeting.
    By the 1st, many were not sure exactly where they were, as they was covering for the Head guy and probably should not have gone this far.
    Just about all of this is in the Dept. of Education Web site.

  29. People were on vacation. All Mr. Johns asked was to postpone decision making. The BOCS refused to honor his request. They are playing politics.

    I don’t believe anyone was given a contract, much less was signing one. That isn’t how contracts are handled. You don’t have application forms and contracts. I don’t know where this came from but it must be some other Prince William County.

    No one should be blaming the school board for not showing up to some other political body’s meeting. No notice. Other plans. They don’t serve at the behest of the supervisors any more. And they don’t have to make excuses. Where were 3 of the supervisors? They had other plans. Short notice.

  30. @ejben, comments will be in moderation and released on a case by case basis.

  31. More on Education Jobs fund at the Virginia Dept. of Education website:

    I think Arnie Duncan sent his notice on the 11th to state superintendents, not each jurisdiction super.

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