The Prince William County Board of Supervisors is threatening to cancel a promised $1 million grant to help reduce class sizes in county schools if the school board won’t comply with their request to sign a formal agreement about how the money will be spent.
The school board signed such an agreement last year, but has so far declined to renew it, based in part on advice from their attorney that Virginia law does not permit county officials to dictate how school boards spend local tax dollars.
Still, the school board pledged in their recently approved budget to spend an extra $2 million to continue class-size reduction efforts they began last year. The money includes the promised $1 million grant from the county board as well as the required $1 million in school-division matching funds.
School Board Chairman Ryan Sawyers said Tuesday the school division is already spending the money to hire teachers for the coming school year.
Also, at the supervisors’ request, Prince William Superintendent Steven Walts sent a letter to the supervisors Tuesday reiterating the school board’s commitment to fulfill the terms of the grant.
“The school division, in the spirit of trust and cooperation, funded its $1 million on a recurring basis,” Walts wrote in a letter dated June 16. “Not only are the funds budgeted, but the school division has affirmed its commitment to the program by assuming the risk of authorizing the contracts necessary for applicable staffing to sustain the program in 2017.”
But apparently the “spirit of trust and cooperation” is not flowing both ways.