Sunday, June 10, 2007

School Board Lawsuit -- its not about trailers, it's about Power

When I wrote about the "Brentsville Trailer" issue, and the School Board's absurd lawsuit, I pointed out that the suit wasn't really about getting a few trailers, but was much more. (See post "School Board Lawsuit -- it's not just about the trailers")

The news media has finally caught up with the truth to the lawsuits. The Washington Post Prince William Extra, Sunday June 10, 2007, reports School Board Seeks More Autonomy With Suit, with a subtitle of "Involvement of County Supervisors, Planning Commission in Decision Making Seen as Intrusive".

Well, given the absurd lack of planning that went into asking for 7 MORE trailers at a school with 6 trailers and no extra bathroom facilities, I have to say I don't really care that the School board thinks review and oversite is "intrusive", it is absolutely necessary, especially with the current leadership.

Here's what the Post has to say:

First, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors began asking tough questions about the school system's expensive plans for all-day kindergarten at every elementary school and a new administrative building.

Then, Planning Commission member Ronald K. Burgess starting making inquiries into the number of toilets -- "commodes," as he put it -- at Brentsville District High School in Nokesville as one measure of crowding.

So the media has finally figured out what this is all about. The School board simply doesn't like to have to answer to the people or their elected officials. While in fact this contention has been brewing for a long time, it certainly came to a head when Corey Stewart took a strong leadership stance against tax increases.

The School Board wanted none of it, since they were counting on new money each year to fund all their pet projects like all-day-care/kindergarten, and their lovely new administration building. This led them to, at one point, assert that adding hours to kindergarten (something that has limited benefits) was more important than giving the teachers the raise the Board had previously said was all-important, and had promised them.

The Board lucked out when the supervisors decided not to cut taxes quite so much, which along with some miraculous "savings" the school system came up with only days after claiming they had done all they could do, allowed them to do everything they wanted and put off the hard decisions to another day.

But it's clear the Board would rather be able to just ask the county for money, without having to explain itself. They'd love for the supervisors to take the blame for tax increases while the School Board takes "credit" for spending the money on "children" (who btw won't be using the multi-million dollar administration building for classrooms, but will instead be stuck in trailers and using toilets in the outdoor stadium facilities).

So even though the Board got their trailers, they are still wasting our money on a lawsuit trying to make it so they don't have to answer questions about the stupid things they are doing again.

One can only hope that, when Milt Johns takes over for Lucy after the November election, that the School Board can behave better and appreciate the help and direction of our elected leaders. I'm encouraged by some of the proposals Milt has made to address some of the concerns, although I am also dissappointed in his vote to pursue this lawsuit.


Citizen Tom said...

I agree the reason for the lawsuit is power. When we are talking about politicians, is that not almost always the case?

Where we differ is that I am not especially concerned that the School Board is answerable to the BOCS via the Planning Commission.
What I am concerned about is that because these silly people have gone to court, we are suing ourselves (see my post).

Perhaps we need to reexamine the whole idea of an elected School Board. This coming November we each will be voting to fill ten elected offices. That is nuts! While I generally respect the people on the School Board, the BOCS could just as easily have a appointed people to do the same thing.

Charles said...

I like the elected school board. There are things that are strictly school matters, like curriculum, teacher/administration hiring/firing, school operating schedules, bus schedules, stuff like that. Having those decisions made by elected officials makes those officials beholden to the people, rather than politicians who give out appointments as political payback.

The reason school construction issues (and adding people to an overcrowded school with trailers is a construction issue) should be in the planning commission is that the PC has the expertise and the mandate for those types of decisions regardless of the use of a building.

The issue of using trailers to increase the capacity of a facility is the same whether it's a school building, a movie theatre, a mall, or an office building.