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Last updateThu, 19 Nov 2015 8pm

   20140901MetroCastweb

School Board gets $250K transfer

Textbook adoption not in 2010-2011 budget request
At last week’s meeting of the King George Board of Supervisors, one topic was a request by the School Board to transfer $250,000 from Operation & Maintenance to Instruction.
Chairman Dale Sisson and Supervisor Joe Grzeika both pressed for answers about money matters, but most were deflected by two members of the School Board prior to Supervisor Cedell Brooks Jr. putting an end to the discussion by making a motion to approve the categorical transfer as requested by the School Board. The motion passed unanimously.
With Superintendent Candace Brown out of town, School Board Chairman Lynn Pardee and member Renee Parker had appeared at the podium to address questions by supervisors regarding the transfer request.
Pardee said the savings was realized from utilities due to more efficient systems at the new high school.

Grzeika wanted to know when it was realized there would be a savings in the utilities line item and how the money would be used in the Instruction category.
Pardee said the money would be used for new social studies textbooks for next school year, along with books for two new courses being added at the high school.
“The $250,000 is a savings that we have seen over the 12 months, Pardee said. “While you are correct, we can keep it in that category and continue to help Hunter Field, it would not help the textbooks and it would not help some other purchases. Now I know that your board has made several statements that you have never denied a transfer to us and we are asking you not to deny it tonight. While Hunter Field and sports are important, our purpose here is to educate those students. And it’s good to have current textbooks and if we are able to add classes for these students to better the chances of getting a job or get into college then that’s our duty and that’s why we are asking for the transfer.”
Sisson wanted it clarified that the School Board had money all along to maintain Hunter Field and to keep the high school clean though they complained they didn’t have enough funding in the current year for those issues when the two boards met together on April 6.
In fact, it appears to have been a choice by either Brown or the School Board, or both to neglect Hunter Field.
“We heard in our joint meeting that you didn’t have funding to maintain Hunter Field,” Sisson said. “You didn’t have money to maintain properly the new high school.  And so it was confusing to me when I saw there was a $250,000 surplus in the Operation & Maintenance category.”
He added, “So, I felt it important to have this conversation. I would agree procuring textbooks is a very important thing to do.  But what would be important to me also, was that the claims weren’t made as a follow-on that say you didn’t have money to do the maintenance on that field.  Because this is showing that it is there. That’s my point.”
Sisson said he would support the requested categorical transfer, also adding, “I’m pointing out the funding is there and make sure that you are covered and have the solution and the ability to maintain that field.”

COMPLAINTS ABOUT HAVING TO EXPLAIN    
Both Pardee and Parker complained about having to come to the meeting and explain the request.
“We are the ones who are supposed to control our money and make the decisions for our schools,” Pardee said. “So that’s why I find it so interesting that we’ve been asked to be here tonight.  We’ve made a decision to transfer some money and we are being second guessed upon it.”
Grzeika responded, saying they wanted to understand the reasons for the request.
“Because there’s a lot of things out here that we want to make sure, because what happens is, at the time of budgeting, all of this comes back later to haunt us, in that we didn’t do this or give you that,” Grzeika said. “And that is not always factually correct.”
Pardee said, “We don’t mind supplying you information.  We have an open-book policy and you are always welcome.  But in one second you are stating that we are in charge and we are in control and we make the decisions. Your next statement is questioning our decisions and what we are doing.”
Grzeika said, “Questioning the funding, the funding piece only.  How you make your decisions is not my business.  But the funding is.”
Pardee argued, “Part of how we are making our decisions right now is with the funding.”
Sisson reminded her: “The categorical funding is our responsibility.”
He said he wanted someone from the division to be present when the request for the transfer came to supervisors, adding,  “And the reason was that when we had our joint meeting there was discussion that you were concerned that you had sufficient Operation & Maintenance funds to upkeep the high school, the current high school. There were concerns that you had sufficient funds to maintain Hunter Field. So that was the only reason that I asked you to come and have this discussion.  It’s not second-guessing. It’s making sure we understand where you are at. Because that was what was reported to us and what we discussed during our joint work session. There was no ill motive.”
He also added, “This is a chance for the public to understand what we are doing as well.”
Parker pressed, saying, “I’m not sure I understand why communication between yourselves to Mr. Quesenberry to Dr. Brown and her answering that question is not sufficient communication.”
She added, “I don’t understand why it wouldn’t be effective for you to put the question to Mr. Quesenberry who would then put the question to Dr. Brown. She would answer the question about the $250,000, it would be finished and we wouldn’t be here tonight.”
Sisson explained, “It’s public business and I felt important to conduct it as public business. As chairman, I asked for a representative at the last meeting.  We were told no one was available.  And Renee, you were actually here. We could have done it that night, but we were told no representative was available. And I understand, you had your teacher of the year awards, a very important thing, going on.”

TEXT BOOKS NOT IN BUDGET    
It’s not clear why regular purchases of new textbooks adoptions would not be included in a school division budget in most years.
Adoptions of new textbooks for English, social studies, math, science and foreign languages are approved by the Virginia Board of Education at regular intervals to ensure that a ready source of textbooks are available to school divisions, who buy them directly from the publisher at prices contracted by the state.
Most state textbook adoptions are done on a 4-6 year cycle.
But, Brown had publicly stated that there is not money in next year’s 2010-11 budget to include the book purchase for a new adoption of social studies textbooks.
The School Board approved a categorical budget for 2010-11 at its last regular meeting.
Brown budgeted various amounts of money for textbooks, work books and instructional supplies throughout the Instruction category for 2010-11.
The following is a partial list of  amounts in the Instruction category:
$15,225 in Regular Education for textbooks at Potomac Elementary School (PES).
$15,225 in Regular Education for instructional materials at PES.
$6,308 in Library/Media for instructional materials at PES.
$29,365 in Regular Education for textbooks at King George Elementary School (KGES).
$29,365 in Regular Education for instructional materials at KGES.
$12,166 in Library/Media for instructional materials at KGES.
$30,905 in Regular Education for textbooks at Sealston  Elementary School (SES).

Phyllis Cook
Staff reporter

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