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School board takes aim at commissioners

During their Dec. 6 meeting, Board of Education members didn’t hesitate to discuss their disappointment in recent actions of the Washington County Commission.
“A lot of negative things have been said about the Board of Education and the director,” Vice Chair Chad Williams said. “They talk about our arrogance, but I don’t see it that way.”
Noting that communication is a two-way street, Williams said it was inexcusable of county commissioners to stand up during their Nov. 26 meeting and criticize the school board’s actions.
He also is unhappy with the board’s perception in the media.
“We’re being portrayed that we are wasting taxpayers’ money, and I don’t appreciate it,” he said.
Jack Leonard said he is frustrated that he and fellow school board members are unable to provide students with proper facilities and services due to a lack of support from commissioners.
“The county commission should be there to back us, not question us, and I’m getting very tired of it,” he said. “We shouldn’t have to worry about what will be in the (newspaper) the next day.”
David Hammond argued that the schools budget created by the board and education staff is one of need, not luxury.
“I don’t think it’s all commissioners, I think it’s a handful, and I would challenge them to work with us,” he said.
Director of Schools Ron Dykes said the commission is well aware of the refurbishing needs at Boones Creek Elementary, Jonesborough Elementary and Boones Creek Middle schools.
The actions of the county Budget Committee are what Mary Lo Silvers finds hard to believe.
She passed around lists of the Budget Committee members, saying she plans to call each one to express her feelings of disappointment.
“I also plan to call other supporters of education who can be there to stand up for education when we are being cut down,” she said. “We need people on the commission who support education.”
Todd Ganger agreed.
“We do need some commissioners to stand up,” he said. “They say they support education, but sit there and don’t say anything while we take a beating.”
When he was elected to the school board four years ago, Ganger said one of the goals was to make more information available to the commission, which he believes Dykes has done.
“But it doesn’t matter because they’re not listening anyway,” Ganger said.
Board of Education Chair Clarence Mabe said he, too, attended the Nov. 26 meeting and was disappointed in some of the commissioners.
“We have some who are for education, but some are very rude,” he said.
But Mabe reminded school board members they have to take the bad with the good.
“We got our budget the last two years, and I don’t remember that before,” he said. “We also got 2 cents (in a tax levy) this year.”
During their August meeting, commissioners approved the 2012-2013 school system budget and a tax levy reallocation of 4 cents from the county’s General Fund.
The reallocation will equal a $640,000 increase of revenue to the county school system each year.
The shared revenue requirement will provide $523,000 to the Johnson City School System, for an increase of more than $1 million to education during 2013.
In addition to the General Purpose School Fund, the reallocation will provide extra dollars to the Road Upkeep Fund, the Debt Service Fund and Sanitation.
No comments regarding the county commission’s support of education were offered from school board members William Brinkley, Keith Ervin and Phillip McLain.