Friday, February 22, 2008

Imagine the BOCS in charge of all our schools!

School Board sends opinions to Richmond
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By CHERYL K. CHUMLEY

cchum...@potomacnews.com

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Of 30 education-related bills before the General Assembly for consideration, Prince William County School Board members have found one they seem to relegate to the category of detestable: House Joint Resolution 245.

The measure would amend the Virginia Constitution so that schools could be supervised by "a local governing body and locality's chief administrative officer," if the General Assembly enacted legislation toward that effect, according to the bill. In other words, laws could be passed giving the county supervisors and executive, say, authority to run the schools in place of the School Board and superintendent.

Board members voiced unanimous dissension for this bill via a written poll that's due for discussion at the Feb. 20 meeting at 6:30 p.m. The poll was aimed at gauging the support levels of each board member on the education bills awaiting decision in Richmond right now; the results will go to the school's legislative lobbyist. As of Jan. 18, HB245 -- which was introduced by Del. David Poisson, D-32nd and supported by Delegate Frank Hargrove Sr., R- 55th -- has sat in the Committee on Privileges and Elections, according to postings on the Virginia General Assembly's Web site. (See http://www.myinsidenova.com/insidenova/isn/news/local/article/school_board_sends_opinions_to_richmond/4732/for the rest of this article.)

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The horror! Let's, for a moment, put Corey Stewart in charge of the school budget. I know it's distasteful (especially first thing in the morning, so I want some kudos for even thinking about it before 8:00 a.m.), but imagine.

Parents would have to fight to get new schools to prevent overcrowding because in this "difficult budget year" which he and others did not plan for (but funded programs, paying for them even before the money was transferred), schools would just have to take a back seat.

Can you say "trailer time," people? Because that's where your children would be if they aren't already there already.

Teachers wouldn't get competitive raises. You know it and so do I because Corey and the BOCS have previoulsy resisted increasing teachers' pay to competitive salary rates for at least one budget cycle. Under-paid teachers mean turnover, difficulty recruiting, and short-staffed schools at a time when SOL's are still the stressful focus of the curriculum and the mark of school success or failure.

Can you say, "substitute teacher time"? Because that's what your kids would end up with, assuming the county deemed it necessary to get subs--that is, if they didn't decide instead to combine classrooms to ridiculous maximums.

Programs deemed by the BOCS as "unnecessary" would be cut. For all you folks out there who complain about international students not knowing the language, get ready to complain even more because you KNOW ESOL classes would be slashed in K-12 and Adult Education--Corey doesn't exactly support the international community, and this would be one more way to help him meet his pre-existing ambitions of purging public education of imaginary "illegals."

Can you say, "academic failure"? Can you say, "high drop-out rates"? I hope so. Because without adequate instruction, that's what would happen, and schools would be vulnerable to state and federal sanctions.

Specialists would be cut. IEP (individual educational plan) meetings for special education would become nearly impossible to coordinate, with more reliance on outside consultants. For those of you who have no idea what an IEP meeting entails, let me give you a sketch of what is LEGALLY required: at least one teacher besides the classroom teacher, the Vice Principal, speech and/or LD specialists, a counselor, a social worker and other professionals as appropriate. You can bet the schools would have to wait the maximum legal time allowed to set up these meetings because of staffing and funding problems. You can bet "child studies" to help educationally at-risk children would have to be put off even more so than they are now because they require meetings with multiple professionals.

Can you say, "mistreatment of the disabled"? I hope so. Because that is what would happen with a budget that is already too tight, that would be cut further by the BOCS in control.

There are a million other cuts the BOCS could (and would) apply to suit their own needs and political aspirations. If you think what they are doing to the libraries and other services is bad, just let this bill get passed.

We have two Boards in the county because our county voted to do so (source: League of Women Voters, Prince William Area).

We have Boards in this county because two Boards means we have checks and balances. It means we have educators running education, not professional politicians and lawyers with their own interests.

Whether or not we like our School Board or BOCS members is irrelevant.

Whether or not we agree with either or both Boards' decisions is also irrelevant.

What is most important is that Richmond is attempting to eradicate the democratic process, putting all the power in the hands of a single Board, and the ultimate power in the hands of someone like Corey Stewart.

House Joint Resolution 245 removes all checks and balances.

Contact your Delegates and State Senators. Tell them we resent and oppose their attempt to ax our state constitutional right to a democratic state.

Keep Virginia fair and educated.
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