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Showing posts from April, 2016

Yes, We've Been AWOL

The Good News: Yes, we're still planning to blog about Radical Common Sense in Prince William County and to dig deep into the issues facing our community.

The Bad News: Everyone gets busy from time to time and, unfortunately, opportunities to write about the latest excitement in Prince William County have been few and far between for us over the last couple of weeks.

There certainly has been a lot going on over the last couple of weeks including, but not limited to,

- Potential lowering the percentage of funds county schools receive under the revenue sharing agreement with the BOCS
- Likely passage of a tax rate lower than the advertised tax rate
- Supervisors on the BOCS wishing to take control over how the School Board spends its funds
- Purchase of a Steinway Piano for Colgan High School for $125,000.
- The Price tag for renaming Godwin Middle School to George Hampton Middle School, which has been confirmed to be lower than the $500,000 many cited it would cost.

We definitely lo…

What is the True Cost of the Godwin Name Change?

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Last year, the aquatics center to be built in Colgan High School was a hot-button issue during the budget. While the cost (approximately $12 million) seemed to be a lot, in reality, the issue was being used a diversionary tactic to distract from the chronic under-funding of our schools.
I wrote about this issue a year ago, explaining how the pool compared to the cost to reduce class sizes over one year and ten years.
This year, the issue is the renaming of Godwin Middle School to George Hampton Middle School. Since a Potomac Local article was published a week ago, there has been criticism of the potential costs of the renaming.
$500,000
That is a lot of money, but, in reality, a small expenditure in the over $1 billion budget of the region's most underfunded school system. Additionally, it is much less than the cost to build the aquatics center at Colgan High School.
It also represents a misreading of the Potomac Local article linked above. Waiting until the end of life expectancy…

Just Another Manic Monday!

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Mondays .... yes, they bring good and bad. And, in Prince William County budget politics, this Monday does not disappoint.

First, the bad....

Today, InsideNOVA reported that BOCS Chairman Corey Stewart is proposing to adopt a tax rate of $1.122 (the current tax rate) instead of the advertised tax rate of $1.145. This is significant as the article stated that cuts of "$6.2 million from the school division revenue and $4.7 million in county revenue" would need to be made, as the School Board budget was built on the advertised tax rate.

To put $6.2 million into perspective, the cost to teach additional incoming students next year will be $6.9 million. The cost to provide a step salary increase for teachers will be $18 million. Class size reduction plans cost $4.7 million. 

In the same article, it is noted that "Stewart wants to save property owners about $70 – or about $6 a month -- on their real-estate tax bills next year." This is the difference between the advertis…

Using a Flamethrower to Torch the Community

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In a little over a week, the BOCS will adopt the budget and property tax rate. The Advertised Tax rate of $1.145 has been used to guide the budget of the School Board and provides needed funding for programs and services in the County budget. However, the group of Supervisors I've dubbed the Austere Four, led by Supervisor Pete Candland, and featuring Supervisors Lawson, Anderson, and Chairman Corey Stewart, appears poised to advocate for a lower tax rate.

Supervisor Candland, for better or for worse, has advocated for lower tax rates than the advertised rate in every budget.

He likes using a flamethrower to get his way.....

Hylton Performing Arts Center funding? Shoot it down with the flamethrower because lowering taxes is much more important than encouraging arts and culture in the community, much less keeping the obligation to fund the center, which if cut, may find the BOCS in legal trouble.

PRTC funding? Shoot it down with the flamethrower because punishing the PRTC for its re…

This Week's BOCS and School Board Meetings: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

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There has been plenty of significant excitement going in Prince William County politics this meeting. Rather than describing what happened in a verbose way, I’ve decided to briefly outline my thoughts on this week’s excitement –
The Good
School Board Budget Presentation to the BOCS Chairman Ryan Sawyers and Dave Kline, Associate Superintendent for Finance and Support Services, eloquently outlined the budget that was unanimously passed by the School Board, which is based on the advertised tax rate of $1.145. This budget reinstates previous cuts in such ways as lowering class sizes, providing economically disadvantaged funding, and providing more funding for Special Education while funding for additional students and a compensation increase for employees.
Not only did Sawyers make the case to pass this budget, but also called for funding to provide needed space for students to learn. 4,000 students are in trailers and it costs $130 million to provide the space to move these students into…

Tyranny and the Renaming of Godwin Middle School

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On Wednesday, the School Board will reconsider the renaming of Godwin Middle School to George Hampton Middle School. In the motion, last month, to name the new Ferlazzo School for fallen firefighter Kyle Wilson, there was an amendment to rename Godwin for community activist George Hampton. Even though this motion passed unanimously last month, some School Board members are having second thoughts. While this decision has been praised as a common sense compromise to honor two men considered in the naming of the Ferlazzo school, others have decried the renaming of Godwin as tyranny.
Is there educational tyranny in naming or renaming a school without prior input from the community? On March 3, 2011, The School Board named the new elementary school in Bristow to be opened that fall as Piney Branch Elementary School. In the same vote, without convening committees or obtaining the input of the community, the middle school to be opened a year later (in the fall 2012) was named for Ronald Rea…