Thursday, March 26, 2009

Joint School Board/City Council Meeting Tense Moments

School Board Chairman, David Carson

School Board Chairman, David Carson

Today at a noon lunch and joint meeting, the Roanoke City School Board asked City Council for $3.7 million toward their budget shortfall. Rita Bishop, RCPS Administrator pleaded for 81  positions that included teachers,  assistants, nurses. and guidance counselors.  A long and arduous dollar for dollar discrepancy ensued in what Curt Baker, Deputy Superintendent of Operations presented as school budget calculations versus the calculations that Ann Shawver, Director of Finance  questioned at a briefing to Council on March 16 (CLICK HERE FOR THAT PRESENTATION).

David Carson, Chairman of the School Board showed impatience in the “questioning” of the school administration’s budget calculations. Carson said, “he was alittle troubled by Ann’s talk – I heard alot of checking and double checking here and there which doesn’t sound to me like the cooperation that …” Mayor Bowers cut in at that moment to reassure Carson. Carson was firm in that any favorable adjustments that may result in underestimating either sales tax projections, medical insurance funding, or debt service contributions should err on the conservative side. Taking care of the children should be first and foremost. Carson went on to say he “thought there could be a more productive use of our time with each other then to spend time on this.” Carson pointed out that the sales tax revenue, medical insurance, etc., are estimates and “we cannot afford to be wrong because if we are we don’t have a way to address that.” Carson ended with “you have our request and we appreciate your time.” Lacy Putney, School Board Member, backed Carson’s assertions that better use of time could be made rather than questioning. Putney said “it is not very conducive for trust – we have capable people in our school system and questioning them in public is not the best use of my time.” Bowers agreed and said, “it should go to the executives and let them work it out.”

Rita Bishop, RCPS School Administrator, said they needed an answer from the City on the $3.7 million by April 3 to give them time to complete the budget by April 7. City Council had not planned to meet on it until their April 6 morning briefing. Bantered about by Mayor David Bowers was an April 3 meeting of Council but Vice-Mayor Sherman Lea could not attend. Then a Saturday meeting on April 4 was discussed but Lea is to be out of town that whole weekend. Councilman Dave Trinkle had left for another meeting and was unavailable to ask if he could attend on the 3rd or 4th of April. It was left that Council would meet on the 3rd or 4th or 8:00 AM on April 6th.

SEE “Last Chance to be Heard” on attendance zone public hearing held later in the evening.

CORRECTION:Ann Shawver stated at the March 16th presentation that an increase of children on free or reduced lunch was upward to 78% of all students. This was corrected by the School Board today and it is 68% which is a 3% to 4% increase over last year per Rita Bishop.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Education, Roanoke City Public Schools

Tags: , ,


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