Supervisors question school spending

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Boards will meet together Thursday at 6 p.m

By John Barnhart

Mark Twain, the famous 19th century author, once wrote, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated,” in response to some newspaper stories stating that he had died.
    The same is apparently true of an article that appeared in another county newspaper that reported a heated debate between members of county administration and some members of the board of supervisors during a Jan. 11 retreat held at the Peaks of Otter Lodge.
    Was there a heated debate?
    “Good Lord no!” exclaimed County Administrator Mark Reeter when asked this question. “The only thing that was heated was the room.”
    “We had a very nice lunch,” commented District 2 Supervisor Curry Martin. Martin did not recall anything being heated.
    “You can’t believe everything you read in the newspaper,”  said  District  4   Supervisor  John Sharp.
    “No, not at all,” said District 3 Supervisor Steve Wilkerson. “I don’t think there was anything heated about it.”
    Part of the day’s discussions were about the budget, especially the school budget and supervisors reiterated positions they had expressed in last year’s budget discussions.
    “I think I was the only one there who got new information,” said Wilkerson, who was newly elected to the board of supervisors in November. “There didn’t seem to be any surprises.”
    He said Sharp expressed frustration over how the school division is spending reversion funds.
    “I don’t remember us having a heated debate about anything,” said District 6 Supervisor Annie Pollard.
    Pollard said that they talked about school funding. She said there was concern that the school board has put the extra money coming from the state, due to Bedford’s reversion, into the school operating budget. According to Pollard, the supervisors had been previously told that the money would be used to build the new middle school in the Liberty attendance zone that the reversion agreement signed between the county and the former city calls to be constructed.
    Pollard said that all had agreed during a closed session between the school board and board of supervisors, as reversion negotiations were nearing their end, that the money would be used for school capital improvements.
    “They put it all in operations,” she said.
    “We are worried about what is going to happen when that money goes away,” Pollard said, explaining the concern.
    She also said that they talked about the nine schools, out of 22 county schools, that are not accredited.
    “People want to see results from what we are giving [the schools].” Pollard said. She added that Dr. Douglas Schuch, the county’s superintendent of schools, has already told the supervisors that the school division will be asking for an additional $1 million.
    “We just had a general conversation,” Pollard said. “We weren’t making a decision on anything. It was not a heated discussion, I can tell you that.”