Carroll School Board responds to board of supervisors

Chairman addresses comments made previous night by Carroll County officials

Brian Spencer

The Carroll County School Board has responded to comments made by members of the Carroll County Board of Supervisors over an appropriation of $575,502 supervisors said could have helped avoid a tax increase if the appropriation had been known prior to the budget process.

The Carroll News will have a full article in its June 22 edition of the Carroll County School Board’s response during its June 14 meeting. The following is the full statement Carroll County School Board Chairman Brian Spencer made during the June 14 meeting:

“I would like to respond to a comment about the Average Daily Membership (ADM) being a miscalculation. Whenever we begin the budget process we begin by looking at the Weldon Cooper Center (located at the University of Virginia) for predictions for our student population. We also look at the number of graduates for the year before the budget as well as our kindergarten registration history. We look at the last 10 year trends and make the best educated guess about the number on which to base our budget.

In the 2014-2015 budget process, we based our budget on an ADM figure of 3,820. The actual March ADM figure was 3,716. The Finance Committee was looking at a shortfall of ~$750,000.00. The School Board did not come running back to the board of supervisors to ask for more money. We dealt with the shortfall by tightening our belt, benefiting from the drop in gas prices and most notably had to tell 19 staff members (aides, secretaries, teachers, support staff and one supervisor from the central office) they would not be returning in the 2015-2016 school year. I don’t remember any of the board of supervisor members worrying about the difference between the budgeted and March ADM at that point.

During the 2015-2016 budget process, we passed our budget on an ADM figure of 3,620, once again using the Weldon Cooper Center figures and our 10 year ADM trends. We looked at every piece of data to determine the cause of the drop in ADM. Most of the drop was caused by families moving from the Carroll County area. After the devastating drop in the 2014-2015 ADM estimate, we budgeted more conservatively. As the school year started, we monitored the ADM on a daily basis and were pleased when the September 30th number was 3,752.

We made no secret of the increase and told the previous county administrator, the assistant county administrator (and current acting county administrator, and the Chairman of the Boards of Supervisors) that we had more students, but that would require us to add some positions to address the needs of the students.

During the 2015-2016 school year the following positions have been added:

– three aides (two special ed and one regular ed)

– two special ed teachers

– one math teacher – secondary

– one CTE/STEM teacher

– Student Assistance Counselor at Alt Ed Center

– Part Time – Bus/Entre Education Facilitator

– Not only these positions, but all additional costs that occur when you have more students.

It was said last night – “We could have saved the county $575,000 if it had worked out in the budget process.” What the Board of Supervisor member doesn’t seem to understand is that he has mixed two separate budget cycles. The $575,000 appropriation request is payment for services that have already been provided to students in the 2015-2016 budget and is due to teachers, staff, and vendors. Should the Board of Supervisors not approve the appropriation request, the July accrual payroll will be $575,000 short.

Years ago before I was elected to any position in Carroll County, I was inspired by some of our community leaders – Randall Gravely not only promoted education and physical wellness but he also saw the need for non-profits and donated his mayoral salary to those causes. I worked on budgets for the county with Superintendent Oliver McBride, who specifically asked that he not receive raises but address salaries for his staff. Because of them and many others I ran for public office and have been grateful to the citizens of the county for allowing me to participate in the growth of our county. We need to be statesmen and role models for our community and our children. I love being the School Board Chairman, and I try to behave in a manner that will earn respect because I want our children to be good citizens – statesmen. We pride ourselves as a school system on being educators – All of us. If I don’t understand something, I will ask and not attack. You cannot make good decisions unless you understand the issues. We try to be as transparent as we possibly can. We have met with the Board of Supervisors budget committee on numerous occasions and have answered any question posed. If we don’t know the answer, we will find it but we will not give incorrect information or inflammatory remarks.

Finally – It was said “I think they done it and was deceitful about it.” This comment is particularly troubling to me. No one on our school board or administration is deceitful. The County Administrator’s office has had the appropriation request since May 11. We sent them the information on how the requested appropriation had been spent on the additional students. This included adding staff to cover the influx of students. Not one single call to either the Superintendent, School Board members, or the Finance Supervisor was made to ask questions concerning the appropriation. Instead the Board of Supervisors decided to publicly vilify the School Board, Superintendent, and School Board Staff with incorrect information, half-truths, and innuendo. This is not productive and it’s not the character of statesmen.

In the future, I would ask that Board of Supervisors members, particularly new members, who do not have a grasp of the facts, processes, or issues to contact someone before making accusations and creating very bruised feelings. I have spent my whole time as the School Board Chairman trying to build bridges between the two boards and the County Administrator’s office. I will not let that five-year endeavor be undone in one Board of Supervisor meeting.

I respect the offices of the Board of Supervisors members and the tasks they have all been elected to perform.”

Brian Spencer Spencer
Chairman addresses comments made previous night by Carroll County officials
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