Residents reacted with shock last Wednesday when Mathews County supervisor Janine Burns suggested during a budget meeting in the historic courthouse that perhaps the board of supervisors should appoint members to the school board, which is currently an elected body.
Gasps and grumbles erupted throughout the packed room, then subsided as Burns, clearly prepared for the reaction, posited another suggestion—that perhaps the school board should be given taxing authority.
The suggestions came after a discussion in which Burns told the gathered crowd that the board of supervisors finds it difficult to understand the needs of the schools because of a lack of transparency in the budget that’s submitted every year.
"We’re still three years into the recession, and we’re guessing what the actual expenses were," she said. "The basis is not clear, and that complicates the role we have to play greatly."
County administrator Steve Whiteway had earlier explained that the school budget as adopted by the school board would have required $323,014 in additional funding from the county, mostly to replace funds that were cut by the state.
In response to Burns’s comments, supervisors chair O.J. Cole said that the BOS had chosen to fund the schools with a lump sum rather than requiring a categorical breakdown of expenses, thereby permitting the school board "to do the job they were elected to do."