Gloucester school board seeks larger voice

by Kim Robins - Posted on Aug 11, 2010 - 03:13 PM

Gloucester School Board members said Tuesday they would like a larger voice on an advisory committee being assembled to make recommendations regarding future county capital projects.

An Aug. 4 news release from county spokesman Christi Lewis announcing the formation of the committee said it would be comprised of two county supervisors, one representative each from the county planning commission and school board, and two residents with relevant finance or construction experience.

During Tuesday night’s school board meeting, chairman Ann Burruss said she wanted the board to send county administrator Brenda Garton a letter requesting that an additional school board member be added to the planning group.

"We have more property, we have more square footage and we have more employees," said Burruss. "If we don’t continue to push our needs, we’re never going to get anything done. We cannot keep saying we’ll make do with this, we’ll patch it up, we’ll make do with that."

Other board members agreed that the school system has more capital needs than the county and said it was "discouraging" to find out about the committee’s formation through the newspaper. The proposal to send the letter was approved by a 6-0 vote, with member Starr Belvin absent from the meeting.

County supervisors have indicated they will consider changing their lump-sum method of funding the school board’s budget to funding it categorically, a move school officials object to. School board members indicated they wanted to discuss the matter with supervisors who instead suggested the school officials present their views at the Sept. 7 supervisors’ meeting.

With the school board’s support, Burruss sent a letter to supervisors on July 14 asking that the two boards discuss the matter at their scheduled Sept. 21 joint session in lieu of making a presentation on Sept. 7. She also wanted to know why the change needed to be considered.

Burruss said Tuesday she had not received a response to the July 14 correspondence. "I hope you at least get a response to this letter," School Board member A.J. "Jay" McGlohn said of the letter addressing the capital planning committee concern.

The school board was slated to discuss the Sept. 7 presentation during Tuesday’s meeting but Burruss said she had not had time to consider it. McGlohn and School Board vice chairman Anita Parker said they also were not prepared to discuss the matter and the board agreed to move the topic to its Aug. 26 meeting agenda.