Editorial: The dysfunctional Gloucester family
When money gets tight, people naturally get testy. It leads to disagreements, fights and, in some extreme cases, divorce.
That’s as true of governments as it is of families. When times are good, and the economy is doing well, government agencies are happy to work together on projects, sharing resources and working toward a common goal. But when the money stops flowing, there’s often a bitter, divisive fight over what little that remains.
The current dispute between the Gloucester Board of Supervisors and the Gloucester School Board is, at its heart, not very different from that of a married couple arguing over household finances.
Last week, supervisors voted by a 4-3 margin not to consider a request by the chairman of the school board to delay taking action on a change from lump sum to categorical funding until the two boards could first sit down together and discuss the matter.
It wasn’t as if they had officially entertained the request, considered its relative merits, and then voted to reject it. They simply weren’t going to talk about it (although, of course, in giving their reasons why they were not talking about it, they ended up doing just that). Using the analogy of the married couple, it was as if the husband had put his hands over his ears, shouting loudly and simply refused to hear what his wife was saying.
The crux of the argument centers on $400 bonuses that the school board voted to give its employees (except for the top two administrators) to compensate for static salaries. Some supervisors think it was irresponsible to pay out these bonuses in the face of declining revenues and other pressing needs. They would have preferred if the school board had taken this excess revenue and returned it to the county’s coffers.
Without getting into which side is right, or if there is a right side, it is obvious that both boards need to sit down and hash out their disagreements and come to some mutually satisfactory conclusion. They also need to remember that they are on the same side and, like a married couple, need to consider what’s in the best interest of the entire family.
Maybe the school board and supervisors should enroll in some family counseling.