Letter: Keep a close eye on school budget requests
School budget time is upon us again. Dr. Kiser is giving interviews clearly designed to trumpet the need of more of our money to educate our children. Before going off to urge your supervisors to meet these unnecessary increases, please ask your school board representative these simple questions:
1. Why has T.C. Walker Elementary been kept open two years past the point where declining student enrollment indicated that it should be closed? Simply put, the funds that were squandered over the last two years could have been used to fund pay raises two years ago instead of maintaining excess assets. Funds saved beyond the annual cost of the pay raise would have made a significant dent in deferred maintenance at other facilities.
2. Why is the new middle school being built with excess capacity that will not be needed unless more buildings are placed adjacent? By the time new facilities are built, the proposed excess facilities would be dated to the point of needing replacement anyway. The excess capacity takes funds now from other projects, has no real use in the future, will require funds for decades from the budget to maintain, heat and cool the unneeded facilities. Read this as no raises in the future.
3. What are the specific enrollment estimates in the out years and what data supports the size of the middle school being proposed? Declining enrollment in the elementary system has been the trend over the last five years. What possible explanation could there be for building middle school seating that is based on an increase in enrollment?
4. What is the cost of building a middle school at the Page site? Excluding the Page site from serious consideration was based on a building much larger than is actually needed to meet a reasonable enrollment estimate. Moving forward with the T.C. Walker site should be halted until these questions are answered and a comparison of sites based on reasonable enrollment estimates can be made.
These are just four of the many, many questions that should be answered by the school board concerning the 2013 budget and construction of a new middle school. Please contact your school board representative to get answers before more funds are wasted on excess infrastructure. Please let your board of supervisors representative know you are concerned with the financial actions of the school board and urge them to exercise their responsibility for oversight of funds they appropriate.
Gloucester Point, Va.