Letter: Questions supervisors’ ability to oversee school finances
It’s déjà vu all over again! In an attempt to turn very simple, intelligent, democratic, Socratic discourse into a fiery, angry vitriolic political debate, three members of the Gloucester County Board of Supervisors—(Bobby) Crewe, (Michelle) Ressler and (Gregory) Woodard—demanded that the school board report to their full board why and how they funded a $400 stipend to specific school employees—money allocated from a previous budget cycle.
Rather than merely pick up the phone and call the elected school board representative in their district, or chair Ann Burruss, these three BOS members made slanderous remarks about school board representatives and their one-time funding allocation. They also participated in a majority vote not to meet with the school board in a joint meeting to discuss the matter.
However, on Sept. 7, supervisor Carter Borden made a motion to schedule a joint meeting with the school board after member Jay McGlohn completed his presentation to the BOS. In spite of the motion, BOS members Ressler and Woodard were allowed to verbally assault and attempt to publically humiliate McGlohn and Burruss—until BOS chair Louise Theberge and member Borden clarified that a motion to conduct a joint meeting was on the floor. Perhaps "Roberts’ Rules of Order" should be required reading for all public officials.
Now that the Sept. 21 joint meeting, during which no public session was permitted, has been held, the BOS has put on its Oct. 5 agenda to vote whether to move from the lump sum funding of the schools to categorical funding; a repeat of the historic 2008 meeting when a perfect storm of Gloucester citizens, concerned not only about the possibility of moving to categorical funding but also the back room, behind closed doors politics that resulted in the ouster of numerous well respected and competent public servants, joined with parents, teachers, present and past school board members and other officials.
Let us all be present at the Oct. 5 meeting for another perfect storm of individuals and groups concerned with the lack of a democratic, intelligent discussion on funding of our largest employer—the public schools, and BOS members’ verbal assaults against our elected school board representatives. Additionally, if you also question the ethics of BOS members Crewe and Woodard, who have each filed bankruptcy; Woodard recently a second time, making leadership and budgetary decisions for our county, you may also wish to question their capability.
If we are ever to move away from the issue of categorical vs. lump sum funding, it may take a referendum on the November ballot to have funds dispersed directly to the school board, not through the BOS. If you agree, write your elected state government representatives and ask them to place such a referendum on next year’s ballot (it may be too late for this November).
If our BOS cannot be trusted to engage our other elected officials in discussion about funding procedures, then we must place the funds in the hands of the school board, who we know through past experience can be trusted to engage in rational, sound democratic debate.