As budget decision time for the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors nears, I wrote this letter to the Editor of the Fauquier Times Democrat. The focus of the entire county has been the school budget proposal put forth by Dr. Lewis, Superintendent of Schools. Dr. Lewis’ proposed budget would increase the school budget by $5 million, and many feel it is primarily intended to fund controversial diversity and other social engineering programs that Dr. Lewis has implemented.
After the 1 Feb letter by Dr. Lewis which was printed in the FTD I wrote a reply which was also printed in which I said this, “The Superintendent is attempting to enlist teachers and sympathetic citizens to force the BoS to do the dirty work of extorting more money from the taxpayers… “
After the recent Public Hearing at Fauquier HS it is clear I am clairvoyant. The teachers acting as one, sent speaker after speaker to the podium to plead for full funding of the school budget by the BoS, and several made the case for a tax increase including one gentleman who said he could afford a 3 cent per hundred increase in property taxes, and didn’t see why we couldn’t all afford the same.
Unfortunately we are looking at a much larger increase than 3 cents (3 percent roughly) to the $0.97/$100 property tax rate currently in effect. Fully funding the proposed school budget requires an increase of 5 million which equates to a 5 percent increase in property taxes.
If we fully fund the school budget then we must fully fund a raise for other county employees who have not had one for the last few years, and additional staffing for Sheriff, EMS, and Dispatch as well; after all aren’t we all for the safest community possible for our children to grow up in?
Add in these costs and we are looking at a 10 percent increase in property taxes according to Mr. McCulla who was recently quoted in the FTD on this subject.
In these times of economic strife, a 10 percent increase in property taxes is more than many families including some teachers, will be able to bear.
Dr. Lewis started this “kerfuffle” by proposing an unrealistic budget and threatening to cut key educational programs, sports and other activities, and flat lining teacher salaries. This had the desired effect of riling up the teachers and the community in opposition to the BoS resistance to raising taxes in the current economic climate.
So what do we have now?
A battle just as predicted. One in which the Superintendent is standing on the sidelines cheering for the teachers and one half the community to force the BoS to accept his budget and raise taxes against the better judgment of the BoS and the other half of the community. A battle where the Superintendent is also trying to stir animosity between school administrators and School Board members, toward one particular member of the BoS to try to get his way.
Is this the kind of Superintendent of Schools that Fauquier County needs or deserves? One that instead of leading and working within the available budget chooses to divide the community in a bitter fight over raising taxes at a time when many are struggling to pay their mortgages, just so he can get his way?
Maybe it is time for the School Board to make a tough decision and find a new Superintendent for our schools; one that will more closely represent the goals and values of the citizens of Fauquier County.
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