Bouffault Offers School Assessment as Board Tenure Ends

After two years of productive, yet often contentious, collaboration the tenure of the 2008 – 2011 Clarke County School Board has come to a close. Over the past two years its members, Janet Alger (Russell), Robina Bouffault (White Post), Barbara Lee (Millwood), Emily Rhodes (Buckmarsh) and Jennifer Welliver (Berryville) accomplished one of the primary goals that voters had asked of them; construction of a new high school.

But while the outgoing School Board found a way to agree on most of the details related to the new school’s construction, a one-time bonus for school employees in the face of opposition from the Board of Supervisors as well as the establishment of a cost-saving joint maintenance agreement with the County, other issues spawned heated and public disagreement.

Robina Bouffault led the Clarke County High School construction effort during her tenure as a school board member

Declining student test scores, school management and policy disagreements, questions related to construction of the Mosby Avenue extension as well as the School Board’s relationship with the Clarke County Education Foundation proved to be both difficult and divisive issues.

Whether you are a supporter or a detractor of the outgoing School Board’s twice elected chairman Robina Bouffault (White Post), and there are many on both sides of the fence, Bouffault has arguably been the Board’s most active and outspoken member and will leave her signature on Clarke County education for years to come.

“My motivation for running was to make sure new high school capacity was built” Bouffault said at the start of 2012 and no longer as a School Board member. “Student capacity issues had been worsening yearly, with no valid solution in sight. It had also become a highly divisive matter for the entire community for too many years, and a lot of taxpayer money had been wasted. I felt that my long experience in the construction industry could help resolve the apparent impasse.”

Bouffault, who was the School Board’s authorized contract agent managing the new high school contract, says that her construction and business experience ultimately paid off well for County taxpayers. Based on school construction results that assertion is hard to disagree with.

“The new high school construction is continuing on schedule” Bouffault said. “The 162,000 square foot building is looking good and is fast nearing completion. The initial “substantial completion” date is January 23rd – only 3 weeks away. The project is approximately $600,000 under budget at this point. Any extra money remaining will be rolled over into the other school renovation projects.”

Bouffault had only praise for construction team working on the building.

“Shockey have been fabulous to work with” Bouffault said. “They are true professionals.”

Bouffault is clearly proud of the soon-to-be-completed school building and pointed out that once the final “punch list” of construction items has been addressed and the School Board takes possession of the building on March 23rd, the benefits to students will extend well beyond the walls of the new building.

“When Shockey hands over the keys for the building to the School Board, we will then be able proceed to equipment installation including the smart boards, a full camera security system, a complete phone network and subsequent furniture installation” Bouffault said. “We can then move from the current high school just as soon as the students are gone in June. The new school should be more than ready for its first year to start in August, 2012. This will be an exciting time for our students and for all of us.”

Bouffault said that the official ribbon-cutting ceremony – scheduled for Saturday, April 28th , 2012 at 11:00 AM  with a subsequent building tour of the building – will mark a wonderful accomplishment for the community and urged the public to attend.

“Put it on your calendars!” Bouffault said.

But while the new school nears completion, the accompanying construction of the extension of Mosby Avenue and a round-about on Main Street are just beginning.

“This VDOT – Town – County project should not be forgotten, of course” Bouffault said. “The School Board has given a total of between 8 and 9 acres of school land in easements for this project. VDOT is due to go out for bid this month [January], and has scheduled a Notice to Proceed to the winning bidder for May, 2012. The schedule shows that they will start with the Westwood/Main Street intersection round-about in four phases, to allow traffic to continue through the intersection during construction, although limited, and they have included the build-out of the new Mosby Avenue from the intersection to the back entrance of the new high school before bad weather sets in. The final portion of the new Mosby Avenue -from the back entrance of the new high school to the end of the existing Mosby – will be done the following spring, if it cannot be completed prior to the winter.”

Bouffault said that after much discussion the entrances to the new high school will include the main entrance – from the existing Mosby Avenue at the end of Battlefield Estates – a “buses only” entrance from Main Street and a “back entrance from the ‘new’ Mosby Avenue approximately 600 feet from the Westwood/Main street intersection.

But although the new school will be a well-recognized symbol of the School Board’s accomplishments, Bouffault said that there are other items that she is also proud of.

“The new school did take up quite a bit of time, however I was also very pleased at the establishment of the highly successful joint maintenance agreement with the county, with county Maintenance Director Bobby Levi doing a fabulous job of making all of our schools look pristine all of the time in a very cost efficient manner” Bouffault said. “It is a very good example of what can be done when the schools and county work together. I would also like to say that we had finalized getting a really good building automation system in place, however, although advanced, that project is still in the works, and hopefully the new board will bring it to fruition.”

Despite the construction success of the new school, Bouffault said that there are other areas where she would have liked to have seen more progress.

“There are two areas where I would have liked to have accomplished more” Bouffault said. “First of all, academic performance has sadly declined over the last three years for a number of reasons. Secondly, I am disappointed that we were not able to advance with the other school renovations that the Board had initiated in 2010 – that project has been slowed, which could result in trailers being around for one or more years.”

Financially, Bouffault sees a mixed horizon for Clarke County Public Schools with increases in Virginia education funding but subsequent decreases from federal funding sources.

“Budgets for the past few years have been tight, both for the county and for the schools” Bouffault said. ”The Clarke rumor mill – ever active – talks of school operating budgets having been substantially cut by over $2 million serious school employee ‘firings’. These rumors are happily not accurate at all.” To the contrary,

Bouffault says, in spite of a substantial decrease in the Clarke County student population, overall operational funding has stayed essentially flat with local tax funding picking up the state and federal shortfalls.

“From FY07 to the present, there has been an overall decrease of some 159 students – a -7.2% declinewhich has resulted in an almost $500,000 yearly decrease in the state’s funding on a per-pupil basis” Bouffault said. “In spite of this, funding for school operations has slightly risen by 1.1%  since FY07There have been no cuts in the schools operational funding, and certainly not any $2 million.”

Bouffault challenges the notion of $2 million in school budget over the last several years that has been alleged by school officials.

“Local funding has been making up the federal and state funding deficiencies, to the tune of a 28.7% increase over that same period of time” Bouffault said. Further, Bouffault argues that since 2009, in Clarke there has been no decrease in the overall number of school employees and that employee FTEs (full-time equivalents) have remained fairly constant at 320 FTEs in spite of the 7.2% student decrease.

“The number of K-12 licensed teachers in FY07 was 123.81 FTEs and in FY12, it is currently 122.50 FTEsBouffault pointed out.” However, this number does not include the various SPED teachers, counselors, etc. that can vary from year to year depending upon the composition of the pupil populations.”

From a budgetary perspective, Bouffault says that she sees some good news for Clarke County in this year’s Virginia education budget, stemming primarily from a more favorable “composite index” score which is used to compute the state contribution to individual counties based on the locality’s ability to fund local education.

“A decrease in our county’s composite index score, 0.4892 down from 0.5346 – an 8.5% decrease due to a decrease in the county’s  real estate values and individuals revenues caused by the poor economy – means that we are poorer, and need a higher percentage of state funding” Bouffault explained. “The composite index decline has resulted in a state school operational funding increase of $1,018,690, a great boon for our tiny county.”

But Bouffault also warned that the increase in funding from the composite index adjustment will be partially offset by a federal funding decrease of $376,410 with the termination of the JOBS stimulus funding from last year.

“But, we’re still ahead of the game, right?” Bouffault rhetorically asked. “Well, I’m not so sure. What the state giveth with one hand, it taketh away with the other.”

Bouffault said that this year’s school budget will also shoulder large increases in the cost of school employee benefits with the Virginia Retirement System costs – health insurance and life insurance costs – increasing dramatically.

“The exact figures have yet to be announced by the Virginia Assembly” Bouffault said. “These should be known quite shortly however, by the end of this month. I have no doubt it will be the subject of much political snarling down in Richmond, and subsequently in every county in the Commonwealth.”

With a mixed budget picture and a new school both on the 2012 education horizon, Bouffault offered some parting advice for the newly elected School Board team;

“The incoming board should focus on improving student performance so that the schools can shine in the top ten of the Academic Wachovia Cup, just as they do in the Athletic Wachovia Cup” Bouffault said. “I would also suggest that the board choose a qualified SB representative to oversee the renovations, to expedite them and get the students completely out of trailers as soon as possible.”

Over her four years in office, Bouffault’s outspoken positions on often controversial topics have, at times, made her the lightning rod for opposing viewpoints. Even so, Bouffault says that the she is pleased to have had the opportunity to serve the Clarke County community.

“It’s been a very gratifying and exciting four years, and I am delighted to have been able to help with getting our new CCHS built. It was definitely worth the effort.”

Asked if she may have future political ambitions Bouffault replied:

“There is nothing foreseen at this time.”

Comments

  1. Again… Nothing nice to say about the administration or teacher staff that does more with less every year that this school board was in session. Sad… Ms.Bouffault….sad

  2. just the facts..PLEASE says:

    The administration has failed the county students and taxpayers…..budgets are tight EVERYWHERE….but results are maintained…..welcome to the REAL world!

    oh yes….since when is having fewer students with a slightly increased operational budget “ doing more with less”?

    OK…… I am prepared for ANOTHER personal attack on my intelligence by HOOPSFAN because I want the administration to be held accountable for declining results…….. Does this subject hit a little too close to home??…. maybe I stepped on someone’s toes.

  3. Tom Witmark says:

    Let’s check her numbers:
    If one looks at the .pdf files located on the CCPS website, under “School Board – Budget,” here’s what one finds for the School Operating Fund from Local Tax Funding numbers (from the Adopted budgets):
    FY09 (SY 08-09) = $11,312,512
    FY10 (SY 09-10) = $10,612,582 (a decrease of $699,930…or 6.2%)
    FY11 (SY 10-11) = $9,988748 (a decrease of $623,834…or 5.9%)
    FY12 (SY 11-12) = $10,081,457 (an increase of $92,709…or 0.9%)

    So…overall…there has been an aggregate decrease in School Operating Funds from Local Tax Funding of $1,231,055 over the past 3 years. Is that the “$2 million reduction” she quotes unnamed school administrators as saying? No, but neither is her claim that local funding only gone up an accurate one. The FY07 amount was only $84,000 less than the FY11 amount; from FY07 thru FY12, the increase is $276,543…some 2.4% over 5 years. In that same time, the costs of operating has gone up almost twice that (fuel costs, health insurance, supplies, etc.). Yes, the county took on debt service and increased capital expenditures, which do compensate for the reduced operations numbers, but school operating funds have been cut significantly on her watch. The numbers don’t lie.

    Notably absent from these recent budgets are salary increases, which have been stagnant for 4 years. FTE #s might be unchanged, but the #s of classroom teachers has gone down…with increased class sizes placing even more strain on the teaching staff.

    • Mr. ?? Witmark ( a pseudonym, as you are nowhere to be found in the phone book, land records, or any other reference available) are you even a Clarke County resident??;

      It is obvious that you are not familiar with accounting, and the difference between operational and capital funding.

      What is posted on the school website are the annual budgets – not actual results – and the operational expenses do not include the capital costs. Local taxpayers not only pay a portion of the operational costs – in addition to state and federal payments – but they must assume the TOTAL cost of ALL capital expenditures, including all school construction and maintenance. I would draw your attention to pages 35 and 36 of the FT12 (current) budget posted that you did not mention. The 28.6% local increase in school spending reflects that fact. Schools are not built and maintained for free.

      1) As stated, OVERALL operational expenditures have been essentially FLAT. I quote the latest audited results from the county’s auditors and which include local, state and federal funds (from Robinson, Farmer, Cox Associates – the county auditors Financial Report for the year ended 6-30-2011):

      FISCAL YEAR EDUCATION –
      (Operational Portion)
      2005-2006 18,643,505
      2006-2007 19,688,323
      2007-2008 20,273,221
      2008-2009 20,593,066
      2009-2010 19,745,229
      2010-2011 19,753,538

      I repeat, operational funding has NOT decreased, but remained essentially flat. Unless of course, you, Mr. Pseudonym Witmark, intend to call the independent auditors liars.

      You speak of the fact that school staff, including teachers, have not received raises in 4 years. That is correct. In case you haven’t noticed, this nation is in a very severe economic downturn, with very high unemployment, where many have lost their jobs and can’t find work at all.

      As indicated in the article, teachers FTEs have NOT decreased in spite of the 7.2% decrease in the number of students, and as a result, the class sizes of our school division have NOT increased, but have DECREASED, due to the decrease in the number of students.

      Also, for your information, as of 2009 (the latest info available), the median income of an individual Clarke County resident was only $23,000. This is approximately half of the income currently earned by teachers (excluding their 30% additional benefits) and only about a third or a fourth of the income earned by our school administrators.

      However, I know that I am wasting my breath. You, Mr. Pseudonym Witmark, are not really interested in the facts, but only in your personal agenda. You can only be listed in the “DO NOT CONFUSE ME WITH THE FACTS, MY MIND IS MADE UP” list.

      Once again, if this county is to avoid the nasty confrontations of the past, this type of non-productive attack must cease. Times are tough for everyone.

      Only by working together will this county weather the rough period facing us. Divisiveness will only result in unnecessary and negative strife among our citizens.

      RRB

      • Elizabeth says:

        My daughter’s class sizes have gone up. She is in two classes of 30.

      • Tom Witmark says:

        Why does it matter to you that I may or may not be using a pseudonym?

        I am indeed concerned with the facts, Ms. Bouffault. The numbers I cite come directly from the budgets adopted DURING YOUR TENURE on the CCPS School Board, and which are archived on the CCPS website. “Operations” are indeed different from “capital” and “debt service” funds…which is why they are shown seperately. “Operations” covers the salaries of employees, supplies, fuel costs, etc. – for the things that make the schools run. This is entirely different from capital (building repairs and new construction, etc.). It appears that the numbers you cite include capital funds and debt service funds; I focused exclusively on the “School Operating Funds” covered by local sources. Yes, taxpayers ultimately do cover both sets of numbers, but to lump it all together and call it “operations” is not entirely accurate.

        But, for the sake of comity, I’ll play your game. Using the numbers you list above, for 2008-2009 thru 2010-2011, your own numbers show an aggregate DECREASE of $839,528…still not “$2 million” but hardly “essentially flat,” as you dismiss.

        Interestingly, you don’t cite the median household income, which for 2009 was $65,588. http://www.city-data.com/county/Clarke_County-VA.html

        And, according to the US Census report, last revised on 12/23/2011, the median per capita income is $32,083 (in 2009 dollars), some $9,000 more than you proffer. http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/51/51043.html

        • Mr Pseudonym Witmark –

          I would like to address your two questions in order:

          1) Yes, it does matter whether someone is willing to use their own name, or is hiding behind a pseudonym, which allows them to say whatever they like, including blatant lies, vicious attacks, and deliberate smear tactics to try and damage or destroy an individual or entity. Formerly, when you wrote a letter to a newspaper, they required you to state your name and address or they wouldn’t print it.

          Today, with anonymous blogs such as this one, some people are writing things they wouldn’t think of writing were their own true names attached to it. This enables them to avoid the risk of a lawsuit for libel – and unfortunately, as anonymous expression has grown in our country, civility and “polite discourse” have suffered proportionately.

          The resulting nastiness, viciousness and pure poison that we sometimes see, with the polarization of groups of individuals in this country has, I believe, been an increasingly destructive element in our country’s social fabric. We are seeing this destructive element more and more in our country’s national politics, which increasingly masks the true problems that lie underneath.

          So yes, I believe that it does make a difference whether or not you choose to use your own name.

          2) The numbers – you have quoted the latest two numbers from the U.S. Census correctly. However, they do not correspond to the personal MEDIAN income I was referring to. There is a difference between the PER CAPITA income (global revenues of all county citizens, including the 4 or 5 very wealthy ones, divided by the total number of residents), and the MEDIAN personal income, which as its’ name indicates, takes the median of the county’s income without the extremes.

          If you look at the details of the U.S. Census you quoted, you will find that yes, the Household MEDIAN income for 2009 was $65,636. However, if you divide that number by the “Persons per household” number of 2.59 that is on the line above it, you will see the result of $25,236, not $32,083. Confusing? Absolutely. One is median, and the other is ‘per capita’. But believe me, there is no ‘trickle-down” effect from the revenues of those few very wealthy.

          Trying to explain these apparent discrepancies, (including the different numbers found between the U.S. Census and the federal government’s own agency Bureau of Economic Analysis), can drive you crazy, however, the MEDIAN is the number used that best represents the majority of the population.

          RRB

          • Dust In The Wind says:

            Robina,
            Since you are well educated perhaps you have heard of this word.

            retribution

            We have opinions, and children in the system. This allows us to say what we feel without it being taken out on our kids

          • J. Gibson says:

            Your picking and choosing of which numbers to use is disingenuous. The state, when calculating a county’s “ability to pay,” considers all properties and people in the county, does it not? Which “4 or 5” wealthy folks did you exclude? Not sure why you felt the need to defend why there was “no ‘trickle-down’ effect from the revenues of those few very wealthy” folks…we already know this, since – thanks to conservation easements and generous land-use policies – many large estates in Clarke pay a pitance in taxes that regular home property owners do.

            No…you attempt to fog the issue by decrying smear tactics (that weren’t there) and using numbers that don’t reflect an accurate picture…

      • J. Gibson says:

        You’re giving a lecture on divisiveness and non-productive attacks? Really? That’s hysterical. From my perspective, the only one attacking someone and bein all shrill is you.

  4. Thanks, Mr.Witmark
    for the info….not much needs to be added to that

    As for “just the facts..PLEASE” you say the administration has failed, that is an opinion. I say the have been setup to fail and spread so thin that it is not possible for them to succeed.

  5. As a resident of Berryville that lives next to the new school, I must point out that Madame Bouffault on at least one occasion at an open meeting about the new school a few years ago insisted quite strongly that the buses and traffic would enter the County Fair side of the new building. This is not the case whatsoever. She either didnt know what was going on or intentionally lied to a room full of TAXPAYERS that were concerend about the new schools impact on the neighborhood. I dont know what’s worse, her being inept or an out an out liar. She clearly has what it takes to make it on Capitol Hill

    • Frodo –

      You are correct, but no, I am not a liar. The initial plan proposed called for the main entrance to the new high school to be from Main Street, with only an emergency entrance from the end of existing Mosby.

      This was changed against my recommendation by a 3-2 vote in the school board in 2009 – I continue to believe that the main entrance to the high school should have been from Main Street, and not from the end of the existing Mosby. Alas, politics intervened.

      RRB

      RRB

      • RRB,
        Given the importance of the issue, and also since most of us work for a living, I then conclude that you did not bother to inform us, OR have the Battlefield Estates Association follow through and inform us.. Clearly we are just at the bottom of the food chain and not worthy of an email, chain letter, newspaper ad, knock on the door, text, note on the door informing us of the impending vote. Yes, I am saying that it was your responsibility to keep the TAXPAYERS informed of upcoming important issues, and votes that pertain to those issues.
        You chose to let politics intervene, as you could have marshaled a whole lot of people to show up at the vote and place pressure on one of your colleagues.

        • That’s an odd reaction Mr Frodo.

          Ms Bouffault did not represent that district. It was represented by another, now former, School Board member who wholeheartedly endorsed the entire plan for Mosby while representing the sub-group of her constituents in Battlefield Estates.

          • That member you refer to basically did what she was told to by RRB

          • Wow you really don’t follow the School Board meetings do you?

            Robina voted against it and the board member in question voted for Mosby and to have the main entrance to the school on Mosby. So what you’re saying is that RRB puppeted a member to vote for the measure so she could vote against it?

            Wow what a conspiracy indeed.

          • Ummm…I think you’re mistakin her for the lady from Buckmarsh.

    • livein22611 says:

      Frodo–your complaints need to aimed at the town of Berryville. They dictated where buses can come in and out as well as the “much” needed Mosby extension. I’m worried about the increased traffic through Battlefield but the town didn’t seem to see it that way. Guess we’ll see what it’s like in September. Hopefully the police will be patroling our neighborhood.
      (Don’t we have an election coming soon????)

      • Yes, that is true. RRB deserves grief for this as well for no other reason other than the way she ran roughshod over this entire project while it was being developed. Instead of being a wise politician and UNITING people, she was a bully; Everything was her way or the highway. The town manager is well known for his double speak answering questions with paragraphs in town ordinances instead of getting to the “nitty gritty” as it were. Every single last one of them should be voted out of office and or fired for incompetence/malpractice. Everything about this school was “half-assed” from the land selection to the decision to purchase from Ketoctin Land Co. to the implementation. And the people who were inconvenienced the most are the ones that live next to that school, who are also taxpayers. Those home owners that are right next to the school might as well plan on staying there until they are carried out by the undertaker as no one in their right mind would buy those houses; “Home for sale, lovely parking lot view”!

      • I see WAY more residents of Mosby speeding along it and Jackson than I do construction workers…kinda ironic, in a way.

    • No we all have a couple of notorious members of the school board to thank for that stroke of genius, along with a very adamant member of the Town Council and the BADA.

      You and many other people were not paying attention when the school board voted on that amazing snafu.

      The purpose of Mosby was switched at VDOT the week after that decision. It’s reason for being was switched from “A major collector road” to “To provide a safe entrance to the high school”.

      Best little piece of misdirection perpetrated in the entire project. With several school board members just nodding their heads…

  6. footballfan says:

    Again all the talk of little money and budgets and taxes…..if Clarke County had a viable Commercial tax base we the taxpayers would not be footing the bill. I am tired of my sales taxes going to Frederick and Winchester or even WV. I know most of Clarke doesn’t want these stores, but a few good ones would be great.

    • Chick-Filet or Wendys by Food Lion would generate local tax revenue.

      • Those are some healthy alternatives, not.

        • Stonebroke says:

          Then go to the Farmers Market every week and make a salad for yourself. Maybe I don’t have the time and would rather have a Salad thru the Drive Thru. My health is not your concern when it comes to my opinion.

  7. Roscoe Evans says:

    If Clarke County had the demographic profile to support major retail or commercial enterprises, those businesses would locate here, regardless of the purported opposition of its governmental and social establishment.

    Georgetown University proved this point when it sued to overturn the opposition to its retreat center on the mountain. Clarke County settled the matter, rather than lose the litigation on its merits. More litigation by other proponents of development will follow when they find Clarke attractive for their purposes.

  8. Stonebroke says:

    Once again–no one is asking for major retail. Listen when people post.

  9. Roscoe Evans says:

    So, you don’t think MacD or Chick Filet are not major commercial establishments? Compared to what?

    All of these businesses have formulae to decide where they site their facilities. Clarke does not fit the the formulae. Don’t believe me? Open your eyes: there are no nationally known businesses in sight.

    My point is that when Clarke meets their formulae, these joints will litigate, if necessary, to overturn Clarke’s formal opposition to them; and they likely will quickly win their litigation, because Georgetown U. has proved that Clarke’s claim that it is only protecting agricultural values with its protectionist zoning and business policies is pretextual only.

    Personally, I really don’t care to see such change. But I dislike the perpetual whining about “why can’t we be like everybody else?” blah blah blah.

    I don’t “listen when people post” because I can read silently. You might try it. It will keep you from annoying the person sitting next to you.

  10. Stonebroke says:

    If you think McDonalds hasn’t attempted to locate in the Berryville/Clarke County area, your saddely mistaken! Open your eyes ! Subway is nationally known. (But only approved to enter Berryville because it went into an already built occupancy. If McDonalds came to Berryville for approval to one of their antique storefronts–it to would be allowed to come then–but only then! If they need to remove dirt and a few sticker bushes to build a McDonalds–then you can beat your bottom dollar that it will not be approved. It’s just how the good ole boys have developed things around this here area!

  11. Stonebroke says:

    Oh and 1 more thing– It is sad to think that McDonalds and Chic Filet is considered a Major commercial establishment. But of course were talking about Berryville now—yes if you compare it to Tastee Freeze or Janes Lunch then I guess it would be considered major. But in every other town across America it is just the norm.

  12. Roscoe Evans says:

    As Mrs. Evans tells me daily, I am mistaken, sadly, on many things.

    But you are mistaken, sir, in trying to tell me what I do or do not know. I know that the local McDonalds franchise holder was eager to set up shop near the western intersection of Rt 7 and Rt 7 business, 10 years ago, and was rebuffed. I am reasonably certain he has made additional efforts since then. So have others.

    I also know that property I once owned was plotted for development, only to have plans frustrated by the “good ole boys” and the restrictive town and county ordinances that purport to favor agricultural and similar values over the development business and infrastructure.

    But you seem to miss my point, which is this: property owners have the right to develop and improve their property, consistent with local land use laws. And if the laws are calculated to place unreasonable restrictions on development, owners are entitled to go to court and litigate their rights and have them expanded at the expense of those laws.

    Clarke’s preference for agricultural values is calculated to keep the price of farmland low, so farmers can buy it cheaply. When Clarke turned Georgetown U’s plans for a retreat center, citing these laws and values for its reason, Georgetown called its bluff and sued. The ultimate effect of that litigation would have been to show that Clarke’s statutes and values were unreasonable and fatally flawed; so Clarke settled the case, and Georgetown got its way.

    When they decide the market in Clarke is ripe for them, I know that developers will not sit on their hands and accept the frustrations foisted on them by the “good ole boys.” They will retain lawyers, who will strap on their hardware and file the same sorts of suits that Georgetown U. filed, and they will win.

    How does this fit in with the local schools and their financing?

    Clarke County and its citizens — citizens, not taxpayers — have the affirmative duty to educate their children. That duty derives from federal and state and local law. It is not delimited, as Ms. Bouffault would have you believe, by current economic hard times, or by the irrelevant financial “facts” that she cites. Building a high school and funding a school system is the responsibility of all citizens. Clarke is allowing its wealthiest citizens opt out of school funding by placing their property in scenic easements, and taking it off the tax rolls. Meanwhile, the balance of their property is taxed at lower rates because it purportedly is farmland. Right. Just like a local Supervisor can drive his truck all over Virginia without any tags, because it’s just engaged in “farm use.”

    Sorry, but I consider this situation phoney and irresponsible.

    But Ms. Bouffault seems to have convinced half the county that she has a valid contact with the Salvation Army (a church and a charity, mind you) for a gift of land to fund Clarke’s High School, and that the Army somehow hoodwinked her out of it, forcing the poor people of Clarke to tax themselves unreasonably, just to come up with an inadequate facility on a postage-stamp sized plot.

    Clearly, I am over-caffinated.

    But for today, at least, these are my facts and I am sticking to them.

    • Stonebroke says:

      Sorry you had to type all of that–My apologies! My disagreement was in your statement that these “so-called” Major businesses don’t find Clarke as a suitable place for their franchises—because I can guarantee you that every fast food chain ever in existence is just chomping at the bit to place their franchise up on the “hill”.

      • Mr Mister says:

        It’s amazing to me, Fly, that you would hi-jack a thread about school assessment to profess your love for the golden arches.

  13. RRB,
    Many people after they end a term of service to the public do so gracefully, yet even in your rebuttals to the anonymous you toss out “lawsuits”, etc. You are just proving your critics correct. You apparently aren’t wise enough to learn that if you can’t get ten people to agree where to go to eat a free dinner, then you certainly aren’t going to get a small town to just fall in line and agree with what seem to be, at best “odd” school board decisions.
    We aren’t all as smart as you are, but apparently we all have a bit more common sense, something that I hope is remembered in all future Clarke County elections.