Supervisors, School Board Opposed on Spending and Pay Increases

The Clarke County School Board formally presented its $24.9M budget request to the Board of Supervisors last night. The request includes $350K of additional funding over last year’s budget that the schools say is needed for operational and capital expenses as well as a “one-time” bonus for school staff. County Supervisors responded saying that the current county budget already includes a substantial increase for school and questioned the wisdom of providing a public employee a pay increase given the economic challenges facing the private sector of the economy.

Clarke County School Board Chairman Barbara Lee asks Supervisors for 2012 school budget increase - Photo Edward Leonard

“This is the fourth consecutive year of zero salary increases for our school staff” School Board chairperson Barbara Lee (Pine Grove) told the Supervisors. “Given the past budget challenges I believe with all of my heart that the School Board has fulfilled its duty to our students.  However, this year we need an additional $200K for operating expenses and an additional $150K for capital improvements.”

Clarke County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Michael Murphy took the podium after Lee and recapped the various funding and budgeting challenges that have been informally passed between the two governing bodies over the past weeks. Murphy quickly zeroed in on the difficulties being caused by declining student enrollments, a trend that appears destined to continue over the next several years.

“We’ve lost 66 kids this year alone” Murphy said. “45% went to neighboring counties, many due to family economic and employment reasons. At the same time 134 new students have walked through the doors since the first day of school. There’s an ebb and flow to our student population that is very difficult to predict.”

While CCPS’s overall student census has dropped, Murphy said that the decrease does not always translate into direct cost reductions. For example, the loss of several students from a specific grade level does not necessarily mean that a teacher is not still required to teach the remaining student in the class. Murphy said that a certain level of infrastructure must be maintained in order to support a school.

Murphy said that much of the school district’s funding goes directly into critically important areas that he described as the “Big 3”; textbooks, technology and testing.

“Testing is going to be very important in our future” Murphy told the Supervisors. “Principals and teacher’s jobs will soon be on the line as accountability moves from a school’s ‘average yearly progress’ to a more personal level where individual teachers and administrators begin to be held personally accountable.”

Murphy told the Supervisors that the combination of unfunded and under-funded state mandates combined with the cost of technology requirements and special education are draining the school district’s budget and its ability to provide quality education to students.

Murphy cited a recent Virginia Assembly unfunded mandate example where students from kindergarten through eighth grade now must receive an average of at least 150 minutes of PE per week, or an average of a half-hour a day. The legislation takes effect in the 2014-15 school year.

“Physical education is great but either the state or the locality has to pay for a teacher to provide it or the School board is faced with eliminating elective teachers in art, music or some other area.”

Murphy also said that lack of school funding is causing basic services like student transportation to suffer.

“We’ve had discussions with Loudoun County about purchasing two of their used school buses” Murphy said. “We really don’t want to have to do that but their used buses are better than what we are using today for our students.”

Murphy told the Supervisors that overall his budget includes only  a minimal increase for operating expenses and basic capital funding necessary to keep the school district moving in the right direction. Murphy said that part of the formula for keeping the district moving in the right direction includes a pay increase for school staff.

Dr. Murphy told the supervisors that a 1% bonus for school staff will cost approximately $130K.

“We have some employees who make a lot of money and we have some employees who only make $13K a year” Murphy said. “We need to do what we can to compensate them because they are all very dedicated and take very good care of our kids.”

After listening to the school budget presentation, the Supervisors offered a somber and pragmatic response on the economic realities facing the county.

CCPS Superintendent Dr. Michael Murphy defends his budget before the Clarke County Board of Supervisors - Photo Edward Leonard

“The fact that we correctly estimated the number of students dropping to 675 re-enforces our decision to have built the high school for 800 students” said Supervisor John Staelin (Millwood).   Joint Administrative Services director Tom Judge confirmed that the population decline appears to be an ongoing trend. Murphy said that the school district had been shocked to see the small size of this year’s Kindergarten enrollment and has since implemented plans to decrease two teaching positions at the elementary school level.

Staelin pointed out that Clarke County students are funded at $12,394 per student.

“It’s important for people to realize that that is a large amount of money” Staelin said. “The local portion is 13% and represents a big per pupil increase.” Staelin said that local education funding had increased in the proposed budget by 6.9% over last year although he acknowledged that the bulk of the increase is in debt service payments for the new school.

The Supervisors also expressed skepticism over the wisdom of offering bonuses to school employees given the current unpredictability of state funding for education support.

“If you do decide to provide a bonus I hope that your focus is on the employees who are just getting by” Staelin said. “By providing a salary adjustment you will be putting pressure on us to do something for county staff as well. County employees will look at the school district and ask why something isn’t being done for county government.”

Supervisor Staelin pointed out that the school district’s funding appears to be headed for an even deeper deficit next year. Of the nearly $10M in state and federal contribution to school funding for FY 2012, $375K will come from federal “Jobs” funding while $315K is money contributed by the Virginia Retirement System, both “one-time” contributions. In addition, $400K of the budget is comprised of carry-over funding from last year.

“That’s a big chunk of money” Supervisor Staelin noted. “That’s exactly why we always say that carry-over funds should only be used for one-time expenditures.”

Supervisor Chairman Michael Hobert (Berryville) followed Staelin’s lead by asking Superintendent Murphy to justify increased spending in the current fiscal environment.

“Given so much pressure on funding in a year from now, what is your rational for doing it this way?” Hobert asked.

“Right now I am doing the best that I can to provide a quality education this year” Murphy replied. “We can’t forecast the impact of new unfunded mandates or changes in the sales tax let alone the economy. We just want to do the best that we can for kids today and in fiscal year 2012. We can only take one year at a time and know that there will be hard choices to make every year.”

“I hope that you will think about that at every school board meeting that you have” Chairman Hobert replied.

Supervisor David Weiss (Buckmarsh) said that while he understood the sentiment that teachers deserve pay raises, Weiss noted that many people in the private sector are in the same position.

“I appreciate all of the difficult cuts that you’ve made and we are all very aware of the problems that you face. However, I’m not sure that public employees should be getting a raise when most people in the private sector aren’t either” Weiss said. “$130K is a lot of money that you could be using for other things.”

“Next year will be as bad, or worse, than this year” Supervisor Staelin added. “Real estate tax revenue has a huge lag before it ever gets to the county treasurer. Building permitting and construction takes two years before tax revenues come in. We see nothing in the county right now that indicates that the real estate picture is changing. Funding from real estate will stay flat for the foreseeable future.”

“To be clear, you have not committed to a bonus for employees?” Hobert asked. “Is that correct?”

“That is correct” Murphy responded. “We have only had a conversation about a bonus.”

But despite the cautious economic approach urged by the Supervisors, last night’s discussion did not sway School Board officials from their intentions to provide school staff with some form of compensation, even if only a token amount.

“I don’t know how much it is going to be but we are committed to providing something” School Board chairperson Barbara Lee (Pine Grove) said after the meeting. “Even if it is only a small amount we want to show that we really care about what teachers are doing for students. I just remember how much it meant to me when I was a teacher to know that people cared about what I was doing. Four years is way too long to go without a pay raise.”

“This board has had no discussions about giving bonuses to county employees” John Staelin said after the meeting. “If the schools do this it will put pressure on us to do the same thing. If they are going to use the money that way I would recommend that they divide it among the teachers that have the most direct contact with students.”

Asked if he believed that the school district should hold off on a bonus for school staff because of the salary increase implications for county employees Dr. Murphy responded:

“Equity in work force pay is important. I believe that the county and the school board have an obligation to ensure that all employees are adequately compensated and receive appropriate benefits as public servants.”

Supervisors Barbara Byrd (Berryville) and Pete Dunning (White Post) were not present for last night’s discussion.

Comments

  1. DAWN PRICE says:

    OUR TEACHERS DESERVE A RAISE! THIS HAS BEEN THE BEST YEAR OF SCHOOL FOR MY 2 CHILDREN 1 IN COOLEY AND 1 IN JWMS.. I AM PLEASED WITH THE CHANGE AT COOLEY JOB WELL DONE . TAKE THE CARS AWAY FORM EMPLOYEES LET THEM PAY FOR THEIR OWN GAS JUST LIKE WE DO .. FIND A WAY TO SUPORT OUR TEACHERS THEY ARE NOT A BABYSITTER. GOOD JOB CLARKE CO.. SCHOOL TEACHERS .. I BELIVE IN YOU

    • Skeptic says:

      “I hope that you will think about that at every school board meeting that you have” Chairman Hobert replied.

      Hey Mike Hobert, just a little arrogant don’t you think?

  2. Dmaxnjackson says:

    Go ahead Board of Supervisors, keep running this county the way you are. Pretty soon the only thing going to be left is you and your good ole boy network. You people dont want anybody moving into your county,or any economic growth at all. I soon will be one of the many leaving this county.

  3. “questioned the wisdom of providing a public employee a pay increase given the economic challenges facing the private sector of the economy.”

    – Yeah, well the private sector doesnt teach our children. This is a nonsense statement. Do you think parents (the private sector) would cry foul, revolt, or protest over providing a bonus to our teachers? Poor Excuse, Bad Logic.

  4. “…Supervisors Barbara Byrd (Berryville) and Pete Dunning (White Post) were not present for last night’s discussion…”

    Oh how convenient for them. All the Supervisors are doing is playing a numbers game while our children will be the ones who lose.

  5. dontaskme says:

    “We’ve had discussions with Loudoun County about purchasing two of their used school buses” Murphy said. “We really don’t want to have to do that but their used buses are better than what we are using today for our students.”

    I can’t believe this. a county buying surplus buses from another. that is truly low. Also, who cares if the the school board sets a precedent that might make the BOS squirm (see quotes in story about how the BOS did not want to have to give a “bonus” to their employees if the SB did). Can’t wait to vote in the next BOS/SB elections. I say out with them all.

    • The buses are not surplus. They are deemed too old to provide cost effective, safe, and reliable transportation for their children. They are buying new busses and putting these out-of-service. They are looking for a cheapscape county to buy them.
      Lucky for them they have one right next door.

  6. DAWN PRICE says:

    “We really don’t want to have to do that but their used buses are better than what we are using today for our students.” that is not good to hear if your child rides the bus !!!!

  7. Travis Goodwin says:

    If the schools had a carryover, chances are that the county side did, too, or else there wouldn’t be $14.1 million in the undesignated fund balance. So…the Supervisors are miserly and don’t want to offer their hard-working employees a “one time” bonus like the forward-thinking superintendent does for the school staff? Guess that shows the county employees how they rate, eh?

    It’s a one-time bonus, at a time when costs are going up and – in reality – a lot of “private sector” companies are awarding bonuses, the stock market is back up at or over 12,000 points, and so forth. For the supervisors to scold the school board like the old curmudgeon scolded Oliver asking for more gruel is sadly laughable.

  8. Just Curious says:

    When is Clarke County going to wake up and vote these Dinosaurs off the BOS??? I would love to know who votes these people in every term? People, get out there and vote in the next election cycle and let your voice be heard…… Enough is enough…. I hear that with Dunning leaving, he has groomed another guy to say No in his place……

    • Those the work and pay the bills like my myself keep voting them in. You are not entitled to enslave me and take all of my labor.

      • My 2 Cents... says:

        Steve what are you talking about? Enslaving you and taking your labor????? I think your post speaks volumes to actual problem here…. You just keep voting for these old fogey’s to protect you… You obviously must own a farm or some piece of land, and the BOS has your back….. lol

        • Nancy Martin says:

          Sounds like a farm manager to me. Enslaved? Take all of my labor? What year is this?

        • Yeppers says:

          I think what Steve is saying, is stop spending his hard earned money on your little brats. “You must own…some piece of land”, so what if he does? You must not. All of this money must come from somewhere and usually is not from the people popping out kids like they are doing the world a favor replicating themselves. It comes from people who work hard to build businesses and farms and homesteads.

          I think purchasing a used school buses from Loundon County is a great idea. I went to school on a POS bus that was at least 20 years old, and it didnt affect my education one bit.

          If you dont like it, drive your kid to school.

          • Part of being a citizen of the United States is paying taxes. Some of these taxes go towards services that you may not use personally, but provide for the general good of the country.

            Public education is one of those things. Everyone pays, regardless if they have children taking advantage of the service or not.

            The same goes for our military. I hope you and Steve don’t think that is an uneccessary service.

          • I believe it is necessary. It benefits society as whole to have an educated populace. You either pay now, or pay later. That said the inverse relationship between fertility and intelligence is going to be the root cause of the worlds demise.

            I just disagree with HOW the money is spent. We seem to be spending (as a country) an increasing amount per student and ending up worse off than before.

            Clarke County wise, I love this place. I think taxes are still very reasonable, but we have to be careful to avoid the trappings that have ruined so many counties like this.

            The rise of the two income household as a necessity is probably to blame in a lot of ways, but thats a another pot to stir.

          • Travis Goodwin says:

            Your flippant dismissal is both laughably shallow-minded and trite. It is encumbent upon the entire community to ensure the best education possible is afforded its children. If schools were able to levy their own revenue sources, or bill parents individually, then you’d see some different funding scenarios come to be. However, since a “free and appropriate education” is mandated by the Virginia constitution, the costs of that education are shared by the state and the community (of which you are a part).

            What others are saying is – why should this community settle for less-than-average? Are not our kids worth at least average? The one-time payment would be just that – a one time payment. If the supervisors, thru the county administrator, don’t want to reward their hard-working employees, why should the School Board be criticized for wanting to do so for their emnployees who’ve not had raises for at least 3 years.

  9. Stonebroke says:

    We will come together before the next term is elected into office—we will use this forum to pick our next board. We can overcome this debacle—We will work together to make this happen. I vote RightWinger the head of this campaign—do you accept. You can do all the background checks on any candidates that might be running and together we will make a change! WE CAN DO THIS!

    • While I do not accept heading any campaign, I will gladly provide any info I am able to glean on any of the candidates in order for folks to make an informed decision. It’s time for all political parties, local and national, to lay down their rhetoric and do what’s right for their constituents and not just the special interest groups.

  10. Weiss uses a very convenient argument, ignoring the fact that a middle-manager at XYZ Co.’s contribution to and impact on the County’s children/future isn’t quite the same as that of an educator.

    Let’s assume though that he believes them to be equal…. was the County passing out bonuses to teachers back in, say, 2000 when private sector employees were doing well?

    Would parents as a whole support bonuses or raises for teachers? Probably… until you mention that pesky “tax” word. And the age demographics for the County make it an uphill battle – older folks (there’s a lot of them in CC) with no kids in school are very susceptible to the “beware the tax boogeyman” approach that certain political leaders rely on to get elected. Sadly, because of this it’s probably unlikely that a referendum could be offered up that would have any real chance of being approved.

    What’s needed is a way to show all the citizens of CC the value of good educational facilities and staff, which would require a concerted effort by the BoS and SB. (To borrow from Weiss’s friends in the public sector – a value proposition and ROI calculation that even the County’s most cynical or dimwitted can understand).

    Change is the only solution – make your district’s candidate for office this November go on the record (and not in generalizations) with their plan for the education of our children and hold them to it.

    • onceandawhile says:

      Well, good luck fighting the “gentry”!

      If you don’t have a park, bridge, stadium, etc named after your family OR you don’t have a conservation easement or USDA grant in Clarke County; don’t waste your time.

      As to BillN-he had it mostly right, except there is no ROI for education here unless you support Ag. I noticed World Language teachers were the first to be cut
      above Ag. Someone has to learn how to mow and bail the hay-right? There is no ROI for a bright and educated youth to retun to CC. Where does a graduate of Duke or William and Mary work in Clarke County?

      • Nancy Martin says:

        You make an excellent point. And, in reality, the offspring of these “gentry” contribute very little, to this county or beyond. The well does run dry; trust funds only go so far. At some point, you have to produce and add to the economy rather than consume. And that is not indictmint of the latest “gentry” generation. It can’t be fun to have a top-notch pedigree and education and no training or expectations in making a living for yourself.

    • Of course the parents in the school system could always open up their wallets and freely contribute more money towards the education of their children.

      I am wondering what is stopping all these whining parents from doing so?

      • Fly on the wall says:

        Your snarky, elitist tripe (draped in libertarian bunting) is both laughable and shallow-minded. The state constitution requires the state AND localities to fund public education, so – guess what? – you’re a part of the locality and thus your taxes help cover part of those costs. You presume that parents of schoolchildren don’t pay more for their kids to participate in school. I assure you, we do – through fees for sports, or band costs, or workbooks, or dual-enrollment tuition costs, etc. Add in fundraisers, book fairs, and so forth, and – yes – we parents do pony up more because our kids are in the schools.

        Come down off your high and mighty soapbox.

      • My 2 Cents... says:

        Because they aren’t supposed too. Did your parents pay for your education? Did you pay for your kids if they went to Public School? Come on man.

      • Unwelcome Outsider says:

        Over the last few years I have contributed a considerable 4-figure sum to the school system, above and beyond what normally comes from my taxes.

        Believe me, if I could afford to give the teachers their bonuses out of my own pocket, I’d do it. But alas, we’re not one of the local elitists living off of old family money, just a regular, dual-income household trying to make ends meet.

  11. Want to make a difference? Get involved with local politics and participate in the nomination of local candidates for BOS. Clarke Republicans can be found at http://www.clarkegop.com and the Democrats at http://clarkecountydems.blogspot.com/

    They have meetings at least once a month.

    • StoneBroke says:

      We will make a difference—-Right Winger?

    • Sadly, from what I’ve been able to gather, aligning oneself with either of the “established” parties in CC is unlikely to produce any significant positive results. They spend too much time regurgitating their federal party lines, ignoring the fact that national initiatives and local issues are not one in the same.

  12. virginiacop says:

    I have four children in Clarke schools.

    I’ve been a police officer for a long time and I haven’t had a raise in four years either. But I also haven’t lost my job or had my income cut.

    Thank you BOS.

  13. Jim Gibson says:

    The simple facts are these:
    (A) Any potential “bonus” for school employees is contingent on numbers from the state AND the supervisors allowing the carryover from FY09 (2 FYs ago!) to remain in place with the schools for capital projects;

    (B) Said bonuses are, indeed, a one-time expenditure; they do nothing to the salary scale. Rather, it is a small gesture of gratitude to those professionals who work with my kids and all the others every day and deal with a host of headache-inducing requirements, mandates, regulations, and so on.

    (C) It is unfortunate that more teaching positions will have to be cut to accommodate this budget.

    (D) It is encumbent upon the supervisors merely to appropriate money to the School Board; they do not have the legal authority to prescribe how it is spent. Particularly when the quibble is over FY09 dollars that were already appropriated and somehow mysteriously weren’t spent in FY09.

    The larger issue is that, once again, the schools are facing “doing more with less.” Less staff, less resources…yet the expectations are only getting higher and bring more pressure. At some point, the good people of CC need to ask themselves – “What sort of investment in our future, in our kids, do we really want to make?”

  14. Nancy Martin says:

    I will be so relieved when the BOS includes someone other than old white guys. I used to think that someone was Mr. Hobert. Oh, for some Grecian Formula for the soul.

    • Fly Swatter says:

      Why does it matter the color of one’s skin and age? Removing a white guy will provide you relief? Nice standards – credibility fail – of course you are a……Nancy.

    • Fly on the wall says:

      Ummm…Mrs. Byrd doesn’t fit your descriptor, and I’d wager that Weiss or Hobert would disagree that they’re “old.”

  15. Nancy Martin says:

    “Murphy said that much of the school district’s funding goes directly into critically important areas that he described as the “Big 3”; textbooks, technology and testing”
    Textbooks: nobody uses them. Just check the paper copiers’ output in each school. Plus, many school districts (read Loudoun) are already setting dates for switching to electronic versions)

    Comment: Are we sure textbooks are the best use of our money?

    Technology: everybody uses it. Just ask the kids.
    Comment: Can any one envision using less of it in the future? Don’t we need to address and educate the reality of our students’ time use? Prepare them for “real life” which relies heavily on internet and software savvy?
    Testing: Useful to no one. Except the test producing/scoring companies (see textbooks reference above…)
    Comment: Is testing something that should be (at least) partially funded by the people who benefit financially from it? Could there be another agenda here?

    • Mimi Stein says:

      The testing being talked about (primarily the SOL’s) is a State and Federal mandate; the School Board has no discretion over it. The State Attorney General has recently opined that school systems cannot pass AP testing fees on to parents, so either the school system pays for AP tests or they don’t offer them. I would think that the AG’s opinion applies to other similar testing.

      Education is expensive, but the per pupil spending listed in the article ($12,394) is only slightly lower than the Fairfax County figure ($12,898)and higher than the per pupil spend in both Loudoun and Prince William Counties (see the Washington Area Boards of Education report for 2010 http://www.scribd.com/doc/23329528/Washington-Area-Boards-of-Education-FY-2010-WABE-Guide).

      As an earlier poster wrote, the BOS only determines the local tax appropriation for the school system — how those funds are spent is solely at the discretion of the School Board. Based on the comparables, I don’t see a need to increase the funding so much as a need for the School Board to reallocate the funding it receives.

      • Mr. Staelin always likes to lump capital projects into his $12,394 number for per pupil spending in Clarke County. That is not the standard used in any report or by any other county. Per pupil spending is always measured from the operating budget – except in Clarke where the true spend per pupil in in the botton 20% of counties statewide.

        Never take what he says at face value. He’s good at twisting facts.

    • Fly on the wall says:

      Until the law of the land handed down from DC and Richmond is rewritten to remove the stringent testing requirements, testing (and its requisite costs) will always be a part of the discussion?

      Textbooks: eTexts are great, but only IF the division has the resources (Kindles, Nooks, or other similar eReader device) and the tech infrastructure (secure network for downloads, availability of secure, high-speed Internet access throughout the community, etc.) to fully utilize them. Until those conditinos are met in bucolic CC, textbooks need to be purchased and kept up-to-date.

    • Elizabeth says:

      The reason many textbooks are not used is because they are so out of date and are in bad physical shape. Texts from the 90’s that reference things that no longer exist just make students think the books are worthless. They may be right.

    • Reality Check says:

      Just a thought, consider the county’s infrastructure and internet options and you will realize that we will be using textbooks for a long time because all of the students do not have this technology at home. So we will not be able to go to electronic versions like Loudoun for a long time. Looking at the high numbers for the copiers’ output are a result of trying to diversify what students are getting along with their textbooks.

      • No, the copier output is a refusal to use or buy grade level texbooks/workbooks.

        Copied materials do not supplant the textbooks; they replace them. Try looking in your kid’s backpack…..do you see workbooks ( based upon textbooks) or supplementals?

        Badly copied supplementals?

  16. I see a lot of complaining here, but not many answers.

    The simple fact of the matter is that if you want to keep Clarke the way it is, meaning a patch of green in an ever expanding landscape of DC subdivisions, there is going to be limited money with which to do things, like pay teachers on a Loudon pay scale.

    I commend the county for long ago figuring out that housing, for all it’ s touted benefits, is a net drain to the tax base. Frederick county is figuring that out the hard way right now.

    The way I see it, there are four choices.

    A) Leave things the way they are and accept that there will not be enough money to compete with neighboring county pay scales etc

    B) Allow a small amount of development via some franchise companies will help with the tax base some, but will not contribute enough for large projects

    C) Start the slippery slope of allowing Loudon/Frederick county type developement via chain stores etc

    or

    D) Raise taxes if everyone wnat to have their cake and eat it too

    Anyone see an other solutions?

    • Fly on the wall says:

      Sarge, again you missed the point of the budget request. There is no plan to give an “ongoing” salary raise to any school employees. The plan is to offer a ONE-TIME bonus to employees IF the state provides sufficient extra revenue AND the supervisors allow the $489K in FY09 carryover to be used for school capital needs (buses, technology, etc.). If those two things don’t happen, it will be nigh on impossible to do any sort of “1%-2%” bonus for employees.

      There’s no way that CC can hope to compete on a dollar-for-dollar basis with Loudoun. However, if some things aren’t addressed, then CC will become a training ground for neighboring jurisdictions once hiring opens back up.

      • “…then CC will become a training ground for neighboring jurisdictions once hiring opens back up…”

        That’s exactly what the BOS wants.

      • I understood the article fine Fly. It’s just that it invariably leads back to the age old question, what do we want Clarke to look like and how do we want to get there?

        • Fly on the wall says:

          If the discussion were about ongoing funding enhancements, salary raises, and so forth…then, yes, you are correct. This is about a one-time bonus, and the supervisors exceeding their statutory authority by prescribing how money should be spent by the School Board.

    • Yeppers says:

      Sarge, Spot on my friend. I moved here five years ago specifically to get away from Fairfax county and suburban sprawl. I dont have a lot of money, but I bought a small piece of land with an old house and I am working to improve it. I also donate a lot of my time to try and improve my neighborhood. I donate my business services to Clarke county when possible to try and keep down taxes.

      Point is if Clarke County can hold fast against the trend to become another endless strip mall and Toll Brothers farm, it will pay off in the end. Clarke county now, looks a lot like Great Falls / Mclean in the early eighties. The sprawl went around / not through because they would not allow the development (or sewer / water) the other areas welcomed. That had the long term effect of dramatically increasing the tax base and resulted in a very nice place to live.

      Regarding the teachers and county workers. I can understand not including a pay raise or bonus in the budget. That does not mean no one appreciates the work they do. I say next time the county sends out tax bills, just add a check box to donate $20 or $50 to a fund that would be used to provide bonuses to all county staff. I would throw a fifty spot in the pot. You would probably be surprised at how many people would chip in. One of the best parts of living in this county is going to B Ville and being able to talk to the Sheriff or the Treasurer, no hassles. Try that in Fairfax County.

  17. I tried to rally folks two years ago to replace the board of stupidvisors. Instead we replaced the school board. Until the chairmanship of the new school board changed and few quit they got nowhere. Jackson is correct the BOS will soon tax most everyone out of the county. I feel teachers,law enfocement and fire fighters should be at the top of the salary tree. Not lawyers or government officals. The county has to find a way to allow and attract new business for the county. We need places to work and shop in the county. I often wonder what percentage of working folks in Clarke leave the county for their job. I am pretty sure what precentage leave to shop. For there is no place in the county to buy much of anything. Unless your looking to feed your face. VOTE OUT YOUR SUPERVISOR NEXT ELECTION!!!!! RUN AGAIN MR. BELL