March 4, 2013 — Today’s Fredericksburg Freelance Star has a piece on Dawn Shelley, Republican on the Spotyslvania County School Board, asking the Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors for more money in the upcoming budget. Going further, she asked the public to “beg” for more money. As we know, that Board is now run by a Republican majority that ran on the same ticket with Shelley…. This will be interesting to watch.
Shelley was responding to the budget proposed by Spotsylvania County Administrator Doug Barnes, who was given instructions by his Republican Board not to raise taxes. In order to do that, Barnes’s proposed budget recommends a school budget $7 million less than what the School Board requested.
To make things more interesting, the Republican Board of Supervisors imposed categorical funding on the schools last year, which means that they have the authority to fund school programs they deem important and cut those they don’t. According to a member of the School Board, this has reportedly outraged them – although you’d never know it because they have been extremely silent – because they have the Constitutional authority to manage those funds. This can and will be debated – and has been in years past – but the fact of the matter is that most residents believe that the School Board is the elected body responsible for schools, including the management of their budget. Like Supervisors, School Board members are elected by the people to manage our schools, and they can be held accountable. Pretty simple proposition.
But, what makes the pleas by Shelley interesting is that in the 2011 elections, she sought, and received, the endorsement of the Spotsylvania Republican Committee. In doing that, she ran on a ticket who ran on a platform and promise to cut taxes while fully funding education and strengthening public safety. So, if they promised these things, especially the full funding of education, then why ask the public to “beg” for something they said they would do?
Again, elections matter. Promises matter. Honesty and integrity matter. Will the people of Spotyslvania County remind Shelley and her Republican allies of their promises? And if they break those promises, will the people hold them accountable? Perhaps, but only if the people are reminded; but unfortunately, there is no real reporting in the local paper, and no real loyal opposition in the County keeping people informed.
To fill that vacuum, I created this blog, and it is my hope that through this, we can leverage our voices to keep facts alive and keep our elected officials honest.