- Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 September 2010 15:18
- Published on Wednesday, 29 September 2010 15:18
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Says School Board needs to first make decisions on use of school buildings
The King George Board of Supervisors last week nixed a request for an additional joint meeting with the School Board prior to the next quarterly meeting expected to take place in November or December.
That discussion took place at last week’s meeting on Sept. 21, with Chairman Dale Sisson and Supervisor John LoBuglio the most vocal about postponing a requested meeting with the School Board until that body decides what it wants to do with the former middle school, old King George Elementary School (OKGES, also known as the current School Board office) and renovations at Potomac Elementary School (PES).
School Board members had decided at a Sept. 13 meeting they wanted to again bring the supervisors into their long-running discussion about what to do with some of their school buildings.
A decision about what to do with the former middle school building has been under discussion by the School Board for more than five years.
Since at least May 2005, the School Board has been talking about what use to put that building to once a new high school opened.
The School Board had initially decided it would turn the building over to the county for its use. But that changed in October 2008, when the two boards held a joint meeting and the School Board said it was critical for them to keep the building and use it as an intermediate school after middle school students vacated it in June 2009.
But three months later, by December 2008, the School Board made an about-face and voted to postpone that plan.
The former middle school building was instead ceremonially closed and shuttered six months later, at the end of the school year in June 2009.
It remains closed.
Supervisors now refuse to again be drawn into that decision-making that legally should be done by the School Board.
The current discussion for use of the school is to lease it out for training by a Navy group or other government entity or contractor firm.
Or, instead, to actually use it as a intermediates school for fifth and sixth grades, or maybe as an elementary school, with or without an addition to perhaps be constructed.
REQUEST FOR JOINT MEETING CONVEYED BY BROWN
At last week’s meeting, supervisors had been provided the latest request conveyed from the School Board in its attempt to draw the governing body into its eternal, internal debate over what to do with the middle school, under the guise of a joint get-together to discuss “long-term school planning issues.”
County Administrator Travis Quesenberry had e-mailed Superintendent Candace Brown back asking for more information.
Brown stated in her reply e-mail: “The SB wants to have a discussion among themselves as to the direction they want to take in the future re facilities. They then want to share that with the BOS and get their input/reaction. (Intermediate school – use of OKGES – option for PES, etc.)”
Chairman Dale Sisson said: “I’m a little uncomfortable with this topic. It’s one we certainly can address when we have our quarterly meeting. But first the School Board needs to pull together this position that they are talking about discussing.”
Sisson added, “But jointly addressing that — I’m not clear that’s a role we should be playing. My recommendation at this time would be that we stick with our quarterly schedule with certainly an open invitation for the School Board to present at this meeting any position or findings or new recommendations that they would like to pursue. That’s really the appropriate forum for that to happen, in my opinion.”
Supervisor John LoBuglio agreed, saying, “Yes, and I would like to add to that, too, maybe if they would like to give us a preliminary draft on their feelings for us to look into, you know, a week or so in advance of when we do have a scheduled meeting, so that we can think about our positions on exactly where they may be coming from and that. I think that would be good.”
Sisson restated: “I would just like to reiterate the point about having an open forum here to present at our televised board meetings would be a very appropriate forum for them to come bring this kind of information to us. And that would set the stage for a productive discussion at our next quarterly meeting.”
Supervisor Cedell Brooks provided his interpretation, saying he thought it was “just communication — it’s like we’re going to talk about this and we want you all to be involved.”
Sisson responded: “My point is that until they structure their position, we don’t have a role in discussing that. So as a board, they have got to form their position. Otherwise, it’s just five board members getting together with five board members, and we can talk all night without resolution of anything.”
Sisson added: “So that’s my recommendation that they get their position straight amongst their board, come to consensus among their board, and present that to us. OK, ‘here’s where we stand.’ And then we can entertain a discussion about how we can help them achieve that position, or what that means to us and all those things.”
LoBuglio said he agreed, adding: “Otherwise we are spending too much valuable time getting to their position and where they are coming from. And if they can do that in advance, then the meat of our meetings will be on the communication, OK, exactly where they’re standing, and we’ve already been able to discern that ahead of time so the real discussion can be our differences and how we can address them.”
Sisson got to the crux of the matter, stating: “We have different roles. There is one governing body, that’s this body. And there is a body that operates our educational system, that’s the School Board. So we’ll bring those thoughts together and develop a plan. But without a position, it’s hard to develop a plan to get there.”
He added that both boards could start looking at dates for the next quarterly meeting later in the year. He added, “But I’d still like to get the message back to Dr. Brown and the School Board that it would be very appropriate for them to develop their position and deliver that in a public presentation to the Board of Supervisors.”