Superintendent Mark Taylor released the following message shortly after 4pm on April 5th. https://www.spotsylvania.k12.va.us/page/superintendent-sidebar
Dear SCPS community members,
As the local school division, we are presenting our cause to the county citizens and taxpayers concerning our urgent need for $19 million in new local money for FY ‘24. This needed money will fund the first year of a three-year plan to improve our compliance and compensation problems and address other urgent needs. We cannot succeed without this money. Our success or failure is in the hands of the Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors.
Our School Division leadership has changed in the past year. There is a new majority on the school board and a new superintendent. We inherited a mess. We inherited lost or hidden positions. We inherited staff working without job descriptions. We inherited staff in one department being paid out of the budget of another. We inherited habitual budgeting for basic needs (like electricity and healthcare) millions of dollars below their actual cost. We inherited poor performance in special education compliance. We inherited years of efforts to maintain appearances at all costs. This is reality.
In 2019, we spent $1.2 million on a beautiful blue football field and scored in the low 40s on special education compliance. The mantra of the past was “Keep the surface beautiful; don’t look too deeply into the substance.” If this seems harsh, consider that when the prior superintendent was ousted, several key staff leaders quit and left no records behind. They hid their actions. They covered their tracks. That was our inheritance.
The new school board and the new superintendent are determined to face the facts and fix the problems. We are making changes. The maintenance department’s reorganization is getting rave reviews. Sexually explicit materials that cannot be access-controlled are being removed. Procurement practices are being reconsidered and improved. We are moving forward.
The big lie is that we don’t know what we are doing. The big truth is that some fight the changes because life was easier when we kept up appearances and avoided hard truths. We must improve special education and other compliance issues, but we cannot do this without additional funding. We must keep the lights on, but we cannot do this without additional funding. We must increase pay and maintain benefits in order to maintain and recruit needed staff, but we cannot do this without additional funding. We must fix the internal problems we inherited and improve for the future, but we cannot do this without additional funding.
We know that funding our $19 million will be hard. However, this is the sad truth. Our school division needs are real. Our need is cut to the bone. Our need is not inflated. We asked respectfully for $21.84 million. We told the Board of Supervisors that we could move forward with new local funding of $19 million.
County leaders arranged the county’s proposed budget to blame any tax increase on the school division. The county’s projected revenue increases were used to meet other needs first, leaving the schools for last. This has been Spotsylvania County’s destructive habit. The county budgeted all of the new county revenue increase for itself and left the schools for last.
It is not for the school division to say where the money must come from. That is a decision for the Board of Supervisors. The county could cut other spending. The county could raise taxes to generate additional revenue.
Spotsylvania County Public Schools needs $19 million in new local money for FY 2024.
If you want this need to be met, your county supervisor needs to know. Now is the time to reach out. The Board of Supervisors meets tomorrow at 6 p.m. and may make decisions on these issues at the meeting. Message them all at: BOS@Spotsylvania.va.us
Mark B. Taylor