March 16, 2018
Crowd implores supervisors to fully fund school budget
We are activists. We will raise money to support supervisors who will support education.
— Henry Lavine, Rectortown
They put Fauquier’s board of supervisors on notice Thursday night.
Throughout a three-hour public hearing on Fauquier County’s fiscal 2019 spending plan Thursday night, students, teachers and parents demanded the supervisors fund the school system’s budget request for $6 million more in local money.
Among other things, they want more modern school buildings, better technology and increased pay for teachers.
County Administrator Paul McCulla’s fiscal 2019 budget plan would give the school system $3 million more than this year — half the increase that Superintendent David Jeck requested. Dr. Jeck’s plan totals $144.5 million.
Using social media, email and meetings, the superintendent and his staff encouraged students, parents and faculty to attend Thursday’s hearing at Fauquier High School’s 1,200-seat auditorium. That strategy apparently worked.
About 300 people attended, representing the largest turnout for a county budget hearing in a decade.
Of the 67 speakers, 51 focused on school issues.
Without full funding of the budget request, Fauquier’s schools would fail its students and lose talented teachers who seek higher paying jobs in counties to the east, they warned the supervisors.
“We’re the future of the world,” Taylor Middle School student Quasim Ali said.
Fauquier schools could produce the next Bill Gates, Quasim told the supervisors.
But, “without your funding, we will never know,” he added.
Taylor student Emma Dyerholm complained the supervisors over the years have increased funding for county government agencies at the expense of the school system.
“They don’t get what they deserve,” Emma said of Fauquier’s 20 schools.
“Live up to your responsibility” and back the school budget, she said.
One after another, students described teachers as “heroes.”
More than educators, teachers also coach sports, sponsor clubs and supervise school events, the students said.
Working long hours, including weekends, teachers sometimes take second jobs to make ends meet, others told the supervisors.
“Our teachers exude excellence,” said Harper Carter, a junior at Kettle Run High School. “They go above and beyond each day.”
Taylor Middle School student Oliva Stith called herself the “voice” for others, including kindergarteners, students who speak English as a second language and teachers unable to live in Fauquier because of inadequate salaries.
“Invest in me, invest in the people I stand for,” said Oliva, urging the board to approve the proposed school budget.
“We are here to be financially compensated appropriately,” said Sharon Mellon, a fourth-grade teacher at C. Hunter Ritchie Elementary School near New Baltimore.
“The future is at risk” if Fauquier doesn’t adequately fund public schools, added Ms. Mellon, an 18-year veteran of the system.
Teachers work far longer hours than their contracts require, said Jennifer McIntyre, a fourth-grade instructor at Ritchie Elementary.
They also take work home, Ms. McIntyre added.
“We teachers will continue to love, teach, nurture and grow children with enthusiasm passion, dedication and, obviously, kindness,” she said. “However, I’d like to start the conversation about what we, as teachers, will no longer do, if we are not appropriately, financially compensated.
“Has this county seen teachers organize? Has this county seen teachers work to the rule? This county should not have to see this. These ideas are not pitchforks. This is not being unkind. This is assertive; this is factual. Teachers, if this budget does not pass or there are concerns, we need to organize.
“I urge you to pass this budget.”
Henry Lavine of Rectortown issued a blunt political warning.
A retired Washington lawyer, Mr. Lavine and his neighbors have raised thousands of dollars to fund programs and activities for Claude Thompson Elementary School students, their families and others in the community.
“What’s happened in our little Rectortown community, we’ve become a hotbed of activists on education,” he said.
Unless Fauquier does more to improve teachers’ salaries, the school system’s best and brightest will leave, Mr. Levine said.
“We are activists. We will raise money to support supervisors who will support education.”
Supervisor Holder Trumbo’s Scott District includes Rectortown. Fauquier voters next will elect supervisors to four-year terms in 2019.
While school funding issues dominated the public hearing, speakers also urged the supervisors to:
• Continue to support the county’s business incubator program, which provides affordable office space and free training and mentoring services to new and small businesses at locations in Warrenton, Marshall and Vint Hill.
• Restore to the county’s five-year construction plan a proposal to construct a new, $15 million Warrenton branch library.
• Provide public recreational access to the Rappahannock River. Among counties that front the Rappahannock, only Fauquier lacks public access to the river.
Under Mr. McCulla’s proposed spending plan, Fauquier homeowners would face a significant jump in real estate tax bills. The proposed budget calls for the owner of an “average” home to pay $393 more taxes, up 11.7 percent from this fiscal year.
The average tax bill would increase to $3,745, according to his plan.
Mr. McCulla’s plan totals $335.9 million, an increase of $25 million or about 8 percent over this fiscal year.
Mr. McCulla’s proposal also would provide Fauquier’s emergency services department $3.1 million more for:
• 13 new fire and rescue technicians, funded only with county money ($1.4 million).
The department has 101 career firefighter/medics.
• The county’s $1.5-million match to fund 15 fire/rescue positions, created in 2017 after Fauquier received a three-year SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) grant from the federal government.
• A senior administrative assistant, the reclassification of nine positions and the purchase of three new ambulances.
The budget proposal also includes:
• $830,000 for nine new county government positions, including an assistant county administrator, marketing coordinator, budget coordinator, information security analyst and project manager.
• $1.1 million for 1.4-percent cost-of-living raises and 1-percent merit pay hikes for county government’s approximately 600 workers.
County workers received no pay increase in fiscal 2018.
Fauquier’s real estate rate stands at $1.039 per $100 assessed value. It did not increase this fiscal year.
For tax purposes, Fauquier reassesses the county’s real estate every four years. The Code of Virginia requires local government to reassess all property at 100 percent of fair market value.
Real estate owners received their new assessments in January.
Under the previous assessment, Fauquier valued the average home at $321,300. Based on the new assessment, average residential value has increased 17.7 percent to $378,000.
A penny on the real estate tax rate generates $1.1 million in revenue — about $100,000 more than the previous assessment produced.
Fauquier’s proposed fiscal 2019-2023 construction plan totals $72.2 million, with an additional $212.3 million designated for “future” years. The supervisors on Monday, March 19, will conduct their last scheduled budget work session.
They expect on March 22 to adopt the budget, capital improvements plan and tax rates.
The new fiscal year begins July 1.
Please, be polite. Avoid name-calling and profanity.
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sshrader · March 23, 2018 at 1:19 pm
Nice work Demosthenes!
your idea of "classical studies" is way mislabeled
your idea of "American History" is also way mislabeled
maybe you mean- white, European descent US history
do you include- the decimation of the Native Americans, slavery, Jim Crow laws, the resulting great migration, the impact of unequal treatment and unfair practices on poc, the influence of immigrants from non-European areas, the mistreatment of immigrants from non-European areas, etc., etc..
If you want to complain, then let's complain about the over-simplification and white-washing of what we constitute as "history"
Demosthenes · March 22, 2018 at 10:57 am
Oh, I get it! Nonewtaxes is saying that just as libs use the Australia example as a case study for what happens when stricter gun laws are enacted, it is fair to look at Oklahoma as a case study for school funding. Let's do it.
Oklahoma as a case study: As Jeffersonian already pointed out, graduates in OK don't know anything about anything. As for school funding, Oklahoma now ranks 48th out of 50 states in per pupil spending, and they have cut their school spending more in the past decade than any other state.
There ya have it! Oklahoma is a great case study in showing that when public schools aren't well funded student performance will be terrible. Thank you, nonewtaxes and Jeffersonian, for bringing this clear example to everyone's attention.
nonewtaxes · March 21, 2018 at 9:35 am
Don't know why people refer to gun control in Australia when talking about gun control in the US.
Don't know why people refer to broadband in the city when talking about broadband in a rural county.
Demosthenes · March 19, 2018 at 4:59 pm
No idea why Jeffersonian is writing about the state of public education in Oklahoma on a thread related to funding schools in Fauquier County VA. If anyone out there knows this guy in person, please look in on him and see if he is ok.
Jeffersonian American · March 19, 2018 at 8:10 am
It seems some of our citizens demanding ever-increasing taxes to pay for their local public school system remain in denial about the pitiful state of much of America’s public schools today compared with even 50 years ago or 100 years ago (and certainly a more precipitous drop in all quantifiable measures since the U.S. Department of Education was established in 1980). Remember- America went from #2 in the world in 1980 in quality of education ranking to #17 in 2017, a mere 37 years after the creation of the U.S. Department of Education. Fauquier County Public Schools’ “GOALS 2015” is a product of these disastrous education policies which emphasize all kinds of celebration of world multiculturalism and diversity today, instead of teaching our local students basic American history and classical studies.
In just one example, a 2009 survey of Oklahoma high school students conducted for Constitution Day by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs found only 23% could correctly identify George Washington as our nation’s first President. Only 14% of Oklahoma high school students surveyed could correctly identify Thomas Jefferson as the author of the Declaration of Independence; and only 3% of the students surveyed would have passed the U.S. Citizenship Test administered to all recent immigrants, which formed the basis for the polling questions. Arizona state high school students in a separate survey had similar results by the same organization who conducted the polls:
Want more examples? Here are just a couple recent George Mason University random student interviews showing just how historically-challenged they actually are, struggling to identify recent U.S. President Ronald Reagan’s official presidential portrait in the first video. One can only imagine the results if we conducted such interviews with our local high school students:
While the following topic is laughable on its face when one learns President Lincoln single-handedly turned our U.S. Constitution upside down to destroy the federative polity of our American founders and our original constitutional republic by force of arms- at least the student answers to this generic history question suggests a sobering historic ignorance on the part of our regional George Mason University students:
So in summary, while I have no doubt there are some meritorious and conscientious Fauquier teachers worthy of pay raises who are being forced to teach to Virginia SOL scripted coursework (most grievously noted in their American History studies as I have observed), my overall message is that the entire public school education system in Virginia and across much of the nation is in a vile state of fundamental transformation under the current waves of Cultural Marxism and the “Agenda 21” movements evident at every turn. To their great credit, at least we can find some reassurance that 74% of the Fauquier County high school students last week did not become Useful Idiot Dupes against their own Second Amendment Rights as orchestrated and condoned by some of the teachers, administrators and senior leaders of Fauquier County Public Schools in the thinly-disguised, anti-Second Amendment "national walk-outs" across the land. Diminishing annual enrollment figures, and other reasons presented are sufficient to replace the Fauquier County school system leadership; and to find other ways to fund the public schools than by economically punishing residents with ever-increasing taxation to pay for such a GOALS 2015 and AGENDA 21 public school system indoctrination of these young, hapless students under their control. No wonder more parents every passing year are opting for home schooling and private school alternatives, rather than condemn their children to this brand of Cultural Marxism.
citizen observer · March 18, 2018 at 9:07 am
JO- thanks for another great update! It seems so hard to be able to get good news anywhere. You have restored my faith in our schools. Keep up the good work!
J Obrokta · March 17, 2018 at 7:19 pm
CO - Thanks for the response.
I don't know why the story of Bennington inviting Kaine to speak at Kettle Run is so well known, while his invitation to Republican Tom Garrett is so often overlooked. Garrett was at KRHS and Southeastern last May. We tried to get him at LHS as well, but he had to cancel on us due to an important vote. Still, one of his aides came to LHS and did a great job. I heard he will make it to FHS eventually.
Anyway, our government teachers do invite people from both sides to come and speak to our students. And most politicians who come to speak focus on helping students to understand the complexities of government. They tend not to use their time in our high schools to push policies or agendas very much.
citizen observer · March 17, 2018 at 5:47 pm
J Obrokta- thank you for showing that many teachers are doing the right thing. The fact that only about 1/4 of the students participated in breaking the rules does speak volumes.
The problem is when I see a teacher publicly slamming the sheriff, a high school that only allowed a defeated candidate to present his views and not one from the "other side" was invited, and students are encouraged and allowed to leave school in a protest arranged by EMPOWER (where were all the protests when Obama was in office?), I worry the schools are not presenting the whole picture to their students.
I certainly don't want them to think like me. I just want them to be able to make good decisions to keep the country free and healthy. Freedom is invaluable and there are people, like George Soros, funding many activities to divide and destroy the US.
Thank you for your dedicated service and I support teachers getting a deserved payraise. I just think it may be time for a change at the top.
BJ · March 17, 2018 at 4:24 pm
Mental Health alert for Jeffersonian American.
martinkus · March 17, 2018 at 1:18 pm
Well said J Obrokta!
It does appear The Tea Party right and NRA are very strong and vocal in Fauquier County!
Go students...exercise your first amendment rights!
J Obrokta · March 17, 2018 at 7:44 am
Citizen Observer - Based on that quote, in that student's own words, he or she had done a lot of RESEARCH on the issue in government class. This demonstrates that the our government teachers aren't teaching a political point of view, but instead are giving students the opportunity to do their own research and to come to their own conclusions.
We aren't teaching students what to think. We aren't teaching students to think as we think. We are seriously creating an environment where our students are encouraged to do their own research and to think for themselves. Please don't be upset when they do so and come to conclusions that differ from your own.
Jeffersonian American - Our students all graduate with plenty of knowledge, and respect for, Jefferson and Washington and the other founding fathers. Our global history classes cover 3 years out of 12. The other 9 years are dedicated to American history and government.
If you have questions about how we are doing social studies at LHS, please do not hesitate to contact me.
In service to you and our community,
LHS Social Studies Dept Chair
citizen observer · March 17, 2018 at 7:10 am
“I’ve done a lot of research through government class and seen so much gun violence . . . . It’s very important issue that Americans don’t talk about in a way that’s logical.”
This quote from a student is clear evidence that our school system is not educating students with the whole truth, but indoctrinating them by only providing the liberal point of view. How come no mention of mental health or any other issues, just guns. Amazing how the media did not report on this knife attack since it didn't involve a gun.
As a taxpayer I say the Board hold off on increases until the school board gets a superintendant that can hold his principals and teachers accountable for providing the students with a true education. I wonder who had to pay for all the sheriffs and troopers to provide security for the 26% who walked out. Did the superintendant pay for it from his own pocket since he supported it?
Jeffersonian American · March 16, 2018 at 10:07 pm
First, citizens should be extremely proud of the 74% of Fauquier County Public School students who remained in their classrooms this week and did not allow themselves to be so crassly manipulated for political purposes by their Marxist-Communist ideologue adult handlers (read: the local teachers and/or school administrators which organized and condoned this nationwide, Radical Left, thinly-veiled "memorial" protest against Americans' Second Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution). As a County Taxpayer who is forced to pay ever-increasing taxes for these "Agenda 21" and "Goals 2015" Public School Cultural Marxism indoctrinations amidst steadily declining FCPS enrollment in recent years (read: more and more County parents opting for Homeschooling and Private Schools), I find this week's nationwide "Walkout" events to be outrageous and despicable beyond all words for their true, non-spontaneously organized, underlying purpose. And our County Board of Supervisors want to TAX US MORE for these kinds of public school outrages at our most recent Board Meeting? How about holding teachers and administrators (and our local elected School Board Members) accountable for the public school failings- and for the measured individual performance of their students- not using Government “SOL” metrics- but using traditional English reading comprehension; English composition, mathematics and American History fundamentals (placed before World History), just to name a few basic categories of traditional learning and formerly classical studies. Having reviewed and commented to the County Board of Supervisors on the "Goals 2015" program of our local public schools implemented a few years ago, I was disgusted by the disproportionate level of "Multiculturalism" and "Diversity Awareness" curriculum items in the plan- with no such similar emphasis on our Fauquier, Virginia and American history. It was stated these "Goals 2015" curriculum experiences would enable Fauquier students to more fully appreciate other world cultures. Just how are 18-year-old graduates of FCPS expected to appreciate foreign cultures when they have not been taught our Bill of Rights, our Declaration of Independence, and our Fauquier, Virginia and American heritage and history with a similar emphasis? If our graduating public school students can't recall their Natural Law rights including the high priority importance of our Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, or who Patrick Henry or George Mason was, or all that Thomas Jefferson contributed which changed our world (much less understand the real causes of the War Between the States, etc.), then how are they ever going to know and learn to appreciate our founders' concepts of American freedom and liberty, and our cultural, spiritual and political inheritance adequately enough to make an educated, rational comparison of our American system with other world cultures? How many FCPS Graduates next June could properly identify George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, or pass a U.S. Citizenship Test administered to recent immigrants? While I commend all teachers of excellence, dedication and intellectual honesty, these highly prized individuals are cursed throughout America's public school systems and the U.S. Department of Education to work in a scripted, ideological environment where Cultural Marxism is demanded at every turn in these Government run indoctrination centers. In 1980, at the time of the creation of the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. was ranked 2nd in an assessment of the education systems of 50 countries around the world. In 2017, the U.S. was ranked 17th in the same assessment, such has been the travesty of the U.S. Department of Education. Taxing Fauquier County residents to their detriment each new year over failing public schools by any objective ranking in the modern era is not the answer. Reward competent, results-oriented teachers- after the DOE has been completely abolished- and all U.S. public education has been properly returned to the States. Promote local community "Hedge Schools" once again with high standards of classical studies, interspersed with 21st Century relevant courses. CUT SPENDING ACROSS MANY LINE ITEMS; MODERNIZE OLDER EXISTING SCHOOL BUILDINGS FOR A FRACTION OF NEW CONSTRUCTION COSTS WHERE NEEDED; FORM PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS FOR NEW CONSTRUCTION AND TO REINSTATE CLASSICAL LEARNING CURRICULUM ACROSS THE COUNTY. IF NO ROOT-CAUSE- ADDRESSING SYSTEMIC CHANGES ARE MADE, THEN INCREASE THE COUNTY TAXES FOR THE END-USERS OF THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS ONLY. PROMOTE LOCAL HEDGE SCHOOLS HOME SCHOOLING AND PRIVATE SCHOOL VOUCHERS FOR EVERY OTHER TAXPAYING FAMILY IN FAUQUIER COUNTY. Do not increase our taxes to meet the needs of an ever-expanding Public School Systems mired in Cultural Marxism under a disastrous (as documented since 1980) U.S. Department of Education. This is an anatomy of a disaster upon our nation.
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