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March 14, 2017 · OPINION

Voters deserve their chance on middle school project

Photo/Cassandra Brown
Assistant Superintendent Janice Bourne presents a new plan during a joint meeting of the county supervisors and school board March 9.
By Chris Butler
Lee District Supervisor

When the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors decides to spend more than $25 million, the voters should have the opportunity to have their say in the form of a ballot referendum. 
I have spent hours with Don Mason, Lee District’s school board member, and agree with him that, when it comes to middle schools in Fauquier, something must be done. However, I have been clear from day one that any plan for a new or renovated middle school would need to include putting the referendum on the ballot and allowing voters to have their say. I have been and will be firm on this position. 
Since the first meeting and original proposal of a $55-million, consolidated middle school, we have heard many different proposals. The most recent proposal is a 650-seat school and to raise the referendum amount from $25 million to $39 million to fast track the process and to start ASAP. 
Someone said to me at the Thursday meeting that the school board and 40-person ad hoc committee came up with and supported the original proposal, and it was simply the board of supervisor’s job to pay the bill. To a degree, that is true, but we haven’t seen a solid plan. We have seen multiple plans with large details — like hearing from the Town of Warrenton or traffic plan — missing. 
This supervisor can’t ask the folks in Lee District, or anywhere else in the county, to waive their right to hear and see a full plan when it comes to spending millions of dollars. I can’t ask folks to take a rushed plan at face value and not worry that there will be a second request for more money to finish a started, but not completed school. 

I'd suggest we slow down, with both boards working collaboratively by meeting one-on-one to come up with a plan that suits the needs of the children and taxpayers.

A Remington resident, the writer won election to his first term on the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors in November 2015 and started a four-year term in January 2016.
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