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May 20, 2021 · OPINION

School board petition signature drive continues

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By Garrett Hillstrom

As trustees of taxpayer dollars, the Fauquier County School Board has a responsibility to see that schools are well-managed and our tax dollars are wisely spent. We expect our investment and interests to be protected. We expect the extraordinarily generous budget — $152 million this school year alone, of which $93 million was provided locally — we provide to our FCSB will generate an equally generous return in the form of educated youth who will become worthwhile citizens in our community. FCSB member actions over the last year neglected their responsibilities and grossly misused our tax dollars.

Police, fire, sanitation, hospital, pharmacy, banks, grocery and retail all continued over the last 14 months, because they are essential. I believe education for our children is essential. I thought my school board believed that, too.

The private schools in our community recognize the priority of education. They didn’t miss a beat this year, teaching their children in-person all year long. But children in public school suffered because of the FCSB, which voted for virtual learning for 63 percent of the school year for our children, despite admitting to the obvious loss of learning. Worse still, the FCSB has neglected to try to understand the degree of the learning loss with any serious internal analysis.

There was no legitimate reason to put our children in virtual learning for 63 percent of the school year. When they did so, they voted to misuse our tax dollars. The FCSB still collected the same generous amount of our tax dollars, but we failed to see a reasonable return on our investment. Worse yet, they have burdened many of our students with a learning gap they may never overcome.

Pursuant to Virginia Code Section 24.2-332, the petition signature collection effort to remove the FCSB members continues, with hundreds of signatures already collected in less than two weeks. In order to file the petition in the circuit court, we need to gather the following number of signatures for the five school board members we are seeking to remove. Note that the goals are higher to protect against challenges to signatures from the school board in the court proceeding.

• Donna Grove (Cedar Run District)
355 required and 710 goal

• Duke Bland (Marshall District)
373 required and 746 goal

• Suzanne Sloane (Scott District)
541 required and 1,082 goal

• Susan Pauling (Center District)
389 required and 778 goal

Stephanie Litter-Reber (Lee District)
322 required and 644 goal

Over the next few months we will be holding signature drives throughout the county and will provide opportunities for people to sign the petitions and take them to collect signatures themselves. If you are interested in volunteering, please send an email to: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Our next signature drive will be Sunday, June 6, in front of the Warrenton post office at 53 Main St. from 1 to 8 pm.

Thank you for your support for our children and for holding our board members accountable for their misuse of our tax dollars.
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