School Board Authorizes Funding Negotiations for Governor’s School

| January 3, 2013 | 0 Comments | Education

School Board Chairman Milt Johns serves as one of Prince William's representatives on the Governor's School Joint School Board. Credit: Prince WIlliam County Schools

The School Board authorized its chairman, Milt Johns, to negotiate a funding agreement for the Governor’s School at Innovation Park by a unanimous vote Wednesday.

According to the proposed agreement, Prince William County would be responsible for the funding promised before the beginning of the school term, even if students are unable or decide to no longer attend the Governor’s School.

“We’re not asking to negotiate how much money is going to the Governor’s School. We are going to lock in a number of how many students are going to be sent,” said Johns.

He told the School Board the agreement is “merely a technicality that these blanks would be filled in as to the number of students.”

Likewise, partnering districts Manassas Park and the City of Manassas would be held to the same agreement.

“Each of the three school divisions is doing the exact same thing,” Johns said.

He explained that guaranteed funding is required for staffing the Governor’s School.

When asked if money designated for Prince William students might possibly go towards educated students in other districts at the Governor’s School, or vice-versa, Johns said it was a possibility, saying it is up to the Governor’s School Joint School Board to make that determination.

Chairman Johns and Dr. Michael Otaigbe, the School Board representative from the Coles district, both serve on the Governor’s Joint School Board. That is because the Governor’s School Board is comprised of members of the school boards of the three districts. It is not a separate organization to which Johns and Otaigbe belong on their own behalf.

As Johns explained, his participation is in no way a conflict of interests. He was responding to a question posed by OurSchools Facebook page.

“There was some suggestion that there might be a conflict of interest on my part that somehow I’m sitting on both sides of this transaction. Certainly, I have a legal obligation, if I had a conflict of interest to disclose it, but I cannot grasp in my wildest imagination that what my conflict of interest would be,” Johns said.

In fact, he explains that the system was created so each district has the voice of their own school board members.

“There’s nothing in here that empowers me to negotiate or make any commitment for the School Board, that the School Board hasn’t authorized me to make,” Johns said.

Johns said he personally feels more comfortable first seeking the guidance of the Prince William School Board, before casting his vote as a Governor’s School Board member.

“It has been my practice as one of the representative for Prince William County that I have never signed or agreed to anything that was not authorized for me to do so by that board,” Johns said.

The issue was clarified on the OurSchools site shortly after Johns explained his position.

The Governor’s School is a George Mason affiliated program, in which upperclassmen can attend a half-day at Innovation Park, study science and gain college credits.

Tuition to the Governor’s School will cost Prince William County a total of $582,525 to educate 88 Prince William students for the 2013-14 school year. As per the agreement, should some students not attend, that will still be the cost.

The cost per pupil is $6,585, but Prince William County pays $4,323. The rest of the cost comes from State Aid. Manassas City and Manassas Park pay slightly less per student, but their students receive more in state aid.

Dr. Otaigbe promoted the Governor’s School program, saying, “I think it’s the best kept secret in Prince William County. Parents who are watching us tonight, if you have a student who loves science, this is the way to go. This is for rising eleventh graders.”

© 2013, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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