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Supervisor Caddigan Advocates for Class Size Reduction Grant

| July 29, 2016 | 0 Comments | News
Supervisor Maureen Caddigan of the Potomac District.

Supervisor Maureen Caddigan of the Potomac District.

When the Prince William Board of County Supervisors meet again on Aug. 3, they will vote on whether or not to grant the school board $1 million for class size reduction.

The agreement is contingent upon the school division matching that $1 million with its own $1 million for class size reduction, but not signing upon the school board signing a memorandum of agreement.

Potomac Supervisor, Maureen Caddigan, who proposed the legislation, is willing to approve it even without the MOA. She hopes it will gain support of enough supervisors to pass next week.

At the July 12 Board of County Supervisors meeting, Caddigan withdrew the motion to vote on the $1 million for class size reduction after supervisors disagreed on whether the grant should be accompanied by a the signing of the MOA.

Supervisors Jeanine Lawson (Brentsville-R), Peter Candland (Gainesville-R) and Ruth Anderson (Coles-R) said the supervisors should require the school board put the agreement in writing. With Chairman Corey Stewart (R) and Woodbridge Supervisor Frank Principi (R) absent, it would have likely been a tie vote.

While on the dais, Lawson explained she was only asking the school board to do what it had done in the past.

However, this year, the school division has new legal council, who is advising the school board against signing the agreement, noting that the Virginia Constitution declares elected school board are independent of their county boards.

April 2016 Board Memo re BOCS Authority (1)

Supervisor Candland explained that he and Lawson originally proposed these grants. Candland said it would be a sign of good faith to the taxpayers for the school board to sign the agreement even if it could not be legally enforced.

Furthermore, he said the details of the deal were still being hotly debated, adding that the supervisors are not obligated to provide the money just because the school board had mistakenly expected it.

But other supervisors, hoped to have the issue resolved over the summer, saying the funds were needed to hire new teachers.

According to PWCS, hiring has not been placed on hold. However, if the funds are not granted, the school division will have to dip further into their reserve funds, which Association Superintendent David Cline said would be lower than usual as per the FY17 budget.

School Board Chairman Ryan Sawyers said he hoped a letter sent by Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Steven Walts, which explained the money has been dedicated for class size reduction, would have satisfied the supervisors’ need for documentation.

Sawyers would like to see the school division receive the grant money.

“From my experience, properly funding our schools has enormous bi-partisan support. That is tax money that stays right here in Prince William County,” Sawyers said. “Local tax dollars invested into our local schools are quite simply one of the best investments we can make.”

He hopes to work with the supervisors to reduce class sizes, but also said, “Classrooms of 38 students are a reality and not a game.”

Sawyers wanted to remind residents that Prince William County has the largest class sizes in the state and the $1 million grant is only a small portion of what the county “desperately” needs “in order to take on this significant challenge” of class size reduction. To really fix the problem would require an additional $75 million annually, Sawyers said.

Potomac Supervisor Maureen Caddigan is also hoping the vote on Aug. 3 will go in favor of the students and the teachers.

I’m a former school board member, former Chairman of the School Board of Prince William County Schools, and I feel like we made a promise to give it to them. The superintendent wrote a letter, that’s fine for me. It’s for the kids. It is for the hiring of teachers…We just need to do it. Somehow the kids are being forgotten.

She also believes the funds will greatly benefit the western districts where schools have the most overcrowding.

Caddigan suggested the two boards sit down together and to share their priorities and talk out their differences.

She noted that the relationship between the two boards got along famously, at least in comparison to other Virginia boards. She hopes they can return to that again.

 

This article reflects changes and corrections in the previous article “Prince William Supervisors Without Class Size Reduction Grant” as the vote on the $1 million funding was not taken, July 12, but withdrawn by Supervisor Caddigan. 

 

 

© 2016, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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