Henrico school spending meeting quickly turns sour

By Andy Jenks - bio | email

Posted by Colby Rogers

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - Henrico's School Board butted heads Thursday with county supervisors over a proposal to put off all new spending on school renovations for at least a year.

But at Thursday's budget meeting, the school board tried to make the case that the projects must go on, quickly revealing the differences between the two entities.

The meeting started, predictably.

"This is the most unusual set of circumstances that I have certainly encountered in a 30-year career," said Fred Morton, Superintendent of Henrico Schools, "and I think that's probably true for you all."

But then the issues quickly turned contentious, with the School Board raising questions for the first time, about the county manager's proposal to freeze school spending.

"This is the first time in 21 years, that there's ever been a public argument and that's what you're doing," said county supervisor Richard Glover, speaking to School Board chairman John Montgomery who made a lengthy presentation.

School Board members object to the idea of putting off school renovations. Board member Lamont Bagby said the Board wasn't properly consulted on the idea.

"When you all say we're a part of the decision making - that we have a part in this proposal - I truly wish  that what you're saying now would've been said to us a few weeks ago, to be quite honest," Bagby said.

Yet to be factored into the equation are federal stimulus dollars.

County supervisors are hearing that Henrico may get $14 Million for school projects, but no one can verify that number.

Both sides still appear to be far apart on what, if any, school projects would be reinstated when the money comes through.

The budget meetings will continue in April.

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