Second meeting, vote sought

A second joint meeting with school officials was requested Monday, and the Patrick County Board of Supervisors also asked for an official vote of the Patrick County School Board.

Lock Boyce, vice chairman of the supervisors, said the school board’s response to the previous call for a joint meeting was “totally unacceptable.”

Two weeks ago, supervisors directed County Administrator Tom Rose to work with school officials to schedule a joint meeting.

However, after consulting the chairman and vice-chairman of the Patrick County School Board, Schools Superintendent said the school board declined the joint meeting. School board members directed Sroufe they would be amenable to providing answers to submitted, written questions from supervisors.

“Written questions are totally unacceptable,” partly because they do not allow for follow-up questions, Boyce said.

“When we make a request to meet with them, there should be a vote,” Boyce said, and added the outcome of that vote should be recorded to identify both those who voted for and against.

Boyce said he is a “strong supporter” of funding the division “if they need it, but if it’s being wasted and squandered, it doesn’t help our educational efforts.

“I’m not happy with the situation. I’m not happy having to cow tow to the school board. I’m telling them I want to talk to them,” he said heatedly.

Dan River District Supervisor Roger Hayden said residents in his district “are very discouraged about the way the school system is being handled. They expect the Board of Supervisors to handle the problem.”

School board members are elected just as their counterparts serving as supervisors. Generally, supervisors vote annually on the proposed school budget, and the school board appropriates the funds, Hayden explained.

“First of all, we have to have the school board to meet with us. It will be up to this board to make a decision on the course we will take” forward, Hayden said.

Karl Weiss, of the Blue Ridge District, said “it hurt me” to learn the division decreased pay to substitute bus drivers and certain other substitute employees. But “we can meet with the school board every week and not accomplish anything.”

Peters Creek District Supervisor Rickie Fulcher, who served three terms on the school board, said “I was very disappointed” to learn school officials declined the first requested joint meeting.

With both boards elected, and both serving the county, “we should be able to speak to each other in an open dialog. The two governing boards should work together.”

Fulcher said in his opinion, there are only two reasons to not support a joint meeting: “Either you’re trying to hide something or you’re afraid the truth will come out. I served 12 years on the school board. Never once did we refuse to meet” with supervisors.

“Sometimes it wasn’t pleasant,” but joint meetings were held, he said.

Crystal Harris, of the Smith River District and board chairman, said “I want them to tell us why they don’t want to meet with us.”

Supervisors again directed Rose to “meet eye-to-eye” with Sroufe and try to arrange a meeting.

“I mean no disrespect, but this is not directed to him (Sroufe),” Boyce said. “This is directed to the school board.”

In other matters Monday:

Approved spending not more than $15,000 on a trailer that will serve as a mobile classroom unit and be used in training programs for rescue squad volunteers. The trailer will be divided in two with a center wall, and include classrooms on either end, said Steve Allen, Emergency Services coordinator. Supervisors also gave Allen the nod to repair two mannequins. The mannequins are used in training programs. Once repaired, they will remain on the trailer.

Supervisors tabled discussion of renewing a lease agreement on Rotary facilities.

Following a public hearing in which no one spoke, supervisors approved revisions and additions in a proposed Stormwater Management Fee Schedule.

The board adjourned until their next scheduled meeting on Oct. 16.


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