School board budget battle comes to a quick, quiet end

Excerpt from my story in today’s Floyd Press:

The long, sometimes bitter, fight over the fiscal year 2011-12 school board budget came to a quick, quiet end Wednesday night when the Floyd County Board of Supervisors took just five minutes to accept the system’s latest numbers and approve a spending plan for the coming year.

In a 4-0 vote, the supervisors approved a $22 million school system budget that includes a one-percent salary increase for all system employees and restores jobs cut by the school board in response to earlier budget changes mandated by the county’s top governing authority.

Courthouse Supervisor Case Clinger, whose questioning of the compensation for retiring school superintendent Terry Arbogast sparked the debate and an expansion of supervisor authority over school spending, offered the motion to approve the latest school system budget with a second by Little River Supervisor Virgel Allen, who has also publicly criticized the offerings from the school board.

Board chairman David Ingram of Locust Grove and Burks Fork Supervisor Bill Gardner — a retired educator whose part-time job with the school system was restored in the latest budget — joined Clinger and Allen in voting for the new budget.  Indian Valley Supervisor Fred Gerald was absent.

Clinger also offered the motion to approve the county’s overall $29 million budget for fiscal 2011-12 with a second from Gardner. That motion also passed 4-0.

“I can say without hesitation that this has been the most difficult budget process I have been through,” County Administrator Dan Campbell said as the meeting came to a close.

Yes, it was difficult. The battle over the school board’s budget generated widespread discussion that spread beyond the borders of Floyd County. It brings Terry Arbogast’s 18-year run as the school system boss to a close under a cloud. Whatever good Arbogast accomplished as superintendent is now a footnote. He will be remembered for the controversy over his salary and how it was handled.

It didn’t have to be that way. Just a little more effort at transparency by both the superintendent and the school board could have put this mess to bed before it became a public controversy that dominated breakfast and coffee conversations for the past three months.

There’s an old rule of government and politics.

It’s never the initial lie.

It’s the coverup.

© 2004-2022 Blue Ridge Muse

© 2021 Blue Ridge Muse