School board fires staff to fund raises

Floyd County’s school board took out its anger on employees Wednesday night, cutting jobs and eliminating already-vacant positions because the Board of Supervisors had the gall to suggest they give other employees raises for the first time in three years.

One of those fired is part-time attendance services department director Bill Gardner — who is also a member of the board of supervisors. Gardner, a retired school system employee,  loses $18,623 in salary and benefits.  Other cuts include two clerical positions in the administration office and a part-time nurse.

School superintendent Terry W. Arbogast — whose previously-secret annual compensation package of nearly $170,000 a year spawned a fight with the supervisors, had nothing to say about the layoffs.  Neither did school board chairman Doug Phillips. Both men are under fire in the community for the school board’s past series of informal raises to Arbogast that created a countywide crisis of confidence in the school system leadership.

In the wake of the emerging scandal, supervisors voted to increase their authority over the school board by exercising category-by-category control over the budget.  In May, they voted to shift money from the administration budget to other accounts to fund a one percent raise for school system employees.

Supervisors will consider the revised school board budget next week and finalize the county budget.

(Article based on information in The Roanoke Times and discussions with teachers and school system employees)

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20 thoughts on “School board fires staff to fund raises”

  1. And where did you think the School Board would come up with the money for the piddling 1% raise? Seriously – what anger are you talking about? The BOS knew when they moved $125k from the Admin line to teachers that jobs had to be cut to do this. Maybe you should look to the BOS to place blame for this recent job loss, NOT the School Board. Good grief! I for one wouldn’t be able to sleep well knowing that a piddling 1% raise cost other people their jobs and benefits. Thanks to the BOS. Now can we get past the vendetta you and others have for Arbogast. He’ll be gone and you have to get over it and move forward – hopefully you will be able to let a new Supt. improve the district as Arbogast did when he came on board. It’s time to focus on what will happen in the future with the funding limitations placed on the district by BOS, but hopefully a new Supt. will be able to do this.

    • Elaine:

      I have no vendetta against Terry Arbogast or anyone else. I do have a problem with government entities that operate in secret — as both the school board and the board of supervisors have done on too many occasions. I do have a problem when a public school board budget is crafted in such a way to conceal the actual compensation of an administrator. And I do have a problem with people who assume that when one questions the actions of a governmental body they have some sort of agenda or “vendetta.” I’ve spent most of my adult life exposing government malfeasance. It’s what I do. It’s never personal. Don’t make the mistake of assuming it is.

      • So you have no problem with knowing that the BOS moved funds so that some are fired and others get the piddling raise…the point is, what is done has been done and Arbogast is leaving, so why punish the few so that others can get piddling 1%? What is that after taxes – a meal at Ruby Tuesdays once a month? I hope BOS can sleep – some of them probably can, but others not.

  2. The biggest thing I see after looking over the new budget is that there has been no allowance made for any savings that may result from hiring a new superintendent.Do they intend on offering the current salary to the new hire? If so I would be upset if I was Dr. Arbogast, it took him 18 years to get to that pay scale.
    I doubt this is over yet, the BOS still has to look it over and can make suggestions before they approve the budget. Hopefully there could even be enough savings realized to keep at least one position that is on the chopping block.

  3. What a mess! If the school board had been up front then we would not be where we are now! With that said, the BOS flexed thier muscles and now look where the Floyd Schools are! They are letting people go, who live in the county and who will now have to pay more taxes because of the increase that the BOS set and not have a job to pay it.
    Those people lost all the way around!!! If the BOS had wanted the teachers to have a raise they should given it to the SBO for that purpose and not taken it out of an already stressed budget. The 1% increase to the TEACHERS in not much and as a teacher I would have rather see US not get a raise and keep the teaching assistants. Having larger class sizes without teaching assistants is hurting the STUDENTS and the teachers. I would like to see everyone sit down and work this out as ADULTS and do what is best for the STUDENTS of FLOYD COUNTY!

    • Jimmy:

      I think you are making a mistake in thinking that the public school board budget is an accurate portrayal of what they are spending on any category. The way the true level of compensation for the school superintendent was concealed for years is proof that the budget presented for public consumption is a far cry from reality.

      The school board now has a serious credibility problem with the residents of Floyd County and that credibility issue is one they created. Until they learn how to be open and honest with the public these issues will continue. Based on the way they have played fast and loose with the numbers in the past, I don’t for one second believe what they put out.

      My granddaddy used to say: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” At this point, if the school board announced that Floyd County is located in the Commonwealth of Virginia, I’d advise folks to confirm that with a second source. 😉

      • Obviously the BOS thought they did a good job with the other $18,000,000 or so that was in the budget. You will not convince me there isn’t a vendetta from someone against Terry and/or the School Board. If the BOS TRULY thought the entire budget was bogus, they could/should have made cuts to other areas also (although I seriously doubt they have the knowledge or expertise to develop, much less manage that budget).

  4. You people are incredible. Arbogast lies to the public, the board of supervisors and the teachers for years about how much he is paid, admits that he kept his salary artificially low in the budget to avoid catching hell from teachers who didn’t get a raise and you still defend his despicable actions. The man is a liar who made fools of a complacent school board and you defend him. What will it take to open your eyes?

    The board of supervisors finally does its job of oversight over an out-of-control school system and you call that a vendetta? You deserve to be ripped off.

  5. Bottomline to all – had the superintendent and the school board done their jobs, then all this would have been anticipated and proper planning would have taken place. There is no ONE person to blame – there is enough blame to be shared among Dr. Arbogast and each of the board members. I don’t really see that the BOS had much choice but to get more closely involved. Too many people have told me that they have attempted to reach their SB representative, but calls are not returned. If the Superintendent serves at the pleasure of the SBoard, then certainly the SBoard serves at the pleasure of it’s constituents. Clearly, this has been forgotten. By chain of command, folks started calling their county supervisors.
    That said, one only needs to look over the monthly payment of bills reports to see that there are tons of expenditures which could be questioned. In addition, the number of clerical positions has been ridiculous. For example, one would think that L Pluska shares one of the clerical positions attributed to the admministration (SB office), but there is a separate position listed under her area.
    Despite the fact that this is a school system, a fiscally responsible business model fits. A good CEO (Superintendent) makes decisions which are good for the whole business unit. That has not been the case here.

    • You obviously have not darkened the door of the central office and seen the non-stop activity going on there. You are obviously not aware of all the beaurocratic paperwork that is mandatory. It’s so easy to say there are too many clerical positions when you don’t know what they do. Maybe you should actually go and see for yourself, but don’t take too much time as they are pretty stressed there trying to close out 2010-2011 and ramping up for 2011-2012 – making sure that everything is accounted for from the ending school year and making sure books, equipment, teachers, infrastructure is in place for the next year while everyone else is on vacation. All the while working from a reduced budget provided by BOS.

      The secretaries that roll up under Supt are Human Resource Specialist plus shared Secretary with Finance that has Finance Specialist. There is the receptionist (who helps Instruction, Human Resources and Finance) and Supt secretary and food services Specialist. Which one would you eliminate? Each major dept (Instruction, Special Education, Technology) has a secretary. Rolling up under Instruction is also a data specialist – which would you eliminate? Look at the “School Board Office” link under the school district website.

      These are not highly paid individuals unless you think a $26,261 12-month salary is high for 20 years service. Contrast that with a 20 year teacher making over $39,000 (more for those with advanced degrees). Who do you think is supporting all the services and teachers that work with the students? (see salary scales under “Employment” on school district website.)

      • I’ve spent more time than you might realize in the central office. And I am all too familiar w/ beaurocratic paperwork. I some of the paperwork had been watched more closely, by those who should have been watching, then just maybe we wouldn’t be in this position.
        Also, I’m quite sure each eliminated staff person could argue just as strongly as you re: their respective areas being cut. Clerical in the SBO is just one area cut, don’t forget. Each and every position is important – & I am familiar w/ the salary scale, which is in place for a reason. This is why people chose to go to college, pay on student loans, etc. So they can earn more.
        Finally, don’t lose sight that the real losers in this whole mess are the kids.

  6. FYI – the Attendance Services item had been increased from a total $14,192 in the 2010-11 budget to the proposed $18,623 for 2011-2012. Does anyone else wonder how Bill Gardner’s area was to be increased but such a significant amount when other areas were to be cut?????

    • I don’t know anything about that but doesn’t that show some real confusion in priorities? First is more funding, then it’s elimination?

      The us and them mentality stems from what appears to be a disconnect from the community that pays the bills. I live in Montgomery County and my real estate lottery ticket said my assessment went up for no reason and after the tax rate adjustment I have more tax to pay. It’s a small number by someone’s measure. For me, it’s 4 months of paying for electricity, or 1/12 of my food bill. I can manage the other two and I have. So what?

      Then there is the discussion about piddly 1%. I think it’s foolish to grow ongoing expenses unless someone has a crystal ball not made in China. Ignore the fact that some workers haven’t seen a real wage increase in 30 years while other costs have continued to rise. I don’t have any luxuries to give up. I was a saver and debt free by choice and still am. Savers got crushed by devalued dollar and no conservative investment choices. If I knew they would change the rules after the crash I might have been more aggressive.

      If you went to the re-fi party and spent your fake equity, congratulations. If you maxed out every credit card and ran up a bill you could never pay, you get the bankruptcy bonus reward. FDIC protection was added to investment choices AFTER the fact.

      If you got caught in both traps and you have been living in a house rent free for years, you win the tri-fecta.

      Yes, I wandered off course. It’s pretty simple. The geese are struggling too and if they have a job they aren’t getting raises that don’t equal 1% of a higher wage. The Social Security folks expect a COLA when there are less people employed to pay into the ponzi that you were supposed to die before collecting.

      If anything is getting better, please let me know where. Not that it matters. If I could sell, buyers are scarce and the distressed sale price wouldn’t be enough to relocate.

      Count every nickel and dime. The status quo has left the building. Why are the administrators the last to admit it?

    • After checking around I discovered the position was increased because it is based on the days actually worked in the position and it required more days than had been budgeted for the prior year. While money could have been pulled from other areas in years past, with categorical budgeting the money needed to be in the area it would come from.

  7. Instead of cutting jobs why doesn’t Arbogast do an honable thing and pay back the over compensated money he has received from the county for all these years? It would be a good start of rebuilding his reputation in this county and possibly save a few jobs in the process. I still can’t believe Doug Phillips ( a somewhat respectable businessman) would fall for for such a scam as to continue to allow Arbogast to work for the school system without a contract. That is NOT a good business practice. I’m ready to see Arbogast go but I believe Phillips and the other school board members should go right along with him. If Arbogast really cared about the students he serves he should have fought like heck to keep the part-time nurse job in the school system instead of sitting silent.

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