Russell County Schools Crisis & Accou...

Russell County Schools Crisis & Accountablity

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Accountability

Germany

#1 May 14, 2012
Accountability,
Everyone is very concerned about the possibility of pay cuts and the closing of schools, and they seem to think that if they rant, rave, and demand enough they can just make these things go away. But if the money isn’t there, is just isn’t there and a decision has to be made. Yes raising taxes would help, but not for this fiscal year.
To me it seems like only solution would be the closing of schools. The schools that are being considered for closure are an unnecessary burden on the school boards budged and should have been shut down years ago. They remained open at the whims of the school board who’s only concern was to further their own political careers.
Everyone needs to realize what is at stake as far as the local economy is concerned. As the largest employer in Russell County, if the school board decides to cut salaries they are also hurting the local economy and tax base. What happens then? There is even less money in the budget than this year. What’s the solution; cut salaries again, the result next year? You can see where I’m going.
Now, the other thing we all need to think about is how did we get in this situation to begin with? Poor leadership. During the school system’s hiring freeze the school board continued to hire. Who did they hire? More of their friends and family. Our school board took out loans and wasted millions of dollars on cosmetic renovations. Some of which were done to the schools in question; the ones that should have been closed years ago. They did this to satisfy their own personal agendas; satisfying their own grudges, personal rivalries, and furthering their own political careers.
They’ve made such a mess of things that there is no easy way out. The only way for us to more forward is to make the hard decisions and close those schools. As far as for which schools should be closed there is some reasonable debate over the choices, except for one. Cleveland Elementary definitely needs to go, it is the only school out of the ones being discussed that has not been renovated and will require a large sum of money to fix the issues with the building. It is also the largest of the buildings in question yet still has a very small number of students = higher upkeep and utilities cost per student. Unfortunately, since the principal there is on the board of supervisors (can you say conflict of interest) the right decisions will probably not be made.
Perhaps more important than the current situation is that the community needs to hold the school board accountable for their actions and get new leadership. We need intelligent, educated people on our board. Some of them haven’t even graduated high school, yet they are entrusted with a multimillion dollar budget and the lives and futures of all the employees of our county’s largest employer.
onesharpcookie

Lebanon, VA

#2 May 14, 2012
How many 1st grade children can "you" teach in one class room? I think we should just add on to the Government building.......... Yah that would help!!!!!!We could hire more Government workers and that would build up our tax base and then next year we could add more Government workers and get another increase in our tax base. See where I'm going? Hey let's just turn all our schools into Government buildings and fill them full of our friends and family and then everyone would be so rich you wouldn't need an education!!!!!!!!!! You see where I'm going now don't you.
Accountability wrote:
Accountability,
Everyone is very concerned about the possibility of pay cuts and the closing of schools, and they seem to think that if they rant, rave, and demand enough they can just make these things go away. But if the money isn’t there, is just isn’t there and a decision has to be made. Yes raising taxes would help, but not for this fiscal year.
To me it seems like only solution would be the closing of schools. The schools that are being considered for closure are an unnecessary burden on the school boards budged and should have been shut down years ago. They remained open at the whims of the school board who’s only concern was to further their own political careers.
Everyone needs to realize what is at stake as far as the local economy is concerned. As the largest employer in Russell County, if the school board decides to cut salaries they are also hurting the local economy and tax base. What happens then? There is even less money in the budget than this year. What’s the solution; cut salaries again, the result next year? You can see where I’m going.
Now, the other thing we all need to think about is how did we get in this situation to begin with? Poor leadership. During the school system’s hiring freeze the school board continued to hire. Who did they hire? More of their friends and family. Our school board took out loans and wasted millions of dollars on cosmetic renovations. Some of which were done to the schools in question; the ones that should have been closed years ago. They did this to satisfy their own personal agendas; satisfying their own grudges, personal rivalries, and furthering their own political careers.
They’ve made such a mess of things that there is no easy way out. The only way for us to more forward is to make the hard decisions and close those schools. As far as for which schools should be closed there is some reasonable debate over the choices, except for one. Cleveland Elementary definitely needs to go, it is the only school out of the ones being discussed that has not been renovated and will require a large sum of money to fix the issues with the building. It is also the largest of the buildings in question yet still has a very small number of students = higher upkeep and utilities cost per student. Unfortunately, since the principal there is on the board of supervisors (can you say conflict of interest) the right decisions will probably not be made.
Perhaps more important than the current situation is that the community needs to hold the school board accountable for their actions and get new leadership. We need intelligent, educated people on our board. Some of them haven’t even graduated high school, yet they are entrusted with a multimillion dollar budget and the lives and futures of all the employees of our county’s largest employer.
maybe

Lebanon, VA

#3 May 14, 2012
I'm not sure they can close the school the renovations were done to or they will have to pay back more money from what I have heard. Renovations were done to Belfast not Elk Garden, Belfast isn't being closed. My kids go to Elk Garden, I hate to lose the school because our kids have the best test scores on SOL's in the county. The teacher are wonderful, can't say I care for the administration there, well actually I think she's the worst thing that's happened to those schools. But that's a different story. I hate to see them close but in this economy you have to do what you have to do. I don't see how anyone complaining about it going to make them change their minds if that's what they decide to do.
ernie

Richlands, VA

#4 May 14, 2012
onesharpcookie wrote:
How many 1st grade children can "you" teach in one class room? I think we should just add on to the Government building.......... Yah that would help!!!!!!We could hire more Government workers and that would build up our tax base and then next year we could add more Government workers and get another increase in our tax base. See where I'm going? Hey let's just turn all our schools into Government buildings and fill them full of our friends and family and then everyone would be so rich you wouldn't need an education!!!!!!!!!! You see where I'm going now don't you.<quoted text>
Got news for you....you ain't so damn sharp....and that is the way the cookie crumbles......
Best School

United States

#5 May 14, 2012
Just to let you know. If the school board would have fixed the problems with the school when it happened, it would not take as much money to fix.
Also, look at the top students in the graduating class, they are from the smaller schools because they get a more sound academic education.
The school has alot of advantages to the other schools
Also, everyone always wants to talk about the kids having to go across the mountain, but no one ever cares about the Cleveland students having to ride the bus across to Lebanon
Accountability wrote:
Accountability,
Everyone is very concerned about the possibility of pay cuts and the closing of schools, and they seem to think that if they rant, rave, and demand enough they can just make these things go away. But if the money isn’t there, is just isn’t there and a decision has to be made. Yes raising taxes would help, but not for this fiscal year.
To me it seems like only solution would be the closing of schools. The schools that are being considered for closure are an unnecessary burden on the school boards budged and should have been shut down years ago. They remained open at the whims of the school board who’s only concern was to further their own political careers.
Everyone needs to realize what is at stake as far as the local economy is concerned. As the largest employer in Russell County, if the school board decides to cut salaries they are also hurting the local economy and tax base. What happens then? There is even less money in the budget than this year. What’s the solution; cut salaries again, the result next year? You can see where I’m going.
Now, the other thing we all need to think about is how did we get in this situation to begin with? Poor leadership. During the school system’s hiring freeze the school board continued to hire. Who did they hire? More of their friends and family. Our school board took out loans and wasted millions of dollars on cosmetic renovations. Some of which were done to the schools in question; the ones that should have been closed years ago. They did this to satisfy their own personal agendas; satisfying their own grudges, personal rivalries, and furthering their own political careers.
They’ve made such a mess of things that there is no easy way out. The only way for us to more forward is to make the hard decisions and close those schools. As far as for which schools should be closed there is some reasonable debate over the choices, except for one. Cleveland Elementary definitely needs to go, it is the only school out of the ones being discussed that has not been renovated and will require a large sum of money to fix the issues with the building. It is also the largest of the buildings in question yet still has a very small number of students = higher upkeep and utilities cost per student. Unfortunately, since the principal there is on the board of supervisors (can you say conflict of interest) the right decisions will probably not be made.
Perhaps more important than the current situation is that the community needs to hold the school board accountable for their actions and get new leadership. We need intelligent, educated people on our board. Some of them haven’t even graduated high school, yet they are entrusted with a multimillion dollar budget and the lives and futures of all the employees of our county’s largest employer.
Facts

Roanoke, VA

#6 May 14, 2012
We have more people in Russell County that are over 65 years old than we do in our school system in grades K-12. Nothing wrong with that, that is just a fact. Look at Honaker and Castlewood graduating class this year very small compared to years past. I believe in my lifetime we will see ONE high school in Russell County. We just don't have the student body for all the schools we have. We have 13 total schools in the county for 4,430 students. People are not moving into the county that have children, retirees are moving back home. Bottom line is WE the tax payers do NOT want to support the schools and teachers we have.
teacher

Charlotte, NC

#7 May 15, 2012
Best School wrote:
<quoted text>Just to let you know. If the school board would have fixed the problems with the school when it happened, it would not take as much money to fix.
Also, look at the top students in the graduating class, they are from the smaller schools because they get a more sound academic education.
The school has alot of advantages to the other schools
Also, everyone always wants to talk about the kids having to go across the mountain, but no one ever cares about the Cleveland students having to ride the bus across to Lebanon
I would like to say first that no one wants to see the smaller schools close. Studies have shown smaller class sizes are better but times are rough and we have to look forward and closing these 3 schools is part of the answer.

I would also like to say that I take offense to the parents that think their child will only get a good education at the small schools. I teach a classroom of 23 kids just about every year and they have a great education also. I also have to teach the special Ed students and behavior students that the smaller school don't have. If a student needs any type of additional help at school they are sent to Lebanon, Honaker or castlewood. If I had a classroom of only "normal" kids it would be a lot easier. But I teach them all because that is what I do. Does that make me a better teacher? No. It just means your child will get a good education.

The students in these small schools will eventually have to get on a bus to ride to a bigger school. It will just happen a little sooner. The teachers will still have their jobs. Just in a different building.

It isn't the building that matters.....it is what is inside. The teachers doing their best to educate the minds of tomorrow.
Resident

Lebanon, VA

#8 May 15, 2012
I dont want any of the small schools closed down myself, the smaller schools in our area are the best ones we have! I think they need to lay off some teachers, there are so many useless positions in the schools anyway that are taking up money, like stem and tech lab and teachers aides and tutors come on let the homeroom teacher do what they are paid to do, teach and get rid of the positions that are meant to make the teachers day easier!
yom

Abingdon, VA

#9 May 15, 2012
Resident wrote:
I dont want any of the small schools closed down myself, the smaller schools in our area are the best ones we have! I think they need to lay off some teachers, there are so many useless positions in the schools anyway that are taking up money, like stem and tech lab and teachers aides and tutors come on let the homeroom teacher do what they are paid to do, teach and get rid of the positions that are meant to make the teachers day easier!
Yeah, because who cares about those people that do those jobs, anyway? I can just callously talk about firing people, and that's all good, as long as you don't take any more of my tax dollars. They can just go out on the streets.:)

Yeah, and those positions are just there to make teachers jobs easier. That must be it! Why, those pesky teachers, who have their degree in education, who continually have to keep abreast of literature on pedagogy and take re-certification classes, unlike me, who think THEY, as well as countless professors and professionals who spend their ENTIRE LIVES studying HOW students learn and researching what students need, know everything. They don't realize that those aide positions just aren't necessary. Why, our smaller schools are the best ones, but by my own twisted use of logic, students, especially LD students, don't need individual help in larger classrooms. Duh!

Boy, I wish everyone would listen to completely unqualified, completely uninformed me. Maybe then Russell County would be even farther BACK in the dark ages when it comes to educating our students for their future challenges.

(Note, in case you missed it: You can't say in one breath that students need the more individualized attention of aides, and, like in other counties around here, collaborative teachers, and in the same breath say we don't need those positions. It's some pretty twisted logic. FYI.)
a mom and i disagree

Lebanon, VA

#10 May 15, 2012
Resident wrote:
I dont want any of the small schools closed down myself, the smaller schools in our area are the best ones we have! I think they need to lay off some teachers, there are so many useless positions in the schools anyway that are taking up money, like stem and tech lab and teachers aides and tutors come on let the homeroom teacher do what they are paid to do, teach and get rid of the positions that are meant to make the teachers day easier!
Let's have a 're-call' and get rid of those school board members who went overboard hiring their friends that resulted in causing a big part of this financial mess. And will someone please explain to me why teachers at high school (could be others) level get paid EXTRA to teach a 6th class. Arent there 7 periods, with one being planning? Why pay them extra to teach the 6th class? Those teachers (not all, but many) are actually being paid a bigger chunk of money than people realize.
pivotal moment

Denver, NC

#11 May 15, 2012
There are two very important aspects to any community for its growth and livlihood. One being jobs and the second being education. As we all know, there are not that many good jobs in the county. Now, our wise leaders are failing our community with education.
I understand most people don't want to pay higher taxes for sound education and just complain about what they do have to pay. I also understand that we obviously don't want young families moving into our county. The direction we are going the schools being open or closed won't really matter. There won't be any qualified teachers left nor that many students left.
Why? Who will want to stay. Teachers will find better places work (in a school system that cares about them) and young families will look elsewhere to live and.
Sad. I love this community. It just doesn't care about me. It does care about those over 80 with all the land and some money. Therefore, don't worry a lot about jobs and less about education. Cut teacher pay and hopefully they will just leave!
Big Cal Huna

Castlewood, VA

#12 May 15, 2012
We in Russell County pay for a vehicle sticker that was supposed to pay for Lebanon High School and then go away. We are still paying and Lebanon High School has long been paid for. We do need to make choices and if the Teachers have to take a pay cut; then all county employees (including Administration and elected officials) should take a pay cut. I didn't hear any of the officials proposing Teacher pay cuts volunteer to take one themselves! It is a crime that our children have to plan their adult lives somewhere besides Russell County! Raising property taxes will not generate enough revenue for this county to operate as it does now. Are the citizens of Russell County getting the bang for their buck that they deserve? I think NOT!
ernie

Richlands, VA

#13 May 15, 2012
Big Cal Huna wrote:
We in Russell County pay for a vehicle sticker that was supposed to pay for Lebanon High School and then go away. We are still paying and Lebanon High School has long been paid for. We do need to make choices and if the Teachers have to take a pay cut; then all county employees (including Administration and elected officials) should take a pay cut. I didn't hear any of the officials proposing Teacher pay cuts volunteer to take one themselves! It is a crime that our children have to plan their adult lives somewhere besides Russell County! Raising property taxes will not generate enough revenue for this county to operate as it does now. Are the citizens of Russell County getting the bang for their buck that they deserve? I think NOT!
What happened to all that money that was found?
Flapjack

Natural Bridge, VA

#14 May 15, 2012
ernie wrote:
<quoted text>What happened to all that money that was found?
My understanding it was returned to Russell County Board of Supervisors, however, there is such a budget shortage for the county they can't give it back. Not only is the School Board bad managers of money, but the Board of Supervisors is just as bad if not worse.

Since: May 12

United States

#15 May 15, 2012
Find the money. Keep the teachers.
Tax Payer

United States

#16 May 15, 2012
One million went back to the school board for new busses and cars and now they are asking for another extra million and half.
What are budgets for?
curious

Honaker, VA

#17 May 15, 2012
I would really like to know where the rest of the money Cleveland Elementary got for improvements? To my understanding, They used very little of it and the rest cannot be found! That's a great magic trick they got going up there! Losing money! Finding money! Sounds to me like instead of the clowns on the board that obvously cannot count, we need to lose them and start fresh!
See the light

Blacksburg, VA

#18 May 15, 2012
The population of Russell County in Year 2000 was 30,308 in 2010 the population was 28,879 a decline of 4.7%. In the year 2000 the top employer in Russell County was coal mines, in year 2010 the top employer was Wal-Mart. There is a huge difference in what coal mining pays compared to Wal-Mart. With the population decline and the tax base decline we have NO CHOICE but to consolidate schools. I rode a bus from the head of Hearts Creek several miles up Back Valley to Lebanon High School for 4 years it didn't kill me and that was years ago. Buchanan County sees the light, Dickenson County sees the light, Wise County sees the light, are the people of Russell County that blind that we cannot see the light.
Resident

Lebanon, VA

#19 May 16, 2012
a mom and i disagree wrote:
<quoted text>
Let's have a 're-call' and get rid of those school board members who went overboard hiring their friends that resulted in causing a big part of this financial mess. And will someone please explain to me why teachers at high school (could be others) level get paid EXTRA to teach a 6th class. Arent there 7 periods, with one being planning? Why pay them extra to teach the 6th class? Those teachers (not all, but many) are actually being paid a bigger chunk of money than people realize.
They also get paid extra for afterschool and for coaching...and I agree the school board members need to take a pay cut as well!What I was trying to say in my comment before was if the teachers dont want to lose their jobs then the school board should let go of the positions that doesnt even require a degree!I sub and I see first hand how things work, sometimes there are as many as 4 people in a class at one time, one teacher and 2 special education teacher aides and one tutor and for only 18 to 20 students and only 4 of those students were in ld classes!
Resident

Lebanon, VA

#20 May 16, 2012
(Note, in case you missed it: You can't say in one breath that students need the more individualized attention of aides, and, like in other counties around here, collaborative teachers, and in the same breath say we don't need those positions. It's some pretty twisted logic. FYI.

I never said they need more individualized attention from aides, I said that the smaller schools doesnt need to be closed because those smaller schools are the best ones in the county, my child goes to one of those small schools and he has a teacher and one teachers aide in his class and thats great but at the middle school there are tutors, aides and teachers all in a class of 20 students!

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