F.C. School Board Angered by City Demand Security Costs Be Recouped

All six members of the Falls Church School Board and Superintendent Dr. Toni Jones expressed strongly worded concerns ranging from “disappointed” to “appalled,” “shocked” and “flabbergasted” as the contents of a memo they received over the signature of F.C. City Manager Wyatt Shields this week suggesting that their request to dip into their fund balance for $1.2 million to meet some urgent needs, including for security in the wake of recent school shootings, be deducted from whatever the schools’ request for Fiscal Year 2014 funding from the City.

Board members questioned where the language calling for the repayment came from, since it was not discussed in such terms at the joint meeting of the Council and School Board last week, and was not the subject of any Council-wide vote.

Veteran board member Kieran Sharpe, who has also served on the City Council, called the demands in the letter “edicts without any votes,” noting there was “no communication with us (the School Board-ed.) or invitation to discuss it.” He added, “The process is abysmal,” noting that after the School Board left the joint work session last week, members of the Council discussed the future of school properties among themselves and one proclaimed that the Council “conclusively decided ‘no'” on the idea of moving the site of Mt. Daniel.

“This is not a fair reckoning or communication with us over how we decide these things,” Sharpe charged, adding, as far as he was concerned, the Mt. Daniel option “remains on the table.”

Board member Justin Castillo asked, “Where did that mandate arise?” He called it a “hijacking of the normal process,” and said he couldn’t believe everyone on the Council supported the memo. “It boggles my mind,” he said.

Board member Greg Rasnake said he resented being “lectured” by the Council in the memo, and said the memo’s “expectation” that the School Board pay for the urgent needs out of their FY 14 budget was “flabbergasting.”

Board chair Susan Kearney said she will draft a letter to the Council expressing the board’s sentiments, which should be received before the Council is due to vote on the matter at its next regular business meeting next Monday, Jan. 28.