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Stafford looking at sharing some services

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As the dust settled on a budget season in which Stafford County schools cut $17 million from their spending plan after requesting $20 million more from the county, a committee of School Board members and the Board of Supervisors took action Monday night on what had been a long-standing discussion topic for saving costs.

The committee recommended a review that will look at potential shared services between the schools and local government.

A resolution that will direct staff to hire a consultant to perform the study will come before both boards at their meetings in June.

How much the study would cost is still unclear, but the committee agreed that the schools and the county should split the cost evenly.

The committee also agreed that an outside party should perform the review to avoid turf issues and to get an independent perspective.

The study would be separate from the $100,000 efficiency review recently approved by the School Board.

It is not the first time that the concept of shared services has been discussed, but it is the first time that the committee has taken action on the topic.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Jack Cavalier said it was time to take action, adding that he has discussed shared services many times before.

At the committee meeting, County Administrator Anthony Romanello produced a memo he sent to former School Superintendent Randy Bridges in December 2010 when Bridges first entered office. The memo outlined 43 potential items where the county and schools could share services.

Some of those areas included:

  • Joint contracts for construction, maintenance and repair projects
  • Joint audit services
  • Health care benefit consulting
  • Network infrastructure in information technology.

Romanello also listed 35 examples of where the two entities already have shared services including:

  • The courthouse streetscape project
  • Athletic field usage
  • Fire and EMS education and training in high schools.

The memo didn’t specify how much could be saved by sharing all the suggested services.

“We have to be careful with how we approach this,” School Board member Irene Egan said. “We have to sell it.”

Egan said she has received some calls questioning the $100,000 budgeted for the efficiency review at the same time that positions were cut.

School Superintendent Bruce Benson has said that collaboration with local government is important moving forward, and that shared services should be discussed with the Board of Supervisors.

Egan, Nanette Kidby, Dewayne McOsker, Scott Hirons and Holly Hazard represented the School Board at the committee meeting. Cavalier and Meg Bohmke represented the Board of Supervisors.

Vanessa Remmers: 540/735-1975

vremmers@freelancestar.com

 

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