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Stafford County looks to share services

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Budget negotiations have, at times, led to tense relations between the Stafford County Board of Supervisors and School Board, but a resolution adopted by supervisors Tuesday signaled a move toward greater collaboration between the schools and county.

The supervisors unanimously adopted a resolution that will allow county and school staff to select a consulting firm to complete a study that will look at services that can be shared between the county government and schools.

The cost of the study cannot exceed $50,000. The schools and county will split the cost evenly. The resolution will also come before the School Board for approval in June.

The idea of sharing more services had been a longstanding discussion topic at a committee made up of some supervisors and School Board members. At a recent committee meeting, Board of Supervisors Chairman Jack Cavalier said the topic had been discussed many times and that it’s time to take action.

The decision comes about two months after School Superintendent Bruce Benson arrived. Benson has made a goal of meeting with every supervisor, an approach that some supervisors said had not been done by previous superintendents.

At the meeting Tuesday, the supervisors acknowledged that they had met with Benson.

Benson has said that greater collaboration between the county and school is important and that shared services specifically should be looked at as a cost-saving measure.

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 audit services, health care benefit consulting and 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 and Fire and EMS education and training in high schools.

According to a county staff report, the resolution would be “building on the long tradition of shared services and collaboration between the County’s Government and the Schools’ Division.”

The results of the study will have to be brought to the boards by the end of the year.

It is unclear how much money could be saved by sharing services.

The supervisors’ vote was made in front of several Stafford teachers in the audience on Tuesday who displayed posters indicating that Stafford teachers have to take second jobs to make ends meet.

The study is different from the $100,000 efficiency study the School Board approved in its adopted budget.

Vanessa Remmers: 540/735-1975

vremmers@freelancestar.com

 

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