vanessa-newVanessa Remmers covers Stafford County government and schools for and The Free Lance-Star.

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Board denies school request to move $864,000

What does the school system need $864,000 for? That’s the question that supervisors want to get answered.

The schools have requested a transfer in the current year’s budget of $864,000 from the Instruction/Technology category to the Other category, which includes administration.

But Tuesday night, supervisors denied this request, after months of debate.

“We’ve probably spent close to $864,000 in staff time debating the issue,” said interim supervisor Ty Schieber, who used to be on the School Board. He is in a unique position, being on both board. He asked the supervisors to give the schools some control over their own budget. “Schools typically receive the money where they ask for it,” Schieber said.

Schieber and Jack Cavalier voted for the reallocation of the funds; the remaining five supervisors voted against it, meaning the money remains in the Instruction/Technology category.

Cord Sterling, chairman of the Finance, Budget and Audit Committee , said this “misunderstanding” follows many others the past few years with the school budget. “Yes, this is tossing them an ‘Easy’ button. There has been nothing done to fix the problems. Nothing has been done to date to fix the situation. It has to be fixed,” Sterling said.

The transfer was discussed last month at a Finance, Budget and Audit Committee meeting. Board Chairman Susan Stimpson said she asked the Chief Financial Officer of the school system what the money would be used for. The only response: Carpet.

Gary Snellings said “carpet” was the key word in making his decision against reallocating the money. “The CFO of the school board is going to take $864,000 out of the classroom. He’s going to use it for carpet. I can’t support doing that. I don’t enjoy voting to control their budget. But I’m not going to vote for carpet.”

The school board meets Wednesday evening in a work session to discuss its fiscal 2013 budget.