Participation was light during the Hanover Board of Supervisors’ annual budget public hearing April 3.
Ten speakers addressed the board, most of them to advocate on behalf of the public schools and public safety.
The first speaker, however, recommended cutting the schools’ budget by 10 percent.
Larnie Allgood, Cold Harbor District resident, criticized the “education lobby.” The teachers who have been requesting more funding for schools, he said, “are taking their marching orders from the teacher unions.”
Virginia has no such unions, but it does have professional associations.
“Flooding every public meeting with students and school personnel is a union tactic. Supporting a very liberal curriculum in the classroom is a union tactic,” Allgood said.
Patti Davis, a Beaverdam resident, said she was not a union member, just a taxpayer and a parent.
“Efficiency is important, and you are stewards of county money. I appreciate your frugality. But there are times when pinching pennies becomes problematic, that we pay more in the long run for being frugal,” Davis told the supervisors.
She said she could support a meals tax, even a temporary one, if those funds would go toward education and public safety.
Bob Bailie, Chickahominy District resident, commended the Hanover Sheriff’s Office and urged the board to “be as generous” as possible to the department.
“Prior to my retirement, I was the chief executive officer of a national company, and crime was a problem for our business almost every place we operated except Hanover County,” Bailie said.
“I talk to many of my neighbors, and I think that they think that what we have in Hanover is the way it is everywhere. That’s just not the case,” he added.
Gianna Clark, vice president of the Hanover Education Foundation, and Owen Matthews, chair of the superintendent’s business advisory committee, both spoke in support of the School Board’s adopted budget for 2013-14.
John Szewczyk, representing Hanover Professional Educators, urged the supervisors to raise the real estate tax rate and devote those funds to education.
“The fact is Hanover schools have already had to make due with much less. …
“The consequences are becoming more apparent with each passing day. Our best and brightest teachers are looking for jobs in neighboring school districts, where they can receive better salaries, benefits, more reasonable class sizes, and, if they are high school teachers, only five classes,” he said, referring to the school system’s plan to realign the high school bell schedule into eight periods, with teachers taking responsibility for a sixth period.
Szewcyzk said teachers seek increased revenue to maintain the status quo in terms of class sizes and high school teacher schedules. They are not requesting salary increases.
The Board of Supervisors is considering a $372.6 million budget for Fiscal Year 2014. The proposal recommends no property tax increases.
The board is scheduled to act on the budget at its April 10 meeting, which begins at 2 p.m. at the County Administration Building.