In an effort to reduce the likelihood of “surprises” in future funding requests, members of the Williamsburg-James City County School Board, James City County Board of Supervisors and Williamsburg City Council agreed to improve its communication outside of the budget season through a joint committee.
The decision came as part of a meeting of the three boards Friday at the Stryker Center, where all members of each board, as well as WJCC Superintendent Steven Constantino, James City County Administrator Bryan Hill and City Manager Marvin Collins met to hear a presentation from the schools administration regarding its proposed budget for fiscal 2017, which begins July 1.
Funding transfers from both James City County and the City of Williamsburg make up the majority of the WJCC Schools budget each year. The school board approved its budget in March. The city’s budget proposal, which is slated for adoption May 12, fully funds the schools request; the JCC proposal, which is scheduled for adoption May 10, does not.
After a discussion regarding the prioritization of the Lafayette High School auxiliary gym – and its yearslong delay because of cuts to the Capital Improvements Program during the recession – over replacing the HVAC system at Norge Elementary School, City Mayor Clyde Haulman suggested the boards solve an apparent communication problem “so that these things can be put on the table and there are no surprises coming into the future.”
The school board’s approved budget includes funding for an auxiliary gym; Hill’s proposed budget for JCC does not, instead allocating money to replace Norge Elementary’s HVAC system – a request the school board included in the Capital Improvements Program for fiscal 2018.
“[Re-establishing the committee] provides a framework for us to move forward with where that communication that has been a large focus of this meeting can take place,” Haulman said. “I think it can be useful for all of us, but particularly for the kids that we serve, and that’s what this is all about.”
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Haulman recommended the boards re-establish the School Liaison Committee and set a regular schedule for the meetings so they do not again fall by the wayside. It is unclear when or why the committee disbanded in recent years.
The committee would have the same makeup as it has in the past: two representatives of each board – including the chairperson for both the JCC supervisors and school board, as well as the city mayor – as well as the schools superintendent, city manager and county administrator.
Supervisor John McGlennon (Roberts) suggested the responsibilities for setting up the meetings and their agendas should be shared among the committee’s members, rather than relying solely on the school board members.
“This group of smart individuals who can come together and have more meetings, and the citizens will understand what we’re doing a little bit more and it won’t be a surprise when we get to certain things,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Michael Hipple (Powhatan) said.
Though no official vote was taken, there was no objection to the suggestion. After the meeting, Haulman said he believed the committee had been officially re-established through Friday’s discussion, and he would work with City Manager Marvin Collins to ensure the committee is convened.
During the meeting, Haulman also suggested the JCC supervisors and their district counterparts on the school board meet regularly as City Council does with its two appointed school board members.
Supervisor Ruth Larson (Berkeley), who served on the school board until her November election to the Board of Supervisors, confirmed supervisors and their counterparts do not meet regularly but the school board chairmen, school board member Jim Kelly (Jamestown) and Hipple, do.
The three administrators – Constantino, Hill and Collins – also meet regularly.
The School Liaison Committee’s next meeting was not set during Friday’s discussion.