School budget needs scrutiny
The Nelson County Public Schools Superintendent’s Recommended Operation Budget for Fiscal Year 2019/2020 for an estimated 1,712 students is $29,157,466, a 6.9 percent increase. The budget is 35 pages long, and I dare say very few citizens have taken the time to look at the costs. The recommended budget, if approved as submitted, comes to $17,031 in expenditures per student. The national average expenditure per student is around $10,900 while the average in Virginia is around $11,400. The biggest increase in cost is an 18.8 percent increase in health insurance premiums.
The recommended budget has many higher-level employees receiving anywhere from 5 percent to 8 percent increases. An example: The food service director was to receive a 5.67 percent increase while the cafeteria managers would receive a 1.22 percent raise and the food service workers were to receive 0.92 percent (that’s appalling). The director of technology salary is currently $97,000 with a suggested 3 percent increase which would put the director of technology salary at $100,635.32.
The Appomattox County School Division has around 2,300 students. Like Nelson County, they have one high school, one middle school and two elementary schools. All four of those schools are fully accredited by the Virginia Department of Education. Their budget for 2019 is $22.5 million for a school system with 500 more students than Nelson and average expenditures of $9,700 per child.
Buckingham County Public Schools 2018/19 budget is $25,145,000 for 2,023 students; that’s $12,332 per child. Buckingham also has the same number of schools as Nelson County. You can go to the Buckingham County Public Schools website and see details of their budget expenditures and revenue as well as cost for the past five years and their proposed budget: https://www.bcpschools.org/departments/finance.
The average Virginia school teacher salary is $51,049 (depending on the source). The following are high school teacher salaries in some of the Virginia counties: Nelson County, $52,694; Amherst County, $46,313; Bland County, $41,239; Buckingham County, $48,824; Craig County, $41,450; Giles County, $41,398; Madison County, $48,737; and Page County, $48,834.
Why is Nelson County spending $5 million more than Buckingham County Public Schools which has 300 more students? Why is Nelson County spending $7 million more than Appomattox County Schools which has 500 more students? Why is Nelson County expenditures per child $5,631 higher than the average expenditure per child across the state of Virginia? The Board of Supervisors and the residents of Nelson County have supported the school system and for those who say they are not is a misrepresentation of the facts.
Pass a dog ordinance now
The other day, I read about yet another vicious dog attack taking place here in Nelson County. The incident involved an 18-month-old child who was attacked and seriously injured by a dog. Approximately three weeks ago, a woman here in Schuyler was attacked by a dog and seriously injured.
These aren’t infrequent incidents; they happen often and yet the Nelson County Board of Supervisors has failed to pass an effective ordinance to address this problem. The word that comes to my mind is malfeasance. This inaction is nothing less than misconduct by these public officials by failing to protect those citizens threatened or attacked by dangerous at loose dogs.
This is not an issue of a problem with hunting dogs. These hunters are the model or responsible dog owners. The problem is with individuals who fail to properly control dangerous dogs; it’s that simple. Do something now, supervisors, or face answering to a family for a death caused by a vicious dog.
Voting is key to change
Bob Dewey is right about “We the people.” There, I have said it. We have come to the point where we respond to the politicians, they don’t respond to us except for a very narrow slice of us called “the base.” And with gerrymandering, the politicians literally choose us person by person, neighborhood by neighborhood. There is one solution, and that is voting. In the recently 2018 midterms a little over 50 percent voted and the last time that happened was in 1918. In presidential elections, about 60 percent of us vote. There is evidence that the 2020 election will see close to 70 percent vote. If 70 percent of us voted, if 80 percent of us voted, I guarantee our country would be a different place.
But what Dewey gets wrong is his emphasis on states’ rights. In the past, states’ rights have brought us slavery, Jim Crow, child labor and such. In a modern world, they bring us right-to-work laws and restrictions of women’s reproductive rights. Another thing Dewey gets wrong is somehow equating this all with “socialism.” As far as I understand it, socialism deals with economic arrangements, not political, and there is no reason why a socialistic state could not also be a representative democracy.
Lastly, to David Park of Arrington I want say the Nelson County Times is much more important than just reading the letters of a couple of old guys every week. It is a vital resource for Nelson County. Rural America has enough problems and having a good local newspaper is a great tool to have.
Our future is with our youth
Ah, Memorial Day, when we remember the sacrifices others made to sustain our Constitution and the republic it helped to create. I am today left almost speechless when I consider the pitiful caliber of our current leaders and place them alongside the Churchills and Roosevelts of the past.
Last week, I was most disgusted with Great Britain, one of our two allies in World War II. Prime Minister Teresa May resigned effective June 7 as she has failed to achieve getting Great Britain out of the European Union (EU). She deserved to fail in that endeavor as she refused to subject the matter to a second referendum. The British people were lied to at the level Donald Trump has misled U.S. citizens primarily regarding the glorious emancipation leaving the EU would bring to them. Yes, there would be great economic reward if they could leave the union and still get all the perks of a paying member. Now with May leaving, the British have the opportunity to get a real clown as prime minister as Boris Johnson is said to be her likely replacement. He would be an even worse leader than she has been, and that is saying something.
On this side of the pond, we are being led by the worse president in my lifetime by far. With more than 10,000 lies or misleading statements already credited to him, why anyone would believe a single word out of his mouth is beyond me. He is now fighting hard to prevent his financial past from being exposed. My readings have led me to believe his past is full of known Russian money-laundering, but I wonder if the Republican Party leadership and members care at all that he has committed felonies. The administration members are acting as his enablers and not defenders of the country or the Constitution; they are one big crime family. Republican members of Congress are a collective disgrace.
The Democratic leadership is only marginally better. The Speaker of the House made a little joke last week about the president needing an intervention. Madame Speaker, it is not time for an intervention; it is time for an impeachment. Get off the Democratic fence and call for an official investigation into his actions against the United States. This president is now using the “treason” word; he is firing up his base to remove his enemies, one way or another. His cronies are making abortion illegal again across the country. He’s illegally selling weapons to those who flew the planes on 9/11. What will it take to get you moving? He’s also not able to restrain his warmongers Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton who seem to be leading the U.S. into a war with Iran. Iran is not threatening the security of the U.S. or any ally in any manner I can discern. A war with Iran will almost assuredly require the use of U.S. nuclear weapons to win. Do we want to bring the planet to that brink?
To find rational leadership on this Memorial Day, I look to the youth who are rightly angered that their world is being destroyed by the fossil fuel peddlers of today. This past week, hundreds of thousands of school students globally left their classrooms to call attention to climate change. They are calling for a worldwide general strike on Sept. 20 to get adults involved. I fully support them and their call.
Finally, today I congratulate the Nelson County High School Boys Varsity Soccer Team and their coach, Silas Turner, for a brilliant, undefeated season. You’ve made us proud.
Denigrating the Founders
There has been talk about degrading the honor we traditionally bestow upon our Founders. There is constant discussion about further major structural amendment to our Constitution. It is held that this is the 21st century, and our founding character and principles are no longer relevant.
“We the people” have been complacent in accomplishing our political responsibilities. We have relied upon those in elected office to know what is good for us, opening to the political parties an avenue to an Orwellian “Big Brother and Inner Party” rule. On the voyage to supreme power in 2016, the Democratic Party’s course was interrupted by the call of a nonpolitical leader to the American people “to follow me.” The Republican Party had earlier seen the effect of his call in the Republican presidential primaries.
The Republican Party reluctantly heeded the call. The Democratic Party went to its “Deep State” assets and its propaganda arm, the mainstream media, to begin a counterattack. The negative impact upon the Democratic Party by an alien president’s victory was well understood by the establishment and the offending Deep Staters. The Democratic members of Congress are today in lockstep opposition to everything, and the Republicans have now come out of hiding and have begun responding to the president’s leadership.
Our Founding Fathers understood the problems that could come about in a “great political experiment” to create a nation to be governed by its people, and so structured the Constitution. We have allowed the national political parties to amend the Constitution so as to convert the Congress into a ruling monarchy that has no responsibility to the American people, only to the maintenance of its own political power. The challenge now to the American people is, do you want a monarchy or a republic?