The Manassas City School Board has voted unanimously to reject the amended 'categorized' budget approved by city council because it could "potentially cripple" school operations, according to Board Vice Chair Art Bushnell.
Bushnell said the council asked the school board for a categorized budget for the first time ever. He said traditionally the school board's received their budget in a lump sum because that is what city policy says the city is supposed to do per the schools revenue sharing agreement. The more favorable lump sum method allows the schools the flexibility they need to move money around when and where they need it.
"[The board] struck down the proposal because a categorized budget would make it difficult to redistribute money as needed," Bushnell said. "If the school system needed to hire more teachers before the start of the school year, they would need permission to do so, and council doesn't meet in August. We would have to wait two weeks to a month in some cases, and this would significantly slow things down."
The board voted 6-0 against the amended categorized budget, but voted 6-0 in favor of approving the $98 million school board budget approved by council. The $98 million budget did not include $3 million dollars for capital improvement projects, including a possible replacement for Baldwin Elementary and new central administrative offices.
Despite voting against the categorized budget, the school board hopes to maintain the friendly relationship they have had with the council in recent years.
Mayor Hal Parrish acknowledged at Monday night's council meeting he received a letter from School Board Chair Scott Albrecht asking the council to reconsider its action towards the categorization of the school board's budget. Parrish said the categorization was supported by council in order to allow flexibility in regards to the $3 million in capital improvement funds requested by the board, but ultimately not approved by council.
"This mayor does not have any interest in determining how the schools transfer money within their budgets," Parrish said. But Parrish did say he supports the action taken by the council because there needs to be "more work done regarding the $3 million" because it is unclear what the board's plan is for capital improvement in the city.
Parrish said he is currently working with the school board, council and city manager on the next step towards resolving the issue.