School Board deserves respect

Published 10:12 pm Monday, August 19, 2013

I am not sure how many readers have had the opportunity to view the video for the joint education retreat held on Aug. 14. I think Aretha Franklin said it best; all the School Board needs is a little R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

Our City Council repeatedly showed how they thought they could do a better job than the School Board.

Time after time, I saw representatives of the School Board present information, only to have council members challenge either the accuracy or validity of the information. Council members repeatedly volunteered how they would have done things better.


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School Board members stated that the $5,000 difference in salaries between some teachers in Suffolk and their counterparts in other localities in Tidewater was significant. Council members quoted a $1,500 number and stated it was a minor difference.

Councilman Duman suggested teacher salaries could be increased with money saved by charging them more for their health costs.

School Board members tactfully remind their council counterparts that they too were elected officials. I thought it significant that School Board members refrained from telling council that they would not have engaged in fraud like the council did.

This year’s budget saw City Council claim the $143 million schools budget was 50 percent of the $514 million total budget. Also significant was the fact that while this year’s council budget numbers were obscured with smoke and mirrors, the School Board presenters went out of their way to qualify their numbers.

It is clear to me that our City Council does not respect the elected members of our School Board. Council members repeatedly failed to take the word of their School Board counterparts.

Respect starts with trust. It is the School Board members who have cause to mistrust the City Council, given the history of council members making false and misleading statements.

Instead of our City Council attempting to micromanage the schools’ budget, it should actually allocate the 50 percent of the budget to schools that it claims. The School Board should be able to make do with $257 million, and if it cannot do so, there would be no excuses.

Chris Dove lives in Suffolk. Email him at