Time to End Elected School Boards?

Delegates Dave Albo and Tim Hugo think so… courtesy of the WaPo Virginia Politics Blog:

Concerned that school boards have the authority to spend taxpayer money without the corresponding responsibility of setting tax rates, Del. Tim Hugo (R) said he drafted legislation in preparation for this year’s recently concluded legislative session that would have allowed county supervisors to dissolve elected school boards.

I could not agree more.  After 18 years of school budgets doubling (and in some cases, tripling) from elected school boards with the power to spend without a corresponding power to tax has turned many into irresponsible teenagers — credit cards in hand, but little responsibility to the taxpayers who must fund their decisions, whether for good or ill, responsible or irresponsible.

“If I had one vote in my 18 years to take back, it would be elected school boards,” he said. “Because they just don’t work.”

Albo said he has no problem with the current members of the Fairfax board — indeed, he praised them for holding the toughest elected position in Virginia, since all of their decisions have direct impacts on people’s kids. But he described as unworkable a system where school boards spend money that supervisors must collect through taxes.

Albo saves the best for last, and this right here is the problem in a nutshell:

“They come up with the budget, and then they basically rag on the county for not funding them properly,” he (Albo) continued. “The school board people never have to go into someone’s pocket and take out the taxes. The county supervisors are in this horrible position every year of the school board saying, ‘You guys are cutting education.’ “


…and the drama plays out in every Virginia locality all across the commonwealth.  The victims of these regressive real estate tax hikes?  Fixed income families, renters, working families, farmers scraping by facing EPA regulations and the rising cost of gasoline, and potential homebuyers who now find the American dream a little further out of reach — all victims of increased property taxes.

The worst part?  No one dares mentions the pawns in the game.  Namely our students, who are then handicapped for life by one of the worst performing education systems in the industrialized world.

I sincerely hope that Delegates Albo and Hugo extend this right to all elected Boards of Supervisors in Virginia.  The experiment is over — either give the School Boards their own taxing authority and hold them accountable to taxpayers, or make them appointed positions held by those who are responsible to taxpayers.

The status quo?  It cannot continue any longer.  Virginia’s taxpayers and students deserve far better.

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