Schools to pursue $40,000 in unpaid cafeteria tabs

Schools to pursue $40,000 in unpaid cafeteria tabs

By Ruthann Carr, correspondent

The School Board directed Superintendent Chuck Winkler to get details on having a collection agency or lawyer help retrieve more than $40,000 owed for food service bills.

At Wednesday’s (July 11) regularly scheduled meeting, the Board debated how to collect the money, which reached a record high in the 2017-18 school year.

Winkler said per Virginia code the school can carry the debt for a year, then must pay it off.

Brenda Gilliam, director of instruction and finance, said Virginia does not allow schools to attach the debt to a person’s tax liability.

Gilliam said one option suggested was to contract with a lawyer or agency to collect the money. The school would then get a portion of what was collected.

Shirley Stewart (Rivanna) said she was okay with that as long as it didn’t have a “negative impact on staff and schools and the relationship between the staff and students.”

Andrew Pullen (Columbia) encouraged Winkler to look into collections because “in every other aspect of life if you don’t pay” there are repercussions.

Charles Rittenhouse (Cunningham) agreed. “It’s not fair to taxpayers to pay for others’ food,” he said.

In other news, Pullen asked Winkler to see if it’s possible to set up a central bus pick-up and drop-off point for students. He said many of his constituents whose children have long bus rides suggested the ARC in Kents Store as a site.

Winkler said he’d look into it.

The superintendent shared the full staff survey with the Board, including comments. Any comment naming someone specific was redacted.

Among the comments concerning what can be improved, more than 50 dealt with discipline and the need for more consistent, fair and timely discipline. Other topics frequently mentioned were:

  • Better communication;
  • More access to technology;
  • More support staff;
  • Less testing;
  • Smaller class size; and
  • Concerns about building maintenance, safety and cleanliness.

Winkler said he met with representatives of Trane who made energy improvements throughout the school buildings last year. So far, while there have been savings, they haven’t been at the level Trane guaranteed.

Because the 2018-19 budget is so tight and is built on the expected energy savings, Winkler said they are keeping an eye on it. They will continue to talk with Trane representatives to make sure they fulfill the savings goal.

When it came to allocating $6,943.71 for Virginia School Board Association (VSBA) dues, the Board had a discussion.

Winkler said being a member of VSBA gives the Board a lot of benefits, including use of the Board Docs computer system, legal advice and policy access.

Pullen said he fundamentally does not like using taxpayer money to pay for VSBA lobbying.

When Winkler pointed out another advantage of being a member is reduced conference fees, Rittenhouse said they still have to pay to attend the conference.

Stewart said she supports Fluvanna’s “continued use of VSBA.” Brenda Pace (Palmyra) concurred.

The Board voted 3-0 to pay the VSBA dues. Pullen abstained. Board Chair Perrie Johnson was not at the meeting.

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