Stafford school board votes against Embrey Mill site — again

by | Mar 6, 2024 | ALLFFP, News, Schools & Education, Stafford

An outcry from families at the Stafford County School Board meeting Tuesday night along with a letter from the Stafford County Board of Supervisors was not enough to sway the school board to rescind its earlier vote to build elementary school No. 19 at the Brooke Point site.

The school board shot down a motion made by Griffis-Widewater District representative Elizabeth Warner to rescind its earlier vote, instead voting, 4-3, to keep the planned construction in place. The board was being pressured by the supervisors and members of the community to move the site to the Embrey Mill subdivision. A motion to pause construction at the Brooke Point site also failed.

“I think that there has been enough concern expressed regarding the location of elementary school 19 at Brooke Point, the impact it will have on traffic, on the school site itself and the potential risks that are associated with having three schools on that site,” Warner said.

Maya Guy, the Aquia district representative, said she believes it is important for the school board to work cooperatively with the board of supervisors since they provide funding.

“They do have a say in what goes on in this county,” she said.

Chairperson Maureen Siegmund of the Garrisonville District pointed out that parliamentary procedures require the board to rescind a prior vote with a two-thirds majority.

Others on the board, however, were not interested in changing their stance.

Hartwood District representative Alyssa Halstead said careful thought went into the previous 6-1 decision. She said that if anyone felt rushed they could’ve voted against the Brooke Point site. She said no new information has come to the forefront since the decision was made and that to reexamine everything after starting work at the site would be a setback.

“We have a school that we all voted on, and I’m truly sorry that people think that isn’t transparent, but it was not overnight,” Halstead said. “It was actually over months and those agendas are published … this board met multiple times to look at the sites and discuss the variabilities for growth in the future. There are 2,113 homes coming between the Hartwood and George Washington districts … Where are we putting those kids?”

The two boards will meet Thursday at 4 p.m. for a joint session, commonly called 7-on-7, at the Courthouse Community Center.

Superintendent Thomas Taylor thanked members of the audience and those watching the meeting online.

“No one takes it lightly that you have given up dinner or family time to be with us, for these strained conversations. This should be a happy time, as we approach spring break,” Taylor said.

Taylor went on to say that addressing overcrowding and having adequate resources are necessary to move the school division forward. He said teachers and students need continued support. He said it was “painful” to know that the board of supervisors’ Tuesday decision on the real estate tax rate is going to greatly impact the school division.

Taylor shared that the advertised real estate tax rate of 91 cents per $100 of assessed value approved by the board of supervisors was not enough to address the school system’s problems.

“I find it disheartening that they did not even entertain the school system’s request,” he said. “They noted that they had about $11 million in unfunded requests that didn’t make it into the budget, and I believe them. But it’s really disappointing that they overlooked the over $50 million in cuts this board made in that proposal to them.”

“We are cutting into bone and are in a hole that we can’t dig out of without additional resources. This community needs to turn a corner for our kids and teachers — they are really struggling.”

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