Micromanagement or prudence?

Published 10:31 am Friday, May 22, 2009

The Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors would be well within its rights to exercise greater oversight of the county school division’s budget.

The school board has taken great umbrage at the notion of some supervisors to approve the schools’ fiscal 2010 budget by category rather than in lump sum. Categorical approval would in turn require the schools to get supervisors’ permission before shifting funds from one budget category to another during the year.

The school board’s majority complains that this is unnecessary micromanagement and that the current system, which allows Superintendent Michael McPherson to make fund transfers and report them later to the school board, is working fine. School board member Herb DeGroft, who is at odds with the rest of the board, encouraged supervisors to exercise their option for categorical approval.

The option of approving a school budget by category is clearly spelled out in state law. The lawmakers who passed the statute obviously wanted supervisors to have the tool if they wished to use it, though most counties don’t.

As the elected body that levies the property taxes that help fund the schools, the Board of Supervisors should have the ability to monitor the use of those tax dollars as closely as it sees fit. The school board shouldn’t take it personally.