After months of discussion and dissension, and with a four to three vote, the Town Council of Colonial Beach approved level funding for the town school system-for the first quarter of the fiscal year that is. Council members Linda Brubaker, Jim Chiarello and Wanda Goforth voted against the motion to fund the schools at the $2.1 million amount of level funding. Mayor Mike Ham, Vice-Mayor Tommy Edwards, and council members Gary Seeber and Pete Bone voted to fund the schools.
In an email provided to this reporter, Brubaker was obviously upset at the outcome of the meeting stating, “It is obvious that those few are so concerned about the schools that they are willing to deplete our own “rainy day funds” to continue to fund a sinking ship, aka the Schools.” Brubaker also stated that the supporters of the school were a “few from a special interest group.”
Bone’s email to his fellow council members asked that the school be funded at the same amount as the previous year, at least through the first quarter of the fiscal year. He also asked that $25,000 be set aside for marketing the town owned boardwalk property located beside Riverboat.
That property is currently used as a parking lot for the Boardwalk and beachfront areas by the town. There is no charge to park in that lot for up to two hours.
Not only were many adult town citizens in attendance at the meeting, but many Colonial Beach Public School students were on a field trip to learn about town government and how it works. Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) in civics and history set forth that students be taught about government, and how to be interested citizens from as early as kindergarten.
Students from kindergarten to fifth grade took buses from the Oak Grove Baptist Church location and quickly filled the Town Center well past capacity. There were also students from the high school, who were either on a field trip, or signed out of school by parents, at the meeting.
As the room began to overflow, CB Police Chief Libby Legg asked that the room be brought down to the 143 person capacity, or the meeting moved.
Ham called for a vote to move the budget portion of the meeting to the high school. Bone and Brubaker stated they would go with the majority vote, while Chiarello and Goforth voted “Nay” on the move. In the end, with a five to two vote the meeting was moved to 11:30 a.m. at the high school gym.
By the time everyone filed into the gym, one entire side of the bleachers was filled with parents, students, teachers and local concerned citizens. More than 300 town citizens were gathered to hear the town council discuss the school budget.
As the meeting began again, school board chair Tim Trivett, asked the gathered crowds to be respectful and quiet during the meeting. From that moment on, you could hear a pin drop in the room, until just after the vote on Bone’s motion when the crowd then applauded.
Following the meeting, it was found that the wording used by Ham was different than the original resolution. This means the council must vote again on the funding for the first quarter at the regular council meeting on the 12th.