Janie Bush and Marva Dunn are no longer active members of the Greensville County School Board. The announcement was made public in a July 9 press release from the County. Bush and Dunn served as the two GCSB representatives from the City of Emporia, and were the vice chairman and chairman of the Board, respectively.
A memorandum released on June 30 from County Attorney Russell Slayton stated that the City School Board representatives had lost their voting privileges due to the expiration of the City and County’s shared school funding agreement.
In 2018, the County and the City negotiated a two-year extension of the 2003 cost sharing agreement between both parties. When that agreement expired, a new one-year agreement was reached in July 2020, which expired on June 30, 2021.
Both the 2003 and 2020 agreements provided for a six-member shared School Board; four members elected to represent the County and two members appointed by the Emporia City Council to represent the City. According to the press release, when the 2020 agreement expired on June 30, that shared School Board no longer existed, and all decisions going forward were to be made by the four elected members of the County Board.
“The expiration of the 2020 Agreement ended the right of the City to have its representatives participate as members of the County School Board,” the press release stated. “Nevertheless, the County has clearly and unequivocally stated that it expects to, and looks forward to, continuing the education of City students in the County school system. The only way City students would cease being educated in the County school system would be if the City chose to bus City students for their education by another county.”
The press release also states that under cost sharing system approved for the FY 21-22 budget, the County is paying more on a per student basis than the County is charging the City on a per student basis. The County Board of Supervisors approved the GCPS FY 21-22 budget during their June 7 meeting. Of the $10,188,809 approved budget, the County agreed to pay $6,083,318, while the City will pay the remaining share of $4,105,491.
There have been many discussions in recent months regarding school facilities. Earlier this year, a proposal was made to the School Board for the construction of a new high school, elementary school and athletic complex that the Board would lease from the owners of the facility. There is also a growing list of major renovations that need to be made to the County’s existing school buildings. The press release from the County addressed these concerns and how they relate to the situation at hand.
“Decisions will be made soon as to what new facilities are constructed and City commitment to funding the City’s fair share of that new debt service which is a necessary element of new school construction,” the release stated. “The County hopes that the City will make a long-term commitment to fund its fair share of debt service payments in the near future.”
Dunn believes the decision to remove she and Bush from the Board leaves a void in the representation of City children who attend Greensville County Public Schools.
“The issue is not about Janie Bush and Marva Dunn and what’s in our best interest,” Dunn said. “It’s a much bigger issue than that. It’s about the citizens of Emporia with children attending the Greensville County school division not having a voice on the School Board. It is about City taxpayers not having a voice. Contract or not contract, our Emporia babies deserve a voice.”
“It boils down to something that’s very, very simple – the right thing to do,” she said. “If the children are going to be educated in the Greensville County school system, they should have a voice. The City kids should have someone from the City representing them.”
When Bush and Dunn were removed from the Board, Jason Rook assumed the role of chairman. During Monday’s meeting, the four County Board members voted unanimously to name Janet Roberts as the vice chairman.