WINCHESTER — Frederick County School Board member Brian Hester felt the need at the end of Tuesday's meeting to address comments he has heard regarding the school division and its officials.

"Over the past two weeks I have read, heard and watched as members of the Board of Supervisors, community and even members of this board take issue with how this school system operates," Hester said.

He described the comments as "bashing the board and specifically our administration."

He continued: "I can guarantee you and you can take my word that we certainly don’t have any spin doctors working for this school system."

Although he didn't cite names, Hester's comment was an apparent reference to a Feb. 20 town hall-style meeting hosted by Shawn Graber, who represents the Back Creek District on the Board of Supervisors. At the event, Graber referred to school division Superintendent David Sovine as "the spin doctor" over school budget matters. School Board member Brandon Monk was among those who attended the event.

At a Feb. 24 supervisors' budget work session, Graber and Gainesboro District Supervisor J. Douglas McCarthy pushed for categorical funding of the School Board's budget, which would give the supervisors more control over how the school division's money is spent. Graber said he has asked for a line-item budget from the schools but has never received one. "If they continue to refuse to give us a categorical, line-item budget then I would like to see what our scenarios would look like if we give them simply the bare-bones minimum that is required by the state," Graber said at the meeting.

The "bare-bones minimum" option would reduce the county's funding of the school division by more than $50 million.

"When a few members of the Board of Supervisors or even members of this board, for a matter of fact, try to pit a group or individuals against one another with not knowing all the facts, try to pit the community against the School Board based on information that is readily available because they have not chosen to participate in listening to our needs and why we have those needs, it is our community, in particular our children that suffer," Hester said on Tuesday.

At the Feb. 24 supervisors' meeting, some members questioned why Sovine had not presented his fiscal 2022 budget proposal to them. County Administrator Kris Tierney told them a invitation for such a meeting was never extended, apparently over difficulties agreeing upon a date, but that he would contact Sovine.

Last night, Sovine attended a supervisors' budget work session to present his budget plan.

School division spokesperson Steve Edwards previously told The Star that the supervisors were invited to attend Sovine's budget presentation to the School Board in February and that copies of the budget had been sent to the supervisors.

Hester said that when he chose to run for a seat on the School Board he did so to make the community a better place.

“When it comes to my School Board position I certainly don’t rely on some Tweety bird on my shoulder to feed me information on the way I should vote or conduct myself at these meetings, especially when hidden agendas are being pushed from specific supervisors," he said.

Hester later told The Star he purposefully didn't call out any elected official by name.

"People know who I'm talking about," he said.

Despite tensions between between the two panels, Hester said he is looking forward to working on the budget with the Board of Supervisors in a "professional, productive and mutually understanding relationship."

— Contact Anna Merod at amerod@winchesterstar.com

(15) comments

ginamcintire

Great Scott as a product of the FCPS system you get put in. Students need PARENTING public schools are not the place you send your kids to teach them respect, manners and how to cope with adversity. That’s parenting. If you fund a barebones system you will get what you pay for. The children are our future leaders and if you want the elite who can afford private education to continue to “run” things then keep cheaping out on the schools. There are some competent born leaders who are not going to get the opportunities they deserve because some people can’t see past the bottom line. If indeed the schools are very, very poor maybe it’s because leaders have to spend too much time trying to justify spending and squeezing the last drop out of the minimal funding they do get. You truly get what you pay for. This budget haggling over every single thing every year reminds me of bargain hunters at a yard sale. There’s no easy answer, but name calling and trying to undermine elected officials is not the way. Maybe someone’s mommy didn’t teach them coping skills dealing with adversity when they were little.

Doc Samson

Nice to know that conservatives in the county are willing to stand up to Leftist obfuscation and stupidity. When the board/superintendent embrace the SJW agenda, nothing good is going to come of it and most taxpayers aren't invested enough to care one way or the other. When the Lefties start attacking you, you know you are doing the right thing...

Hereforthebeer

Hester cant handle any criticism.

MaggieLounds

Great job Mr Hester! I had a child who graduated from FCPS last year. I have always enjoyed working with the teachers from elementary, middle and high school. That education has already led them into very promising career. You guys/gals are doing a GREAT JOB!!!

88Tiger

Mr. Hester - thank you for your solid leadership.

rkk123456

COMPLETE NONSENSE!! Bullying??? That is a complete joke of a statement. We need direct accountability as to where our tax dollars are going. Have ya'll lost your minds?? Public information Mr. Hester? That's another joke. Someone please supply me with a link as to where a line by line itemized statement can be found. Mr. Hester, you are the ultimate Spin Dr. Good for you Mr. Graber for calling this out and making us aware of the complete hypocrisy coming out of Mr. Hester's administration!!

88Tiger

Link to line item budget: (scroll to page 23)

https://www.frederick.k12.va.us/UserFiles/Servers/Server_135851/File/AboutUs/Finance/FinanceCommittee/finance_committee_020421_full_packet_022521.pdf

88Tiger

Scroll to page 22 for school's line item proposal - you probably hadn't seen this yet?

https://www.frederick.k12.va.us/UserFiles/Servers/Server_135851/File/AboutUs/Finance/FinanceCommittee/finance_committee_020421_full_packet_022521.pdf

22655 Reader

Mr. Hester, your courage to stand up to the bully/bullies on the Board of Supervisors is very much appreciated! Their falsehoods and uninformed comments are hurting our community!

Steve Cunningham

[crying][crying][crying][crying][crying][crying][crying][crying][crying][crying][crying][crying][crying]

GreatScott

I fully support Graber, McCarthy, etc. The School Board and Sovine are part of the PROBLEM. The budget process is out of control. The fix is a NEW School Board and a NEW Superintendent. The current ones are dug in and refuse to listen. Plus, let me clue people in on this FACT - the education one gets in FCPS is very, very poor. All the more reason to get new people to lead it. The tax payers deserver better than this.

WinchesterNative

Thank you Mr. Hester! Mr. Graber has shown his true colors, personal agenda and lies. The community appreciates you!

dmjc

[thumbup]

Lynn Buchanan

Thank you , Brian Hester, for standing up for our school system.

mook21

[thumbup]

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