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Commissioner says he's peeved at 'ring' comment

November 20, 2004|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Washington County Commissioner John C. Munson said he wants more respect from a high-level Board of Education administrator.

Munson said in an interview this week that he was unhappy with a statement made at a Nov. 9 Evening with the Board meeting by the school board's chief operating officer, William Blum, regarding county funding for school construction projects.

At that meeting, school board members and staff discussed ways in which parents could help lobby the commissioners for increased school funding.

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The commissioners gave the school board $10 million this fiscal year for construction projects, an increase from $5.9 million the previous year.

To get that increase, Blum stated at the meeting that "we felt like we had to kiss the ring."

Munson said the commissioners took exception to the statement and considered bringing the issue up when they met with the school board last Tuesday.

"We were ready to take our rings off and tell him to kiss them, but we didn't have the nerve," Munson said. "We don't go around cutting them up like that ... even though we might want to."

Commissioner James F. Kercheval, however, said Friday that he knew of no such plan.

"I wasn't ready to take my ring off because I knew of no such plan to do that," Kercheval said.

Kercheval said he heard about Blum's comment, but didn't think much of it.

"It was obviously a bigger issue for some people than it was for me," Kercheval said.

Blum said Friday that he didn't intend for his comment to offend anyone. He said his intention was to relay the fact that money for the school board's construction projects comes from the county.

"We like to think we have a good working relationship with the commissioners, and we wouldn't say anything that would jeopardize that," Blum said.

"Certainly, I would apologize if Mr. Munson has taken offense to the statement," Blum said.

Commissioner Doris J. Nipps said Friday that she missed the statement made by Blum and didn't want to comment.

"I heard about it afterward," Nipps said. "I can't comment."

Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook and Commissioners Vice President William J. Wivell could not be reached for comment Friday.

Munson said the commissioners do what they can to increase money to education.

In addition to the $10 million contribution this fiscal year for construction projects, the commissioners gave the school board $78.8 million for its operating budget this fiscal year, about $4 million more than the previous year.

The $78.8 million allocation nearly fully funded the school board's request of $78.9 million.

In total, the school board received $95.5 million from the commissioners this fiscal year.

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