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Waynesboro Area School Board bickers over budget

Tensions rise as members deal with projected $1.4 million budget deficit

Tensions rise as members deal with projected $1.4 million budget deficit

May 14, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- The Waynesboro Area School Board's budget discussions on Tuesday not only created tensions, but also devolved into name-calling in at least one instance.

"You're an (expletive) and an idiot," Leland Lemley said to the school board president.

Lemley, a longtime school board member, had arrived for the 6 p.m. meeting at about 7:10 p.m. He jumped into the budget discussions to say that his colleagues would not debate the budget for fear of being quoted in the media.

"If I say it, the newspaper won't write it because it's just me saying it," Lemley said.

Another board member countered that everyone had been engaging in discussion, and board President Stanley Barkdoll was one of two people to tell Lemley that he would realize that had he been on time. Lemley started to argue that he was only a few minutes late, until he was stopped and informed that the meeting was scheduled for 6 p.m.

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Barkdoll said the early start was written in red text on the front page of the packets pre-distributed to the board, prompting Lemley's retort.

The school board has been grappling with a projected $1.4 million budget deficit and possible 4-mill property tax increase. The tax hike would translate into $69 for the average property owner.

Board member Firmadge Crutchfield, in his first term on the board, led the campaign to have top school administrators present $1.4 million worth of budget cuts at next week's board meeting. Gloria Walker, interim superintendent, warned that educational programs will be involved with those cuts.

Crutchfield pushed for figures reflecting the cuts "whether it be programs, footballs, pencils, cars."

"With an outfit this big, you have a lot of things out there you have an ability to whittle down," board member Ed Wilson said.

"The budget I have tells me nothing, just that it's $1.4 million out of whack," Crutchfield said.

The budget reflects $48.8 million worth of expenditures.

Lemley alleged that no matter what might be able to be cut, the majority of the board will vote for a tax increase just to pad reserve funds.

"I know what the result is going to be," Lemley said. "I've been doing this long enough with this board."

In response, Barkdoll challenged Lemley to find "the pustule of fat hidden in this budget" and then his vote would be won.

"Probably, I'd do all the work, and you still wouldn't cut the taxes," Lemley said.

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