By a 3-0-2 vote with Carrie Coyner and Dianne Smith abstaining, the Chesterfield school board on Oct. 9 voted to ask the board of...

By a 3-0-2 vote with Carrie Coyner and Dianne Smith abstaining, the Chesterfield school board on Oct. 9 voted to ask the board of supervisors to transfer $3.37 million from construction projects at Enon and Beulah elementary schools to one at Manchester Middle School.

According to a memo from interim school superintendent Donald R. Fairheart, a revised bid of $39.9 million from Kenbridge Construction Co. for the Manchester Middle project was $4.4 million over the projected bid of $35.5 million. Kenbridge was the only company to bid on the project.

School district staff cited savings of $1.1 million and $2.5 million in the Beulah and Enon elementary construction projects. Staff recommended that the school board authorize this funding and request that the board of supervisors transfer the funds to the Manchester Middle project. The board of supervisors is scheduled to consider the request at its Oct. 24 meeting.

During public comment, Matoaca resident Brenda Stewart noted that neither the Beulah nor Enon projects is finished. Midlothian resident Rodney Stewart accused the school district of “double encumbering your budget” by proceeding with the transfers.

New audit committee
With Coyner dissenting, the board voted 4-1 to create an Audit and Finance Committee and withdraw from the board of supervisors’ Audit and Finance Committee.
School board chair John Erbach said the board has been unable to select topics for the supervisors’ committee’s agenda. He said the school board can still meet with the supervisors as needed.

According to a staff report, district staff recommended the actions to better assist the school board in its oversight responsibilities for budgeting, financial reporting, internal control systems and audit processes.

During public comment, Stewart said, “This board does not need a new auditor, it needs a new attitude.”

Transportation issues
Also during public comment, the board heard from three school bus drivers, two current and one retired.
Bobbie Lewis said criticized the district’s use of computerized bus routing, which she called “extremely flawed.” She called the computerized routing system “a lot of waste” and asked, “How can we together stop this chaos?”

“The routing system is functionally inaccessible to anybody,” former driver Drew Story said. “It maybe was a good idea at one time, but it’s not for Chesterfield County. You’ve got to put the human routing back in.”

For the second month in a row, the school board spent much of its afternoon work session discussing its bus issues as a number of routes were still running late.