Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Superintendent Pressed on Cuts 2 Board Members Say $200,000 in Savings More like $25,000

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Superintendent Pressed on Cuts 2 Board Members Say $200,000 in Savings More like $25,000

Article excerpt

GREEN COVE SPRINGS -- The standoff between two members of the

Clay County School Board and Superintendent David Owens

continued last week as the sides sparred over a $200,000 cut in

spending Owens said he's made for 1997-98.

The dispute began four weeks ago when Owens slashed the jobs of

three longtime administrators. Each had received good

evaluations.

Since then, board members Carol Vallencourt and Carol Studdard

have pressed Owens for a line-byline explanation of how he

arrived at a $200,000 savings.

"The people are being misled," said Vallencourt, who puts the

downsizing and job cuts closer to $25,000. "There needs to be a

public accounting."

"What we've done up to this point is restructure," Studdard

said. "It's not appropriate to say we're downsizing and have

saved $200,000."

The two board members continued to press Owens, who took office

Nov. 19, about the cuts.

After repeated requests, even some from taxpayers who commented

during Thursday's meeting, Owens declined to address the issue

directly.

He said he didn't think he needed to provide an explanation for

a matter the School Board approved by a 3-2 margin.

"It's a dead issue," he said. "The board has approved this

thing."

Owens, as well as other board members, said there are ways to

add in your own favor.

"How you want to interpret it is up to you," he said of the

calculations he used to justify the $200,000 savings.

He said that he needs to be his own man. "I have that right and

I intend to do that."

Vallencourt and Studdard said they came up with their own

figures, ones that put them not that far apart. The figures,

reflecting spending between December 1996 and July 1997,

estimate a $25,000 to $30,000 savings, they said. The money is

for salaries of nine staffers.

After pressing Owens, Vallencourt asked each board member to

comment on the matter, but only Mickey Fields responded.

"No, we didn't save $200,000," he said.

Fields agreed with Owens that the superintendent needs to be

given some flexibility to fill jobs at his pleasure. …

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