Pulaski Schools, County Government explain impacts of severing maintenance ties

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PULASKI, Va. (WDBJ7) A 12 year partnership between the Pulaski County School Board and the Board of Supervisors is over.

Schools will no longer share maintenance and grounds crews and equipment with the county.

"We did not feel that we were getting the fair amount of attention and work order completion that we would get if we just had our own facilities operation," said Kevin Siers, the Pulaski County Schools Superintendent.

The county administrator says this has put the county in a bind. The superintendent said this plan to separate from the county and operate their own crews has been a discussion for a while and was solely their choice.

He says this decision wasn't made quickly.

"This was not something that was thrown on the county," Siers said.

Pulaski County Schools and the County Board of Supervisors now have a separate staff, and a new maintenance director is starting within the school system later this month. The former director who was shared by both entities now only works for the county government.

Sharing services was supposed to be a cost cutting measure when the partnership started.

"Over time the school division started getting less and less attention and resources from maintenance, from grounds crews and from the director," Siers said.

The superintendent says he gave the county plenty of notice before they made the decision. The County administrator says otherwise.

"This came as a surprise to the board of supervisors particularly from a timing standpoint of when the notified us and our inability to properly prepare for it in this current year's budget," said County Administrator Jonathan Sweet. According to Sweet, the school board didn't give proper notice. He says this news came as the board was finalizing its budget.

"We've identified already more than 50 thousand dollars worth of additional costs this year and that does not include the full gambit of overhead and operations, as well as the need for purchase of new equipment that we once shared with the school system," Sweet said.

Severing ties turned out better for the school system, the superintendent explains. Now he says school lawns are getting mowed more frequently and maintenance issues are being addressed sooner.

The school board has agreed to share the mowing equipment through the end of this fiscal year.

This happens right as the two boards have had disagreements about the need for a new middle school.

The superintendent says all those discussions sped up this decision to separate from the county by about a year.