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Spotsylvania supervisors to address school funding, camping ordinance
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Spotsylvania supervisors to address school funding, camping ordinance

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The Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors is seeking public input on several issues ranging from school funding to ordinances on camping and parking.

The first public hearing at this Tuesday’s board meeting involves the school system’s request for a portion of the $22,682,023 it was awarded in federal COVID-19 grant funding.

School officials and some supervisors have consistently tangled over federal funding awarded to Spotsylvania to deal with impacts by the pandemic. Supervisors must allocate the money in order for it to be used.

The school system is seeking $15,336,335 of the grant, according to a staff report by Bonnie Jewell, assistant county administrator, and Prashant Shrestha, the school system’s chief business official. The money would be used to address COVID-related issues, including new staff, facility upgrades and technology costs.

According to the staff report, the Finance Committee addressed the request and a motion for approval failed, 3-2, with the use of “temporary federal funding for the hiring of 99 positions” being the key concern.

CAMPING ORDINANCE UP AGAIN

The board also will hold a public hearing in another effort to change an ordinance that makes camping in the county illegal.

County staff has developed amendments to the camping code to allow temporary camping in the county and give property owners the authority to camp on their land for up to 14 days before having to apply for a sewage pump-and-haul permit.

The Planning Commission voted to support the amendments earlier this month. County staff also recommended approval of the amendments.

The amendments are aimed at a 1984 regulation banning camping in most of Spotsylvania, something that surprised county officials earlier this year when it came to their attention. That ordinance made camping “unlawful within the county except at those state and federal parks with camping facilities, Indian Acres, Wilderness Camping Resorts and other county-approved commercial camping facilities.”

Earlier this year, the Planning Commission recommended striking the ordinance entirely, thereby defaulting to state camping regulations.

The Board of Supervisors later learned from county staff that striking the ordinance would not reverse the ban on camping, something the Planning Commission did not know. The supervisors sent the issue back to the commission for more consideration.

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PARKING CHANGES AFOOT?

Another public hearing is scheduled to address proposed residential parking changes. The proposed zoning amendments cover a range of residential parking regulations, but focus primarily on mixed-use and multi-family developments.

A county staff report says the proposed changes arose from concerns raised by the county’s fire and rescue departments about road standards, mostly at newer mixed-use developments, which are a combination of residential and commercial structures.

The emergency crews reported having problems navigating large vehicles, such as ladder trucks, in mixed-use developments, where a lack of visitor parking forces people to park “along roads where vehicles ought not be parked,” according to the county staff report.

The changes would increase required parking spaces at townhouse and apartment developments in an effort to reduce roadside parking.

According to the county staff report, the “amendments are expected to create easier to navigate neighborhoods for emergency services, citizens, visitors, delivery and moving trucks, and reduce frequency of parking along roads with dimensions that are not conducive or intended for on street parking.”

CRITICAL RACE THEORYThe board agenda also includes a resolution aimed at keeping critical race theory from being taught in county schools.

The theory, primarily taught at the college level, asserts that race is socially constructed and used to oppress people of color within a legal system and hierarchy that is inherently racist.

The resolution states that the board re-affirms its support of its Oct. 13, 2020, declaration supporting equality, as well as an education policy curriculum that “moves its students forward when it comes to teaching the ideals of civil rights, diversity, non-discrimination, tolerance, and equality.”

The resolution goes on to state that critical race theory “will fail to move the County and its students forward” in those aspects the board supports, adding that teaching the theory “will create a divisive culture” in schools.

The School Board earlier this month approved a resolution proposed by Erin Grampp in favor of “responsible civic education” that does not incorporate “divisive” theories such as those proposed by critical race theory.

During discussion of the resolution, Superintendent Scott Baker told the board in response to questions posed by board member Baron Braswell that critical race theory is not currently part of the division’s curriculum, that the Virginia Department of Education has not requested that it be part of K-12 curriculum and that no board member has ever asked that it be taught.

The resolution was supported by all School Board members with the exception of Lorita Daniels, who abstained, and Rabih Abuismail, who was absent.

The board meeting begins at 4:30 p.m. in the board room of the Holbert Building. Public comment and public hearings are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m.

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436

sshenk@freelancestar.com

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