Floyd County School Superintendent Terry W. Arbogast says his people are ready to “go to war” over the strained relationships between the educational system and the board of supervisors.

Indian Valley Supervisor Fred Gerald, in a comment posted to this web site, says he should.

“I say go for it Dr. Arbogast,” Gerald says. “Enough is Enough!”

Yes, enough is enough. We’d had enough secrecy from the school board. We’d had enough attempts to avoid problems with teachers and other employees of the school system by listing a lower — and incorrect salary — for the administrator in the school board budget.

Both Arbogast and Gerald blame The Roanoke Times and The Floyd Press for the controversy but all the media did was report what has happened.

Katelyn Polantz of The Times exposed a culture of secrecy within the school system that does not serve the public and that culture — not the media — created the controversy that keeps tongues wagging in Floyd County.

Polantz did her job — and she did it better than I did.  After a recent school board meeting, Arbogast confronted her and accused her of turning his staff against him by reporting the informal and secretive way the school system approved a series of raises over the years that has almost doubled his salary and makes him — by a wide margin — the highest paid county employee.

The school superintendent’s complete compensation package paid him a little over $168,000 over the past year — in a rural county where the average individual income is about $26,000 a year.

Arbogast admitted to me that he kept his salary line item at a lower-than-actual figure for several years to avoid angering teachers because he received a raise when they did not.

“It was a no-win situation,” he said.

It didn’t have to be that way. If the superintendent and the school board had been open with the public over each and every raise given to the system boss the matter would not have reached the serious situation the county now faces — one where the board of supervisors has to move money around in the budget to give school employees a modest one percent raise when the school board won’t.

The school superintendent says he answered any question about his salary when asked. Yes, he has, but he answers in a limited way that only addresses the specifics of a question. in a truly transparent system the information should have been provided openly without the need to ask questions. Requiring members of the board of supervisors to file formal requests to obtain actual salary figures is not an open and transparent system. Neither is tapping funds left over from teacher vacancies without providing an explanation of the process as part of a budget request.

On May 5, The Roanoke Times editorialized:

The Floyd County Board of Supervisors must demand answers from the school board about what has been going on with School Superintendent Terry Arbogast’s compensation package.

Right now, the people cannot trust that their government is spending dollars wisely and doing business in the open.

If the school superintendent wants to restore his reputation he needs to abandon his usual strategy of bluster and admit he made a mistake. If the school board wants to end this standoff with the board of supervisors they need to prove they can conduct the public’s business openly and without concealment.

War is not the answer.

Transparency and openness with the public is.