04/01/06 — Not productive: A simmering standoff interferes with school needs

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Not productive: A simmering standoff interferes with school needs

With all the other issues that have occupied the county’s interest over the last few weeks, there hasn’t been much attention paid to a problem that continues to plague Wayne County despite months of discussion and even more waiting.

And this week, with the debut of the North Carolina Education Lottery, there is even more reason to revisit it again.

Wayne County leaders and school officials are getting close to receiving the results from a consultant’s analysis of the school district’s needs and the county’s ability to meet them.

The Evergreen Solutions report should be in soon, and both groups will know once and for all the unbiased picture of the facilities needs in Wayne County’s schools.

But will it matter?

The most recent standoff between the two boards suggests that there is not really a true spirit of “let’s get this job done together.”

A note of inquiry from the county manager that sounded more like a demand than a request led to an equally firm response from the school board — and now we can add the future of Goldsboro High School and its testing performance to the list of issues that these two groups do not see eye-to-eye on.

So as they prepare for the revelation of the $120,000 analysis of the school district’s needs vs. the county’s available resources, both boards and sets of public officials need to be thinking cooperation, not setting up their defenses. That is, if either wants to get the job done before snow flies.

There won’t be much time to firm up the 2006 budget before it will be time again to create the 2007 spending plan. So, the next few months will be critical if there is going to be any progress made toward the goal of affordably improving the county’s schools.

There is nothing wrong with anyone asking questions. The public expects its leaders to make sure money is spent prudently and with the future in mind. So the commissioners should make sure there is a responsible plan for the money’s use.

And there is nothing wrong with the county’s school officials making sure that the public is aware of the needs in the schools and how long it has taken to get action from the county on those requests. The school district has a right to ask that the county look at the issue from the perspective of providing the best education possible for the county’s students.

But as the new round of discussions begins, it is time to set aside the animosity and arguing that have masqueraded behind the comments promising cooperation and common purpose.

This is a chance to start over — and to finish a job that long ago passed its deadline.

Only a determination to turn discussion into action and discord into cooperation is going to make this end in a plan instead of six more months of talking.

Published in Editorials on April 1, 2006 11:51 PM