07/25/08 — By example: There are lessons to be learned from Duplin mediation

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By example: There are lessons to be learned from Duplin mediation

Wondering why so much is being written about the battle in Duplin County between the county commissioners and the school board?

There are many reasons to keep an eye on this disagreement and where it has ended up -- and most importantly, who is paying for it.

The two entities are currently in court -- well, in mediation for now, with the possibility of a jury trial if there is no way for them to resolve their differences.

The basis for the fight is the funding provided by the county commission for Duplin County schools.

The board of education and district officials say the proposed budget figures simply are not enough to reasonably run the schools and to provide a proper education for Duplin County's children.

The county says it simply cannot afford to provide any more money and the school district should have to live within its means and examine its own finances for places where cuts could be made.

Sound familiar?

Wayne County officials would do well to pay attention to what is happening in Duplin County -- and so should taxpayers.

The continued battles over funding in many counties across North Carolina have become heated over the years -- and a couple of times have ended up in court. And the bills for such battles are not cheap.

Want to guess who ends up paying for the lawyers, the hours of mediation and the other costs associated with an extended funding right?

That's right -- the taxpayers.

And local residents' pocketbooks are not the only places where there is a loss.

Extended battles like this end up costing students, too.

School districts that are distracted from the business of education because of arguments and court dates are not able to move forward with better programs and additional services that students need.

And judging by the state results released this week, Duplin is in great need of help in that regard.

So, Wayne County taxpayers have a vested interest in making sure progress continues in the continuing talks about facilities, programs and money between their own school board and county commission.

Concentrated effort and a real decision soon are critical to avoiding a protracted battle that will end up not accomplishing much of anything except creating bitterness and division -- and costing taxpayers money.

Published in Editorials on July 25, 2008 11:02 AM