04/07/04 — Council threatens lawsuit over schools

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Council threatens lawsuit over schools

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on April 7, 2004 2:07 PM

The Goldsboro City Council threatened legal action today if its concerns about the problems facing schools in central Goldsboro continue to be ignored by the school board.

Council members outlined their concerns in a letter to the county commissioners, which was delivered Tuesday. Councilman Chuck Allen said that a copy of the letter was also going to school board members, so they would "not be left out of the loop."

The lack of racial diversity within the city schools, and the high number of low-wealth students attending them, has long been a concern of the council.

"Quite frankly, this situation has gone on too long and needs to be resolved," the letter said. "Goldsboro is currently looking at what our options are, including litigation, if necessary, as we can no longer allow this black eye on our city."

All of the councilmen signed the letter.

In the letter, the council told the commissioners that "we are concerned about our inner city schools as well as the current facility plan the school board has presented to your board for some 82 plus million dollars."

The council also asked why the school board refused to have a school construction study conducted, after the county commissioners offered to fund the study more than a year ago.

The proposed study was also intended to address some potential solutions to the racial and low-wealth problems in the city, the council said.

"As City Council members, community leaders and tax payers, we cannot believe that the School Board would put forth an $82 million construction plan without first studying the existing infrastructure and how it's being used."

In a work session earlier this week, some council members said that a study conducted in 1994 had been ignored by the school board.

Reminding commissioners that the city contained 40 percent of the county population, the council requested that the county immediately hire an outside firm to look at how school buildings were being used and population trends for the next 15 years.

"We would also like the study to specifically look at what can be done with the inner city schools as they relate to lack of racial diversity and low wealth enrollment," the council wrote. "Obviously this is not a concern to the current school board, but it is of paramount importance to the city, especially if we are going to keep our city viable, recruit new business and new young families to locate inside Goldsboro."

The council also wanted to know how much the proposed construction plan would increase county tax rates.

"It appears to us that the school system is already having problems staffing and funding our current schools," the council wrote. "Maybe the study should look at what kind of impact any new construction would have on operational funds as well as staffing."

The council was concerned about the effect these issues could have on the Base Realignment and Closure study.

"After encroachment, two of the main areas on the BRAC commission list are quality of life and education," the letter said.