03/08/05 — School board takes issue with retreat story

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School board takes issue with retreat story

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on March 8, 2005 1:59 PM

Members of the Wayne County Board of Education said Monday night that they have been invited to and have attended retreats held by the county Economic Development Commission,despite some reports to the contrary.

The subject surfaced during the open comment segment of the board's meeting Monday night.

Several school board members said they took issue with a story that was published in the News-Argus following a joint meeting of the school board, city council, and county commissioners. The story said a school board member had complained to Goldsboro City Councilman and EDC member Chuck Allen about not being invited to the EDC's annual retreat.

School board member Pete Gurley said Monday that he had stated during the joint meeting that the school board had been invited to the annual EDC retreat and was then uninvited. The story that attempted to clear up the issue only clouded it further, Gurley said.

"Joanna Thompson (the EDC president) quoted that we had never been invited, that the invitation was made in error," Gurley said. "It said the superintendent was invited and invited us.

"We have attended. I know four of us have attended more than one EDC meeting."

Board member George Moye said he recalled having been to at least two EDC retreats.

"I can assure you I did not show up without being invited," Moye said. "To have stated otherwise is unequivocally wrong."

Ms. Thompson was reported to have said that school board member Shirley Sims had at one time been under the impression that she had attended previous EDC retreats, but later realized it had been retreats held by the Chamber of Commerce.

"I know I go to a lot of meetings," Ms. Sims said Monday. "I'm not so senile that I don't know when I'm somewhere."

Sims said she was out of town at the time the newspaper story appeared and was surprised to learn that the issue had been raised.

"Maybe we were not invited by the right person, but we were there and no one told us to leave," she said. "I have never known anyone to tell me I could not go."

Sims said she not only had she attended EDC retreats and meetings, but she had even served on the board.

Regardless of the debate over the comments, she said, there is a bigger question at hand.

"Whether or not I have ever been, if we're truly committed to working together .... if education is so vital in Wayne County, why could I not have gone to an EDC meeting?" she asked.

With the school board, commissioners and city council discussing forming an education summit, she said, the EDC would also be called upon to help.

"I don't know how they can help us if we don't go to their meeting," she said.

When contacted by the News-Argus this morning, Ms. Thompson said she preferred not to comment on the matter.