04/07/05 — Commissioners put education policy in writing

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Commissioners put education policy in writing

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on April 7, 2005 1:47 PM

The Wayne County Board of Commissio-ners have put their commitment to education, and their role in helping provide a good education to public school students, in writing.

The commissioners approved a stated public education policy on Tuesday. The document recognizes the county Board of Education as responsible for operating the school system and that they consider themselves responsible for paying for the needs, not the wants, of the schools.

The commissioners said that a strong partnership between the two elected boards is needed because the county cannot afford to pay for all projects identified by the school board as needed in its proposed 10-year building plan.

To approach that level of funding, the commissioners said, they would have to raise taxes and possibly hold a referendum on the sale of bonds to provide even more money.

"I think it's important to note that we might have to raise taxes and/or have a bond referendum," said Commissioner Efton Sager. "There's a chance that we could have to do both."

According to the policy adopted by the commissioners, the two boards should work together to educate the public on the 10-year facility plan and to develop an affordable annual operational funding formula for the school system.

The policy also calls for providing competitive salaries and incentives to recruit and retain high-caliber teachers.

County Commissioner Atlas Price said that while the document doesn't change the commissioner's position on education, it clearly defines it for the public.

Commissioner Jack Best that having the policy in writing will enable commissioners to refer to their stated purpose when discussing the school system budget with the school board.

The commissioners and the school board are scheduled to hold a one-day retreat April 28 to discuss the schools' budget.

County Manager Lee Smith said that the policy would allow the commissioners be clear about their objectives.

"This says what we want to accomplish," Smith said.

County Commissioner John Bell said he thought the policy would "bring understanding" between the boards.