07/05/05 — Schools will ask for money

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Schools will ask for money

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on July 5, 2005 1:45 PM

The Wayne County Board of Commissioners and Board of Education will meet today at 3 p.m. to talk about the amount of money appropriated by the county for the schools.

The school board notified the commissioners last week that they believe the county has shortchanged the schools in its 2005-06 budget. State law gives the school board the right to appeal the appropriation.

John Grantham, vice chairman of the school board, said today that school officials plan to ask commissioners for additional money to pay for teacher supplements and to maintain the school system's fund balance at $2 million -- a sum recommended by the state as fiscally responsible.

Representatives of the two boards will meet at the Wayne County Public Library on Ash Street.

"We want to come to an agreement that we can both live with in the budget," Grantham said.

"We're hoping to work out everything today," he said.

Should the two sides not reach agreement, state law requires a mediator be chosen to help them reach a deal. The mediator would be selected by Superior Court Judge Jerry Braswell, if the two boards cannot agree on someone to assume the role.

If no deal can be reached by Aug. 1, and if both sides don't agree to continue the talks, the mediator is required by law to make the impasse public.

At that point, the issue goes to court. Within five days of the mediator's announcement, the Board of Education can file suit in Superior Court. Either board can ask for a jury trial. The case would be placed ahead of any other case on the docket because of its importance to the public interest.

The school board last challenged commissioners' appropriation in 1992, the year after the county school system and the Goldsboro school system merged. The issue was settled when then-Clerk of Court David Brantley ruled the schools were entitled to more money. They received about half of the nearly $1 million school officials had sought.

Last month, school officials said they felt commissioners had reneged on a promise to help boost teacher supplements. The money is crucial to hiring and retaining good teachers, they said.