07/06/05 — County questions meeting's legality

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County questions meeting's legality

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on July 6, 2005 1:45 PM

The Wayne County Board of Commissioners and Board of Education will meet Thursday in court to determine whether the school board followed proper procedure in challenging commissioners' appropriation for public education.

School officials notified commissioners last week that they intended to contest the amount of money allocated for the school system in the 2005-06 county budget. State law gives school boards the right to appeal commissioners' decision.

But the law requires the school board to first determine whether a deficiency exists before notifying commissioners of their intent to appeal.

The school board did not meet between the commissioners' approval of the budget on Tuesday, June 28, and the sending of a letter three days later notifying commissioners of the school board's desire to appeal. Following receipt of the letter, commissioners set a joint meeting of the two boards for Tuesday.

At Tuesday's meeting, held at the Wayne County Public Library, Judge Jerry Braswell ruled the question about the school board's actions should be answered before the two sides sit down to discuss money.

The school board held an emergency meeting of its members an hour before the joint meeting at the library. At the emergency meeting, school board members approved a resolution saying the county did not give the school system enough money to properly operate.

Thursday's hearing will begin at 11 a.m.

School board attorney Jack Edwards said Tuesday that the school board did not obtain a copy of the county budget until Friday, when school board Vice Chairman John Grantham notified commissioners of their intent to appeal their appropriation. State law requires that if the school board wants to appeal its appropriation, that a meeting be held within seven days of the commissioners' adoption of the budget.

In a statement released today, school Superintendent Dr. Steve Taylor said he was "disappointed" by commissioners' challenge of the school board's procedure.

The statement said the school board discussed with its lawyer the possibility of appealing its appropriation before the commissioners approved the county budget and "gave instructions to its staff to proceed with an appeals process."