08/14/05 — Schools might off budget deal

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Schools might off budget deal

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on August 14, 2005 2:10 AM

From staff reports

The budget scuffle between the Wayne County Board of Education and the county commissioners could soon be at an end.

The board has called a special meeting for 10:30 a.m. Monday with several items on the agenda, including cancelation of the joint meeting with the county commissioners scheduled for this Wednesday.

The school district and the county have been negotiating through a mediator to reach an agreement on how much money is necessary and reasonable to fund the county schools' immediate and future needs.

Commissioners have asked for detailed answers regarding the district's needs as well as justification for the expenses. School officials say they have provided all the information the county has asked for during the budgeting process.

The first meeting between the two groups and a court-appointed mediator ended with plans for a second mediation session, which was scheduled for Aug. 10. A death in Wayne County Schools Superintendent Dr. Steven Taylor's family pushed the meeting back to Aug. 17, which is Wednesday.

Both boards have criticized and praised the other's willingness to participate fully in the budget negotiation process, although the tone of the comments changed significantly recently, with both County Manager Lee Smith and Taylor praising both groups' efforts to work toward a resolution.

County and school officials have said that even though the mediation date had shifted, the work to reach an agreement continued, with school and county personnel meeting on their own to discuss funding issues and the money the county has available.

One of those joint meetings was scheduled this past week.

Monday's meeting will be in the board meeting room at the school district offices at 2001 E. Royall Ave.

Also on Monday's agenda is a measure to approve utility easements with NC Natural Gas that might be necessary in connection with work to be done under a performance contract with Trane Solutions Inc. at North Drive Elementary and as part of a deferred maintenance program at Meadow Lane and Greenwood middle schools.

The county commission is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday. Discussion of the joint meeting is not listed on the agenda.