09/11/08 — Jurors now deliberating in Duplin funding case

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Jurors now deliberating in Duplin funding case

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on September 11, 2008 1:34 PM

KENANSVILLE -- Jurors heard final arguments in the trial over school spending in Duplin County Wednesday -- and today were expected to receive instructions by Judge Thomas Haigwood of Greenville before entering into deliberations.

The Duplin Board of Education is suing the Board of County Commissioners, saying the board has not appropriated enough money to operate a sound educational system, as required by state law.

Efforts to reach an agreement by mediation failed, opening the door to the lawsuit, which began three weeks ago.

Motions by the school board to have the trial moved to another county, or to have residents from outside the county fill the jury box, were denied by Haigwood.

In documents filed by school board lawyers, school officials said they were seeking "tens of millions of dollars."

Should the jury decide in favor of the school board, commissioners could be forced to increase taxes to come up with the money.

Commissioners and the school board have been at odds for the past several years over the level of local funding.

The county's 2008-09 budget included $6.9 million for schools. The school board had asked for $13.2 million.

The jury is made up of eight women and four men. Three women and a man served as alternates.

Both sides had asked for a jury trial.