Category Archives: SchoolBoard

Craven County Schools is broke – Part Two

Craven County Schools is now saying it is in the black this school year; however, the district anticipates a $3.5 million hole next year. This is their way of being proactive, I guess. Scare the masses and hopefully, the Board of Commissioners will cave based on public pressure and give the school system more money. Because it is, after all, the federal government, the state government and finally, the local government’s fault the district does not have enough money to operate efficiently and effectively.

In an earlier post, entitled, “Surprise! Craven County Schools is broke,” I outlined some of the options the district is considering in saving funds. The possibilities included closing a school and reducing hours of those who make the least amount of money including janitors, classroom assistants, clerical staff and bus assistants for the Exceptional Children’s Program.

Some other options in their pursuit for more carefree financial days include making student athletes pay to play. That’s right, your high-schooler may need to fork out an additional $100 to Craven County Schools just to have the opportunity to cheer for their school. Then, there’s a proposed fee for things like transportation. And let’s not forget the Board of Education’s current dilemma of whether or not to enforce school uniforms next year district-wide.

So, whether you like it or not, if it comes from the Board of Commissioners or out of your own pocket, all taxpayers in Craven County will be footing the bill of the possible mismanagement of funds from the local school system.

This isn’t the first time Craven County Schools decided to make the parents cough up money for the district’s needs nor will it be the last. Consider the new technology fee, which each student – from kindergarten on – must pay just to utilize technology in the classroom. Just last month, the district reported in its tiny financial report located in the School Board’s agenda that the district had raked in more than $45,000 in the past month from those student fees. At $20 per student with at least 13,000 students in the district, this money adds up. Notice I wrote at least 13,000 students. That’s because I am uncertain as to how many students have transferred out of the district.

In that same report, the district notes it lost funds due to enrollment in the state’s Virtual Charter School while also paying money to other local public charter schools, as well. Giving money to charter schools is a huge problem for this board. To listen to the members talk during meetings, you would think those schools are stealing money from Craven County Schools. But that can’t be so. If you don’t have a student to educate because they are attending another school, why then would you need the funds? Why not give it to the school that is actually doing the work? Ask a School Board member about this discrepancy and they will stutter as they try to give you a speech on how charter schools are not measured by the same standards as public schools. But that’s another argument for another day.

In the report, Craven County Schools also lists grants received. For 2015-16, the district procured $1.6 million in grants. Now, the grant funds are not broken down by what they can be used for because that would give the public too much information and we all know this district isn’t fond of transparency. Nevertheless, funds are coming in.

Finally, the school’s transportation budget increased by $530,005, according to the agenda packet. If this is the case, why is the school system even discussing the increased burden on parents of having to pay for transportation? Furthermore, where did the funds to place GPS systems on buses come from? Please note they did this per the Transportation Director’s own statements in order to find out where waste was occurring. Not necessarily just for the safety to each student but so that the district could figure out why some bus drivers were arriving to school late. The director actually reported on an employee who was found to be sitting in a parking lot talking on her phone for 30 minutes each day but was still clocked in. Now, why does it take a GPS system to track employee waste?

Again, this post is getting long, so I will end by assuring my readers I will follow the money. In the next installment you will see where the district is wasting its money.

Feel free to contact me at gisela@cctaxpayers.com.

Surprise! Craven County Schools is broke

Is anyone really surprised Craven County Schools is reportedly $3.5 million in the hole, according to the Board of Education and a recent article in the New Bern Sun Journal?

Their “critical concerns” as pointed out in a PowerPoint presentation obtained by this writer include having less than $500,000 in the Local Fund Balance with the largest portion of those funds allocated to staff.

Craven County Schools’ personnel should be a hot topic now but it’s not. The Board of Education came up with several suggestions for saving money including reducing the number of local teacher assistants and months worked by clerical employees to cutting back on janitorial staff – all to save around $500,000. There’s even discussion around reducing bus assistants in the Exceptional Children’s program. That option would save about $150,000, according to their documentation.

So what we have is a Board of Education willing to make cuts to those who make the least in Craven County Schools. We all know janitors aren’t pulling in six-figure salaries like the superintendent nor are they at the level of the Public Information Officer, who makes around $80,000 per year, according to documentation from the district.

Consider a huge “what if” scenario: Board of Education members step up to the plate and put their money where their mouths are. Each member receives mileage and is provided a salary for their service. What if they actually become public servants and volunteer? That would free up some funds, albeit not a lot, but it might save a few dollars for teacher assistants who wonder each year if they’ll have a job.

What if the board cut back on Superintendent Lane Mills’ monthly allowance for mileage, which totals more than most people’s car payments? Mills receives $750 a month for in-county travel, according to the district.

In a recent report published by the Sun Journal, Mills’ “current pay consists of a base salary of $131,688; a local supplement of $4,135 monthly to total $49,620 annually; $750 each month for in-county travel expenses; $200 per month for personal cell phone and home internet usage; and longevity pay totaling $6,263.01,” according to Finance Officer Denise Altman.

But board members don’t want to talk about their salaries nor do they want to discuss the top-heavy administration. Some of their other options for filling the gap include reducing services in the Exceptional Children’s program, which makes complete sense since the district is in a very public fight with a special needs mom and is also in the middle of an investigation initiated by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) regarding special education services.

This brings me to another option for saving funds. What if the school district didn’t need to hire several law firms to represent itself because it did the right thing for once? According to the last audit, which has been called into question, the district overspent on legal fees by $60,000 during the past fiscal year.

In discussing the audit, I would be remiss if I did not include Chairman Carr Ipock’s assertion during the board’s last meeting that the auditor made some mistakes and no General Statutes were broken, as previously reported. So, I’m guessing the district might want to hire a more competent auditor.

Because this post is getting so long, I will end on one last note. The board hired a consulting firm to redistrict all of its schools this past year. While I don’t have the figures on the cost to the system, one of the solutions to the problem regarding the shortfall or “crisis” is to close a school. Now, why hire a firm, redistrict the entire county, then months later consider the closure of a school because you suddenly realized money’s tight?

Check back for the next article on the school district’s sudden realization they’re broke.

Contact Gisela at gisela@cctaxpayers.com. I look forward to your comments, concerns and questions.

Back to Basics Craven County already on the campaign trail

Thirty-year-old Craig Sheppard said he had a tough time keeping up with his 78-year-old partner on the campaign trail Saturday in Trent Woods.

Sheppard, who serves as a materials engineer at Marine Corps Air Station at Cherry Point, spent the day with the Back to Basics Craven County candidates speaking to voters who are ready to see Craven County Schools change direction.

Saturday’s focus was District 3 and the group lived up to its grassroots’ background by knocking on more than 200 doors to find out first-hand what voters expect from their elected officials.

The candidates of the effort to transform Craven County Schools include Eddie McKeel for District 1, Rick Hopkins in District 3, Kim Fink for District 5 and Sarah Benischek for District 7.

This group of Constitutional Conservatives want to know what changes residents want to see in the school district. They have several tenants they’ll work for such as replacing Common Core standards, limiting high stake tests, having open discussion among board members and making documents readily available to the public via the school district’s Website, such as the recently released audit of Craven County Schools which was in the news recently.

My personal preference when it comes to this group’s beliefs – besides replacing tests with actual learning and boxes with real math – is their strict insistence upon compliance of Sunshine Laws.

So, why should voters care about this group? I could list all their accomplishments. Fink has been to Raleigh so many times State Superintendent June Atkinson knows her by name. She’s no stranger to the School Board meetings either. All the candidates are well versed in policies and current education issues. But that’s not necessarily all you need to know about the candidates.

This dynamic group of four simply cares. They care about the education of children in Craven County. They have real issues with the fact that not a month has passed in the past year in which the current board hasn’t huddled in closed session – doing the public’s business without the public’s input.

Hopkins simply wants the focus to be on the teachers and students not bureaucracy. I can guarantee that if elected, he would be appalled if the board decided to spend more than $100,000 on events hosted by itself, as reported in their controversial audit.

McKeel wants to keep educators by enforcing genuine open dialogue so that teachers feel comfortable reporting on their experiences. He’s ready, willing and able to work with educators, parents and classroom assistants toward a value-added curriculum.

Benischek remains focused on the fiscal responsibility of the board. What she wants is simple – transparency. She will follow the money to make sure no area of the county is forgotten. She also recognizes the revolving door that seems to exist with educators in Craven County, which can be seen each month if you can obtain a copy of the passed personnel report. She’ll advocate for the county to be more competitive with surrounding counties when it comes to teachers and teacher assistants.

This group is asking for one thing – your vote. And not only will they work for it but they will listen to your concerns. You may not agree with all their ideas but there’s one thing most people can agree on: the current direction of the Craven County Board of Education is not headed toward success. Just pick up a copy of last week’s New Bern Sun Journal and you’ll read about a mother fighting for her child’s rights and a judge reprimanding the administration for a job they didn’t do.

Then, there’s the closed sessions and the lawsuit pending against Craven County Schools by a former student who nearly drowned on a school-sponsored field trip. Guess what voters? These attorneys – these civil claims – cost the taxpayer.

So, what’s the difference in the current board and the candidates? Openness. Fairness. Ethical standards.

Any candidate who spends their Saturday going door-to-door just to listen to others has my vote of confidence. Obviously Sheppard thought it worthy of his time to chase after a 78-year-old volunteer to campaign for this group. To me, that speaks volumes.

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Want to meet the candidates? A meet-and-greet will be held at 7 p.m. Monday at Golden Corral in New Bern or visit their Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/BackToBasicsCravenCounty or their Website at http://www.CravenB2B.com.

CCTA WATCHDOG REPORT
Craven County Board of Education
Raynor and I attended the Craven County School Board meeting on 19 November, and it was a little different from the usual ones. When the meeting first started, we couldn’t hear much of what was going on because Chairman Ipoch and Superintendent Mills were huddling over something, and since they were sitting side by side, we in the “audience” could not hear. I asked the Chairman to please use the mikes so we could hear, and he said he didn’t think they were turned on, and asked if I could hear now.  I said I could since he was now addressing us. From then, on we could hear okay.

The part we couldn’t hear was probably about the problem that a quorum was not expected to be present at the evening session. They usually take motions and act on them at the evening session, but since they did not expect a quorum then, they decided to take motions and act on them during this morning work session. School Board Member, Kim Smith, kindly explained that to us toward the end of the meeting.
The agenda clearly showed that they expected to hear from six of their eighty-four (84) administrative staff members on the subjects of child nutrition, transportation, curriculum, finance, human resources, and public relations.

Most of these reports were pretty mundane and contained things like items that need to be removed from the “child nutrition” program (by whose order was not clear) and school buses that need to be retired.

However, when it got to the discussion of approving Action Plans for School Improvement, there was much gnashing of teeth that a plan had to be prepared at all. They railed against the idea that the three schools that scored “D,” which translates to 40 to 54 numerically, should be required to have an improvement plan. The Board member that made the motion to approve the plans (which were not even discussed, nor were they available for review at the meeting), said she did so reluctantly because they had no choice but to approve the plans as they were required by “state.” Chairman Ipock said, “we have to approve the plans, but we don’t approve of the process.”
There were such comments as, “I think it’s a mistake,” and, “Proficiency and growth are confusing,” and, “Our best teachers are in tears over this,” and, “These letter grades hurt the schools.”  There were also objections to the “Testing Advisory Council” that the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) set up.

The Board seemed united in agreeing that “poverty” is the issue, not race, gender, etc.  I would like to have asked them, “If that is the case, why are so many records required to compare performance on the basis of race, gender, country of origin, etc.?”  I know that, when I was growing up, my family was still suffering from “The Great Depression,” but we darn sure went to good public schools.  I believe they were better than most of today’s public schools.  We learned patriotism, how government is supposed to work, about our founders and the settlers of America (who were treated as heroes, not racists) and, by the way, high school graduates either got a job or went on to college, mostly four year universities.

Oh yeah, the Board approved a plan to send students on an “out of Country” trip to Italy in June of 2017.  It was unclear as to what extent taxpayer money is underwriting the trip.  My senior class did not get a class trip, and Raynor’s got to go on a wonderful trip to Philadelphia.  (She paid her own way.)  My how things have changed.

Lastly, there was some discussion of $200,000 the Board of Commissioners gave the school system for computers. There was a question about what happened to the old ones, but the Board seemed to take this for a joke.  They also discussed a couple of other financial matters that they referred to as “Strategic Direction Alignment: Efficient and Effective Operations.”  Don’t they enjoy using fancy phrases?  One might almost call it “puffery.”
Respectfully submitted,
 
Hal James
CCTA Watchdog Committee Chairman

Poverty isn’t the only problem with public education

If you’ve followed local and state news lately, you undoubtedly have read about low performing schools in Craven County and throughout the state.

The N.C. General Assembly recently changed what it means to be a low performing school and while Craven County had three, there were 578 additional ones throughout the state.

The State Board of Education defines low-performing schools as those that receive a grade of D or F and as a school that either meets expected growth or not.

To break down the grading system – which in itself is flawed – a D equals any number grade from a 40 to a 54. To put it bluntly – that number grade would be a big fat F for a student.

But I digress.

Across the state, Board of Education members fought back. Wake County’s board, which had at least 20 schools that didn’t make the grade, decided to show their disapproval of the ranking by abstaining from voting on plans to improve the schools. Of course, their votes counted as affirmative ones, so it really was just a statement and nothing more. It kind of makes you wonder whether they even read the plans to approve the schools in the first place to be honest.

A few days after Wake’s lack of a vote, Craven County Board of Education members enter the fray. But they couldn’t all be available to vote on the plans. Three members were absent during their work session and another member had a family emergency. So, instead of voting on the plans during their regularly scheduled board session at night (when the public can attend), the few members bitterly voted on the plans, all the while blaming poverty.

Across the state, nearly every media outlet blames poverty solely. Even Chairman Carr Ipock spent time during the work session to whine about schools not having enough resources, children coming to school unprepared, etc.

No one can dispute poverty plays a role in education. Study after study says this is true.

However, at no point should our elected officials, educational leaders or teachers use this as a blanket excuse for mediocre performance.

School districts across the state were very quick to boast a trend in the number of students graduating. So, if we are to assume graduation rates are increasing is poverty then not a problem? Or are we graduating sub-par students as well?

According to an article by Dr. Christopher Boerl entitled, “Poverty Need Not Be A Reason Why American Schools Fail,” written two years ago, he gives examples of many schools who have succeeded in spite of funding.

Amanda Ripley, author of “The Smartest Kids in the World,” devoted her profession to identify why schools are failing and what can be done about it.

As she states, “Compared with their counterparts abroad, too many American educators rely on poverty as an excuse for poor student achievement. Indeed, a large body of research shows that teachers who hold high expectations for all children, regardless of their socioeconomic background, get better results.”

And Ripley’s research tears apart what many of us who are parents already know is failing: Common Core.

“Academically, American schools are too easy, with surveys of students showing pervasive boredom and low expectations,” she writes. “Our curriculum needs a booster shot, and not just in reading and math, the two subjects covered by the new Common Core national standards, but in every area, including technical and career education.”

As a parent of a child who is not living in poverty, but certainly not living in lush circumstances, I can vouch for Ripley’s assessment.

My child is hindered by Common Core math. He’s performing at three grade levels above his current grade level in math and is stuck drawing boxes.

He is drawing boxes to add. And it’s insulting, not to mention a time waster, which he already understands.

Does no one see a problem in that? He looks at me as we do his homework and rolls his eyes because he doesn’t see the value in the education he’s being offered. If he in his first few years of school doesn’t see the value in the educational process afforded to him through the public school system now, why should he ever?

So, no Chairman Ipock, members of the Craven County Board of Education and the Wake County Board of Education, it’s not just about poverty.

Children need to feel valued. They need to be challenged. And they need more than sub-par performance and whining about funds if we want to fix our public education system.

Lyndon B. Johnson once said, “Education is not a problem. Education is a solution.”

So, let’s start coming up with some real solutions. Otherwise, my child and many others will look back on their school days as Mark Twain did and repeat his famous words: “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”

Meeting with Craven County Schools Finance Officer – 10/16/2015

Meeting with Craven County Schools Finance Officer – 10/16/2015

In attendance: Denise Altman – Finance Officer

Sandy Carlaccini – Director of Federal Programs

Dr. AnnetteBrown – Assistant Superintendent For Instruction

Hal James – CCTA

Brad Cummings – CCTA

Craven County schools receive 2-year, federal grants for each of their English as a Second Language (ESL) students based on the previous year’s head count.   For fiscal years (October) 2012-13 it was $131,000, for 2014-15 it was $152,000. Next year will be smaller, because it is based on current enrollment, which has gone down. About one third of the refugees they currently instruct were born here. They deal with about 30 different languages

All instruction is done in English and they do not provide translators. In some cases they pull students out of their regular classes for additional tutoring, but that is done in English as well, using specially trained teachers. These special ESL teachers also instruct their regular teachers in the best ways to instruct non-English speakers. At present they have 6 part-time tutors who work 19-1/2 hours or less per week at a rate of $10 to $23 per hour (depending on their qualifications) – certified teachers get the $23 and less trained teachers receive less. They also have some 2-day-per-week tutors who usually make $10 per hour. All of the teachers and tutors are paid by the Craven County School System (from the grant money) and nothing is paid directly or indirectly to Interfaith Refugee Ministry (IFR), though IFR may recommend someone they know who has the particular language skills needed.

The October 2014 “head count” of ESL students was 551 but this year’s will be around 478. Recently, they have seen a sharp drop in enrollment. It used to be in the 700’s. Most of the current ESL students are Spanish speakers, who are primarily the children of seasonal agricultural workers. Roughly 200 of their ESL students are refugees.

Last year, they received $354, 241 of Title 3 (federal) money, which can be used to hire teachers, and another (state) allotment of $72,988 which cannot be used for teaching positions. The refugee grant is in addition to this, and they say it is a godsend, because it allows more individual attention, including some summer teaching, which would not otherwise be possible. They estimate the average cost per year per ESL student to be around $7,800. The refugees attend a total of 9 local schools.

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I’m calling bull on the public school systems

Forgive the vernacular.

I’m sure there’s a way I could write this more eloquently but sometimes words just escape you, especially when you’re dealing with failing public school systems.

Did you by any chance hear about Craven County Schools’ last-minute meeting this week in order for the board to huddle with attorneys for the 13th time and probably 30th hour this year?

No, you probably did not.

But I bet through Craven County Schools’ Facebook page, you found out who was named the Principal of the Year, you probably even know who won Friday’s football game – all through social media.

Social media, such as Facebook, which Craven County Schools loves to turn to for the important things, i.e. what officials want the public to know, can be a great tool to educate the public.

But, again, did you hear about that special called board meeting through social media or even the School Board’s own website? No.

You can imagine why those items were never publicly posted. Special meetings are called for few purposes, none of which include public input.

However, if you check out Craven County Schools’ Facebook page, you’ll see a call to citizens to raise up arms against HB 539. You know the bill – the one that actually treats public charter schools like they are you know, public.

In fact, the school system rallied its followers with the following cry for help: “Help keep local funding intended for public schools in public schools.”

So, is this what our public officials should be doing during work hours? Fighting for a political cause and then encouraging citizens to fight for that cause as well?

This is nothing new. I’ll never forget a call going out by Pamlico County Schools on its AwareNow alert system alarming parents that Arapahoe Charter School would soon be taking funding away from the public school by petitioning the N.C. Department of Public Instruction for the chance to educate high school students.

It’s a never-ending cycle. Public schools across the state, not just in the eastern part, complain.

Attend just one of their meetings and you’ll hear at least one board member whine about funding.

But if you do a little research by reading the full board meeting’s agenda, all the financial information the district wants you to remain ignorant about suddenly appears.

You’ll learn of carry-overs in funding from previous years. Yes, the districts receive money for at-risk children and those with special needs. But guess what? If it’s not used, it either goes back to the funding source or it carries over to the next year.

I will let you take all that in. I know it is breaking news that a public school district could be hiding public information.

It shocks me. Every. Single. Day.

Because that’s how entangled my interactions are with local school districts.

Remember when the Craven County Board of Education begged the Board of Commissioners for funding at the absolute last-minute for this fiscal year, and commissioners relented and gave additional money to the district?

Well, guess what? Somehow, the school district miraculously ended the year by spending less in capital funds than requested and given by commissioners. One would think that money would go back to the Board of Commissioners, thereby, going back to taxpayers.

But again, one would have to believe the school system operated on ethical principles. Someone should hold the School Board accountable.

So, I’m tossing the ball to the citizens who care and to the commissioners elected to represent the citizens.

Someone has to hold local school districts accountable. It clearly isn’t being done by the state.

So, to the Board of Education and Craven County Board of Commissioners, what’s your next move?

I’ll be watching.

CCTA WATCHDOG REPORT- Craven County Board of Commissioners

CCTA WATCHDOG REPORT- Craven County Board of Commissioners
Hang on to your pocketbooks. It’s budget time, and the Craven County Schools’ budget request will be presented at the regular evening meeting on Monday, May 4, 2015. It is anticipated that they will ask for several million dollars more in funding from the County this year. At a time when the Commissioners are trying hard to sell a “revenue neutral” budget in the face of the fact that property values are expected to assess much lower and therefore, to have the same property tax revenue, the rate must go up which will be hard for taxpayers to swallow. Obviously, when land and property values go down, it is likely that the citizens’ asset value and borrowing power is reduced. In a nut shell, it is hard times and the Commissioners want to keep the tax revenue the same. The socialists among us have increased public reliance on government assistance to the point that many people simply demand it! If welfare is cut, it could lessen the Commissioners’ chances of re-election! Wow! They are between a rock and a hard place!
There will also be a request for a resolution approving an Eastern Carolina Workforce Development Area Consortium Agreement. Boy, that’s a mouth full. WHY DO WE NEED THAT??? Oh! I see. It’s in one of the attachments. It’s in order to get federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity (WIOA) funds. Come to the meeting and hear all about how Uncle Sam has so much money to send down to Craven County to create another level of bureaucracy complete with a board of directors, staff, and the whole bit at taxpayer expense.

 

Oh, you will be interested in the noise ordinance being considered. Especially if you have to work at night unloading produce, construction materials, equipment, or products that are often delivered at night. Or if you like to make a little noise on a motorcycle. The ordinance does try to address the citizens from Havelock’s complaint about loud music from a bar or club or something that plays music really loud late at night according to some residents.  The Commissioners did not dare to try to silence the dogs or the baying donkey over in Evans Mill (they get an exception). Like the government always does, this ordinance is over kill. If you’re going to have a noise ordinance, you have to include a lots of ways of making noise, right? Government sure likes to control.

 

There is also a public hearing on the Pamlico Sound Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan. Why do we need that? Same reason as the Workforce Development Consortium; to get federal money, this time for disaster assistance.

 

There was a ray of hope at the last Commissioners’ meeting when Commissioner Jones asked why the Carolina East Hospital can’t help the county with it’s healthcare problems with jail inmates. After all, the hospital sits on county owned land for which they pay $1 per year. At the last meeting, the board approved another $300,000 dollars to pay for an inmate’s hospital bills this fiscal year! He has already cost the taxpayers $120,000. This guy is a sex offender.

 

Please plan to come to the Board of Commissioners meeting at 7:00 PM. May 4, 2015 in the County Administration Building at the corner of Craven and Broad streets if you can make it. We need to let them know we care, and we are watching!

 

Respectfully submitted,

Hal James

CCTA Watchdog Committee Chairman

CCTA Vice Chair, Glenn Fink, on Public Education in NC and Craven County

Glenn Fink went into the LION’s DEN and made this talk to the Craven County Board of Education a few days ago…

I am Glenn Fink, an active member of the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association, or CCTA.  CCTA recently established a formal Legislative Action Committee on which my wife, Kim, and I both serve.  Our Legislative Action Committee has identified priority items to work on, and several relate to public education.  They are as follows:

(1) Get rid of Common Core,

(2) Have HB588, the Founding Principals Act, enforced,

(3)Have Advanced Placement U.S. History taught to reflect the truth, not full of anti-American bias, and

(4) Have local Board of Education members elected by the districts they serve, not county wide.

In the last few weeks, we have met with all the General Assembly members that represent Craven County, and shared all of our priorities. Somehow, the item about how our Board of Education is elected made front page news on Wednesday.  I attended all the meetings with our local legislators including the one with the representative mentioned in the article, but my wife, also referenced in the article, was not even in attendance at this last meeting. The whole objective of this item is to help ensure the voice and will of the people is heard in the most direct and efficient manner.

The Board of Education members are elected, and by the very nature of that process, serve at the will of the people they represent, their constituents. The more the elected leadership process is moved away from “local” representation (being their district) to a larger constituent group (being the county), the less the voice of the people is heard.

This is the case with our current method. Based on my experience, the Board members seem to report to, and act accountable to, the Board Chairman. This seems reinforced by comments in the article by the Chairman that school board members plan to push back and possibly with a resolution at the Board’s meeting today. I have to question whether the members’ perspectives were even known when that statement was made.  In addition, there is the apparent official position of limiting an individual board member’s access to groups who have concerns.

The lowered voice of the people seems to be reinforced by comments in the article such as, “It has served us well,” and “We are very much in favor of how our elections are established.”  This sounds like it’s all about meeting the Board’s needs versus the needs of the citizens and their children. This concern is further reinforced by the Elections Director’s stating in the article that she doesn’t think all Craven County voters are aware of how the current election method works. Her review of the election data shows that there is only a small vote countywide in those areas.

There is something refreshing from this series of events. We got a timely direct response to our concern by the Chairman who appeared to be speaking for the whole Board. The concerning part is the topic that got an immediate response was not related to questions we’ve raised about the quality of the education process for the students of our county, but rather about a procedure that may impact Board members personally, but cloaked under the guise of, “It won’t be as good for the county.”

On a totally unrelated topic, the recent state wide school grading results are amazing.  You just cannot make this stuff up!  Only in the public school system is there a grading scale where you must be below 40% to receive a failing grade.  I know this is not a Craven County deal.  It is statewide, but it reinforces the mentality of NC Department of Public Instruction (DPI) leadership, and the need for Local Education Agencies (LEA)’s to stand up for what they believe is right.

Petition Craven County Board of Commissioners

Petition: Craven County Board of Education – 20 November 2014

 Hal James, Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association

 Kim Fink, Glenn Fink, and I have petitioned the Craven County Board of Education on a number of occasions on Common Core Standards and the Advance Placement United States History Curriculum (APUSH). I petitioned this board on 21 August, 2014 and received a reply signed by Mr. Ipock dated 22 October 2014. I want to read the last paragraph:  “While we respect your opinion, at this time the Board of Education does not see a need to push back on the new NP History Curriculum.”

I had referred you to APUSH Key Concept 7.3:  Which reads, “Global conflicts over resources, territories, and ideologies renewed debates over the nation’s values and its role in the world while simultaneously propelling the United States into a dominant international military, political, cultural, and economic position.”

Under this key concept is a brief description of the involvement of the United States in World War II, which states, in part, that wartime experiences, such as internment of “Japanese Americans” (not exactly a shining moment in US history) and the decision to drop the atomic bomb raised questions about America values.

I would like to ask, “Raised questions among whom?” I FOUND THIS VERY OFFENSIVE!   I remember the last days of World War II well. My uncles had just helped vanquished Hitler in Germany and now expected to have to invade Japan. I was old enough to understand the worry my family was feeling.

THEN CAME WORD OF THE ATOMIC BOMBS FALLING IN JAPAN! What a relief! Hundreds of thousand of American lives had been saved!

I can’t for the life of me, understand how fighting Hitler’s Nazi Storm Troopers and liberating Europe can be likened to “Global conflict over resources, territories, and ideologies.”

I would appreciate a more comprehensive reply to my petition.

Thank you.

Hal Signiture3

Hal James

Chairman
CCTA Watchdog Committee
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