Faced with a funding debate, the county commissioners and the school board need to find consensus, according to Guy McCook, chairman of the Scotland County Board of Commissioners.
“It’s time for (the county and the school system) to stop throwing rocks at one another and work together,” McCook said on Thursday.
Speaking in the wake of a Tuesday commissioners’ meeting which saw several members of the board question capital expenditures proposed by the school system, McCook said that it is important for both entities to realize they are working toward a common goal.
“We all live in the same county. And our goal should be to get the (young people) here the best education that we can afford.”
Affordability has been a concern for the commissioners, who targeted a school system project to build barriers called “perimeter connectors” around local schools as extravagant.
The school system has proposed using extra capital funds leftover from a project that came in under budget – totaling about $109,036 – to pay for the project at several Scotland County schools. According to school system officials, enclosing local campuses is a security priority considering recent school shootings.
McCook said that he was looking forward to gathering with leadership from the school system at a meeting later this month to discuss a number of issues.
“The idea is to open the lines of communication,” said McCook, adding that he wants to cultivate a positive dialogue between the two boards.
Joined by County Manager Kevin Patterson and Finance Officer Charles Nichols, McCook participated in a similar meeting with school system leadership earlier this year.
The full school board is expected to sit down with the commissioners at a more formal budget meeting sometime in early June, although a date has not yet been confirmed according to County Clerk Ann Kurtzman.
Commissioners John Cooley and Bob Davis were especially critical of the perimeter connectors project at this week’s meeting, highlighting how close the schools’ spare capital funds total is to the total raised by the county to fund an emergency repair project at Pate Stadium ahead of last year’s football season. That project cost the county $129,000.
“In our last budget we had to add a penny to make repairs to the stadium … (so) I see nothing wrong with leaving it where it is and just returning it back to the county,” Cooley said on Tuesday.