Trust is an element that school system Superintendent Rick Stout believes has been lacking between the Scotland County Board of Education and the Board of Commissioners.
Stout warned that “unless we start trusting each other” it will be difficult to “move forward as a county.”
“I always think there is progress when you have two parties talking to each other,” said Stout.
Voicing his agreement, commissioners Chairman Bob Davis underlined the importance of unity.
“It’s not the school board versus us — we are all in this together,” said Davis.
The boards met on Thursday to discuss funding of the school system’s capital outlay request as well as improving the relationship between the two boards. Officials say they plan to continue the joint sessions.
While a date has not yet been set, the boards also agreed to reconvene in July.
“(Bob Davis) and I have talked about maybe meeting quarterly,” said Stout.
Stout said that the two boards may look to form a joint committee that will meet four times per year, with the full-board meetings occurring twice a year.
“A lot of things can be resolved when you meet as a party, and this represents an excellent opportunity for us to meet going forward” said Stout.
The joint meeting tentatively scheduled for July will focus on the development of future funding sources for the school system’s capital outlay budget.
“We need to look at revenue streams to fund the school system,” said school board member Terence Williams. “Unless we do, we are going to be in this same position next year.”
Another issue that will be dealt with at future joint meetings, if Commissioner John Alford has his way, will be the adjustment of the current school system funding formula (“the school floor”). Alford hopes that a permanent agreement can be reached between the two boards that would see the school system funding formula permanently reduced.
“(The)$10 million going to the school system out of our $35-million budget is more than the county can afford without raising taxes,” said Alford.
During the meeting Alford told the school board that he has “no interest in telling the school system how to run its business.”
“I just want for you all to face up to the current situation, as they did in 1963 when the school floor was created … and adjust the school floor,” said Alford.
“We have lost 20-plus industries and 5,000 jobs, and we need to change the school floor,” Alford added.
While his request to consider the school floor was not discussed during the recent meeting, Alford said that he plans to continue to pursue the floor change at July’s joint meeting.