Commissioners deny school district’s funding request

By Erin Smith -

ELIZABETHTOWN — The Bladen County Board of Commissioners voted 6-3 to deny a request from officials with Bladen County Schools for additional funding.

The initial request submitted by Bladen County Schools Superintendent Robert Taylor in August was seeking an additional $200,000. The additional money requested included $80,000 for drivers education, $40,000 for teacher supplies and materials, and $80,000 for teacher supplements.

On Tuesday, Bladen County Manager Greg Martin said there was some discussion about what the General Assembly plans to fund in the area of education.

According to the North Carolina Association of School Administrators website Legislative Link, the N.C. Senate has offered to add funding to the proposed budget for drivers education courses and teacher assistants with the caveat of reducing the amount of flexibility that school systems currently have with how teacher assistant funding is spent.

Martin said a motion was made to grant an additional $120,000 in light of the current budget negotiations in the General Assembly. The motion failed 6-3. The three voting in favor of the funding measure were Commissioners Russell Priest, Wayne Edge and Jimmie Smith.

Bladen County Schools Public Relations Director Valerie Newton said, when asked what happens now, that she will have to speak with Taylor.

The Board of Education suffered a budget shortfall at the end of fiscal year 2014-15 which the commissioners were asked to fund from the county’s general fund.

In other business:

— The board approved a request for job/position reclassification for the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office. The vote was 8-1 in favor of the request with Commissioner Arthur Bullock casting the lone no vote.

“The sheriff is trying to improve the competitiveness with salaries,” said Martin. He added the reclassification will only impact 12 positions and no additional funding will be needed. Martin said Sheriff Jim McVicker will be using funds that are already appropriated.

— The board approved taking part in an application process to participate in the North Carolina Transportation Notification System.

“All of our drivers are checked for violations throughout the year,” said Martin.

He said that county policy states if a driver for the county receives a violation, they are supposed to notify their supervisor immediately. Martin said this system is just a method to ensure that the county is notified if a county employee has a traffic offense.

Martin said the board also amended the county personnel policy to make it explicit that GPS technology is being used on county vehicles. He added the GPS technology provides good diagnostics to the county about such things as idle times, running times, routes and the time it takes to complete a particular route.

The board also approved a text amendment that provides that certain county employees are now required to be fingerprinted.

“We already do background checks,” said Martin.

He added this is a new requirement from the federal government. It will mainly affect those employees working in the Powell-Melvin Agricultural Building who “work on the federal side,” said Martin.

— The rescheduled the Monday, Oct. 5, meeting to Tuesday, Oct. 6.

— The board also scheduled a special meeting regarding the roles and responsibilities of Board of Commissioners and staff for Monday, Sept. 28, at 4:30 p.m.

Erin Smith can be reached at 910-862-4163.

By Erin Smith

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