The Sampson County Board of Education made a decision to contribute funds toward lobbying efforts, but some members believe it’s not the right thing to do.
Sampson County Schools will pay $4,000 to the North Carolina School Boards Center (NCSBAC) to support several efforts, which includes a lobbyist to advocate for education. During a Tuesday meeting, the board approved that recommendation by a 4-3 vote. Chairman Telfair Simpson, and members Dewain Sinclair and Glenn Tart voted against it for various reasons.
Simpson was torn on the decision and turned it down because of the number of participants. There’s more than 100 districts in the state, but only 54 are paying NCSBAC.
“There’s more than half who are not participating,” Simpson stressed “Most of them seem to be small school systems like us.”
But he hopes the lobbyist will help public schools, he said.
“But there’s not a lot of school systems participating,” Simpson said. “We’ll see how it goes this year and if they’re a benefit to us, I’ll probably vote next year to approve it.”
Board member G.H. Wilson expressed his approval during the meeting. He believes it may be worth the cost since legislators have their hands full dealing with bills and committees.
“I think it’s something to try,” Wilson said, mentioning a couple of counties which brought litigation against the state for teacher tenure.
“We didn’t participate in that,” Wilson said. “We benefited on that and we benefit from helping each other. There’s good bills that you need to support and there’s bad bills that you need to try to defeat.”
The amount for each participating district is based on enrollment. According to a memorandum from NCSBAC President Tim Morgan, 91 percent will be used for a full-time lobbyist, the ongoing development of the website and reserve funds to cover media buys and expenses for grass root campaigns. The remaining 9 percent is for administrative expenses.
Tart said he was simply against using taxpayers’ money to fund a lobbyist.
“I don’t think it’s feasible for us to be spending taxpayers’ money on lobbyists,” he admonished, saying local people should be lobbying legislators.
“I think it’s money thrown away,” Tart added.
NCSBAC was established last year to advocate for education in the North Carolina General Assembly.
“With the dramatic transformation in how public education and those who are elected to govern local school systems are perceived, the broad philosophical assumptions around which we have fashioned our actions and advocacy efforts over the 75 year history of NCSBA (North Carolina School Boards Association) can no longer be relied upon,” Morgan previously stated in a memo. “What we face today is a battle for survival, both of public education as we know it and the model of locally elected board governance of public school system operations.”
In the same memo, Morgan also said public education and school boards are operating in an unfamiliar climate.
“Local school board authority is coming under attack by a growing chorus of political and and business leaders who believe that school boards are not doing what is needed to effectively educate our children and that school boards are one of the biggest impediments to educational progress and reform,” Morgan stated.