Board discusses lobby group

The Sampson County Board of Education is looking into whether or not they should make contributions towards lobbying efforts.

During a recent work session, Superintendent Dr. Eric Bracy presented a request from the North Carolina Schools Boards Action Center (NCSBAC), which supports several efforts including lobbying for education. The organization is currently seeking a $4,000 contribution from the county district.

Each request is based on the size of each school system. Districts with less than 5,000 students contribute $2,000 while those with 50,000 or more will be asked to contribute $10,000. Falling between the 8,000 and 9,999 range, Sampson County’s contribution will be the same as last year, if approved by the board.

With the funds, the NCSBAC uses the funds to hire lobbyist to interact with lawmakers in the North Carolina General Assembly on behalf of education and school boards.

Of the more than 100 school systems, a little more than half participated with the organization. The amount participating this year is unknown. Board member Dewain Sinclair mentioned the work of the NCSBAC, but questioned if it was worth it.

“Without extra lobbyist, would some of these things been achieved? Who knows?,” Sinclair asked.

Last year, several board members voted against sending money to the organization, but enough board members were in favor of doing so.

Board member Kim Schmidlin questioned how boards are updated about their lobbying efforts. Bracy said the organization updates school officials and have a Twitter Page. Sonya Powell, vice chairperson, said a representative from the action center usually updates board members throughout North Carolina during events.

“It still remains to be seen what’s been accomplished,” board member Telfair Simpson said during the meeting before making a request to see how many districts are joining.

Since 2013, NCSBAC President Tim Morgan stated that their efforts have paid off because the organization now has a full-time professional lobbyist, which brings the total number to three.

The request was scheduled to be placed on the agenda for the June 30 meeting, but it was tabled for a July meeting.