The Sampson County Board of Education is still undecided on trying to join a lobbying group.
During a Tuesday morning work session, Superintendent Dr. Eric Bracy once again asked the board if they would be interested in joining the North Carolina Schools Board Action Center (NCSBAC). Some thought it would be a good idea, while others had doubts. If the county school system was to join NCSBAC, they would have to cough up $4,000, which lobbies for education.
For the last school year, several board members voted against sending money to the organization, but enough board members were in favor of joining NCSBAC.
Each request is based on the size of a school district. School systems 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 the board decided to join NCSBAC.
“For a district of our size it doesn’t seem like a lot of money, but things are tight,” said Board Chairman Dewain Sinclair. “I think that $4,000 can be used in better ways.”
Funds will be used to hire a lobbyist to interact with state lawmakers on behalf of board members. Bracy said the group also advocates for education through several media platforms. It’s something Board member Kim Schmidlin is in favor of when it comes to supporting an agenda for schools.
“It sounds like this is what this group does,” Schmidlin said. “So I believe it’s a good use of our funds.”
Board member Telfair Simpson agreed with Schmidlin when it comes to lobbying efforts, but also mentioned how half of the districts are not participating.
“It gives a little heartburn that half of the school systems don’t want to participate in it,” Simpson said. “You can look at it two ways, you don’t cut off your nose to spite your face …”
He suggested that Sampson County wait awhile before making a decision. When the board previously discussed the group, close to 30 districts were in favor of joining. On Tuesday, that number jumped to 46. Bracy said more than 50 districts joined the organization last year.
After reviewing a list of participating school districts, Vice Chairwoman Sonya Powell said it was interesting that nearby school systems have already paid money to the group. Some of the ones she mentioned included Clinton City Schools, Cumberland County and Duplin County.
“It kind of seems that people in our area see it as necessary,” Powell said.
Like Simpson, Board member Glenn Tart questioned why only half of the districts were participating.
“If it was such as good deal, it seems to me that all of the school systems would be participating in it,” Tart said.
He also indicated how the state’s school board association is not talking a lot about it or “patting themselves on the back.”
“I haven’t seen them publish anything where this has actually done anything,” Tart said.
Tart questioned if the membership dues could be cut by 5 percent.
“We’re having to cut, cut, cut,” Tart said. “I think we need look at what we pay them and if they can cut it by 5 percent.”
The decision was tabled for a future date to examine where the district stands with the state’s budget.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.